Academic journal article Modern Journal of Language Teaching Methods

Compromise Establishment between Developmental and Logical Paradigms in Child Language Acquisition

Academic journal article Modern Journal of Language Teaching Methods

Compromise Establishment between Developmental and Logical Paradigms in Child Language Acquisition

Article excerpt


Study of language acquisition, especially first language acquisition, is regarded as one of the most fundamental issues which is identified nowadays by definite and occasionally incompatible approaches. It has thus aroused a heated debate among many scholars, and in this respect, many theories have been proposed to date. Lust (2006) has embarked on two approaches relevant to the study of first language acquisition. On the one hand, developmental approach studies language acquisition with regard to the fact that language is practically acquired over time. On the other hand, logical approach studies language acquisition formally, usually regardless of experiential examinations of child language. Piaget's developmental theory proposes that cognitive development requires a continuous restructuring of mind progression due to physical growth and social experience. On the basis of his paradigm children establish a perception with regard to whatever surrounds them, afterwards they come upon inconsistencies between what they have previously experienced and what they detect in the world around them. Chomsky's logical paradigm, however, emphasizes the fact that children are biologically endowed with capability for language acquisition. His theory is completely based upon the rationalist philosophy of Descartes, stressing the innateness of Language Faculty, yet merging the function of restrained input in language development (Lust, 2006).

The aforementioned approaches to first language acquisition; that is, developmental and logical proposed by Piaget (1983) and Chomsky (1980) respectively, are going to be introduced and described in this study. The present paper also attempts to investigate whether the two approaches can be merged in order to come to a solution to this seemingly complex matter concerning first language acquisition.

Piaget's Theory

What a learner acquires is not taken into consideration in Piaget' paradigm, rather how it is learned seems to be of paramount importance. Piaget's theory was found out to differ from others in several other ways:

- It is concerned with children, rather than all learners.

-It emphasizes on development, rather than learning, so it does not address learning of information or specific behaviors.

-It contains separate stages of development rather than a gradual increase in number and complexity of behaviors, concepts, ideas, etc.

There are three basic components to Piaget's cognitive theory:

1. Schemas (Building blocks of knowledge).

2. Adaptation processes that enable the transition from one stage to another (equilibrium, assimilation and accommodation, Williams and Burden 2000, p.22).

3. Stages of development:



-concrete operational,

-formal operational (Piaget 1972, 1955; Piaget and Inhelder, 1969)

The goal of Piaget's theory is to explain the mechanisms and processes by which the infant, and then the child, develops into an individual who can reason and think using hypotheses. To Piaget, because of biological maturation and environmental experience, a progressive reorganization of mental processes leads to cognitive development. Children construct an understanding of the world around them, then experience differences between what they already know and what they discover in their environment. Williams and Burden (2000) believe that Piaget's theory is 'action-based' because it is about the process of learning rather than what is learned.

Chomsky's Theory

Nativism revolves around the idea that the child is biologically endowed with innate capacity to acquire a language. This approach relied entirely on the rationalist philosophy stressed by Descartes. "Rationalist" acknowledges the innateness of a powerful Language Faculty (Chomsky 1986, 1999, 2000) in the human species but integrating the role of constrained experience in the "growth of language" in order to explain language development. …

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