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Theories of Language Acquisition

Write an essay on Language Acquisition.

Language acquisition is a process through which human beings learn or acquire the capability to understand and distinguish a language and the reproduction of the same to communicate with others. A theorist has provided with ample of theories that are have adopted different approaches to same phenomena (Benson 2013).

There are different definitions and theories regarding language acquisition and learning yet is no definite definition that suggests the accurate way of language acquisition. On general terms, it is agreed by the theorists that the process is vastly complicated and intricate that involves cognizance. The comprehension of the knowledge of the process of the cognizance is limited and indefinite. Many theories propagate different approaches of the process (Corno and Anderman 2015).

Many theorists propagate the theory of imitation. According to this theory, humans acquire language through imitating the actions of other humans. Thorndike developed his law of effect after he experimented with cats and their cognizance was tested through the experiments. The experiment also was linked to his another theory of connectionism. According to his theory, the mental cognizance or connection of the cats became stronger after every time they made their effort to come off the of the maze box. On the contrary to this theory, there are phenomena when children acquire wrong grammar or pronunciation of words which they have not learned from their parents (Benson and Voller 2014).

Another approach towards language acquisition is emergentism that states that the faculties that guide language are not exactly associated with language. Chomsky believed in the cognitive theory that state that the language acquisition or learning is a part of the human function. The cognitive module is difficult to prove or disapprove thus it has created a huge controversy in the field of psychology and science. According to the theory, there are definite sections of the mind that process the thoughts. These sections are independent and separate parts of the mind that are active or can be utilized for specific reasons at the particular time (Rumbaugh 2014).

According to Piaget, the human mind is highly dependent on the way particular information is perceived by the human sense. Piaget’s cognitive theory of language acquisition propagated that the learning is dependent on adaptation that can be achieved through accommodation and assimilation. Assimilation is the process through which human mind perceives information and comprehends the meaning out of it. The information is altered by the mind if the information received does not fit the mind. The process includes modification of information if it does not fit the human mind. The criticisms that revolved around this theory by Piaget claimed that he did not take into consideration the cultural determinants that are instrumental in the comprehension of the different connotation of the language (Rost and Candlin 2014).

Imitation Theory

Empiricism is another approach towards the learning acquisition that states that learning achievable by sensory input. This theory contradicts the key points that were propagated the cognitive module by Chomsky. According to the Empiricism theory, the main emphasis of learning is on the evidence from the experiments and not the theories or intuition as a state by Chomsky. The theory states that everything has its foundation in physical anatomy of the human body, and thus the mind is an invention of the brain. Radical empiricism was the term used by William James to describe a significant part of his theory. According to his theory learning was not dependent on senses or any unknown sources. Criticisms related to the theory stated mind is a complex system that has untapped resources and negatives the claim of the theory that mind is a structured just like any organ in the human anatomy. He made no comparison between the function that distinguishes eyes from heart (Bishop and Leonard 2014).

All these theories are encountered many criticisms, and new theories found their inception through the negation of the previous theory. The theories fail to explain the phenomena that are instrument in triggering the process of the learning a language. The theory that states that the learning process is achieved through imitation; fails to explain how and why the child pick up bad or wrong words or mispronounce the words that their parents did not teach. The theory that states that the learning depends on emergentism does not include the external factors like cultural determinants that influence the process of learning. The others who believe empiricism encompasses a large periphery and is all inclusive fails to identify that brain is a very complex and sensitive part in comparison to other parts of the body.

Depression is a mood disorder, and many criteria have to be met by the sufferer.   The major symptoms include the continuous phase of low mood and sadness, change in appetite and weight, morbid thinking and suicidal thoughts, insomnia or oversleeping, fatigue and lack of concentration and a feeling of hopelessness. The severity of these symptoms varies from person to person. The causes of depression have vast definitions. However, three theories of depression would be covered in this essay (Gilbert 2014).

The studies conducted on the cognitive-behavioral model for depression by Seligman focuses on reinforcement as the definition of depression. According to the theory, depression can be a part of classical conditioning. Seligman experimented on a dog who has to endure shocks in a cage and who gave up try to escape the situation after a time frame. After this experiment, Seligman came to the conclusion that the phenomena due to which people become depressed and stop trying to look at the positive side of life is the classical conditioning of the people that no matter how they exert effort they won’t succeed or achieve happiness (Lin, Dean and Ensel 2013). His “Learned Helplessness” theory explains that a person tends to become depressed when he learns that all his attempts to escape his traumatic situation are going to be vain. This is probably going to make the sufferer passive and helpless even when an escape is possible.

Emergentism Theory

The experiment that he conducted on dogs made him come to an observation, that humans, similar to the dog, give up trying to make the environment around them a better one. This is because they start believing that no matter how hard they try, they are never coming out of the state of depression and that all their attempts are going to be futile. When Seligman was conducting the experiment on dogs, he was not sure enough whether this had anything to do with humans (Braet et al. 2015). However, after conducting further studies, researchers  that the way people see the negative events in their life have an influence whether they feel helpless about it or not. Scholars further explain Seligman’s “Learned Helplessness” by putting forward the concept of attribution linked to “Learned Helplessness”.

An Attribution is a factor, which makes a person blame for the consequence of a predicament. These attributes stem from three different dimensions. They are stability, locus and specific or global. Locus is when the stimulant is the person himself, which is internal. External factors are linked with some different aspect of the situation. Stability is when the cause is either permanent and stable or temporary and temporary (Seligman et al. 2014). Global attribution is attached to the belief that the reasons resulting in the consequence are many situations and not just any one of them.  

According to the cognitive theory of depression formulated by Beck, depression results from maladaptive or defective cognitive processes. He suggests that the physical and emotional symptoms are a result of the patterns of thinking in a depressed person. Beck opines that depressed people think unrealistic negative things about them and their future. He is of the belief that the personal life of depressed people is heavily influenced by a set of assumptions that constitute their cognitions (Braet et al. 2015). Examples of these assumptions include, “I must be respected by people in my life or my life has no meaning.”  “Why is the world always have to be unjust and unfair to me.” Beck’s cognitive theory of depression also explains how depressed people always tend to negatively interpret things around them. They indulge in thinking selectively, cutting out all the happiness from their life and concentrating only on the negativity. They also judge things only based on success and failure.

To conclude, it can be said that there are many causes of depression and no on cause works as the major determinant in causing the state of depression. The cognitive behavioral and behavioral theories are applicable in comprehension of the state of depression. Both the theories are applicable in the real life and support as the case study for the people who are suffering from depression. However, both the theories have their limitation to the extent of their understanding of the causes of depression. Both the theories focus on the genetic causes and the biological determinants rather and fail to address the external factors that have equal impact on depression. Subsequently depression is no less complex disorder than other disorders and no one simple explanation is established.  

References

Benson, P. and Voller, P., 2014. Autonomy and independence in language learning. Routledge.

Benson, P., 2013. Teaching and researching: Autonomy in language learning. Routledge.

Bishop, D.V. and Leonard, L., 2014. Speech and language impairments in children: Causes, characteristics, intervention and outcome. Psychology press.

Braet, C., Wante, L., Van Beveren, M.L. and Theuwis, L., 2015. Is the cognitive triad a clear marker of depressive symptoms in youngsters?. European child & adolescent psychiatry, 24(10), pp.1261-1268.

Buchanan, G.M. and Seligman, M., 2013. Explanatory style. Routledge.

Corno, L. and Anderman, E.M. eds., 2015. Handbook of educational psychology. Routledge.

Gilbert, P., 2014. Depression: The evolution of powerlessness. Psychology Press.

Rost, M. and Candlin, C.N., 2014. Listening in language learning. Routledge.

Rumbaugh, D.M. ed., 2014. Language learning by a chimpanzee: The Lana project. Academic Press.

Seligman, M.E. and Csikszentmihalyi, M., 2014. Positive psychology: An introduction (pp. 279-298). Springer Netherlands.

Solomon, A., 2014. The noonday demon: An atlas of depression. Simon and Schuster.

Wang, P.S., Beck, A.L., Berglund, P., McKenas, D.K., Pronk, N.P., Simon, G.E. and Kessler, R.C., 2014. Effects of major depression on moment-in-time work performance. American Journal of Psychiatry. 

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