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What is language acquisition theory?

Language acquisition theory is a theory that attempts to explain how languages are learned. In the field of linguistics, there are various approaches that assign different importance to predisposition and environmental influences as factors in language learning. The most important theories of language acquisition are behaviourism, nativism, cognitivism and interactionism.

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The emergence of language acquisition theories

The question of whether internal or external factors play a greater role in children’s linguistic development drives linguists all over the world. On the one hand, the genetic prerequisites for language acquisition are examined and, on the other, the outside influences such as linguistic role models and the encouragement of language acquisition. To date, it has not been conclusively clarified how children learn language. The most important language acquisition theories are explained in this article.

Definition of language acquisition

Language acquisition generally refers to the acquisition of the mother tongue by a child. The process of language development takes place under natural conditions and therefore does not require teaching.

Language acquisition by children

As a rule, children begin to speak at the age of one to two years. Although their cognitive development is still in its infancy, they are already able to form grammatically correct sentences. Today it is assumed that language acquisition is influenced by social and biological as well as cognitive factors. So, on the one hand there is a genetic predisposition to language learning, but at the same time the process is also influenced by family and culture.

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FAQ: More questions on language acquisition theory

What are the theories of language acquisition?

There are many theories that deal with the acquisition of language. The most important are behaviourism, nativism, cognitivism and interactionism.

What is language acquisition?

Language acquisition refers to the uncontrolled process of acquiring a language by a child.

How does language acquisition work?

Children go through several stages of language acquisition, which are only briefly mentioned here. As early as in the mother’s womb, the foetus perceives the mother’s voice. After birth, the infant first learns sounds that become whole words over time. Between the ages of 18 and 24 months, the child begins to form sentences, first with two words and later with more words, because by then they have recognised that words and sentences are based on a certain grammar. At around three years of age, most children can form complete sentences and improve their skills in the following years.

When is language acquisition complete?

According to language acquisition research, the process of language development is completed at around seven years of age.

What factors promote language acquisition?

Attention, interaction and patience are important factors when it comes to supporting a child in their language development.

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