Chomsky’s nativist theory argues that humans have a biological prewiring to learn a language at particular periods in their lives and in a certain manner. On the other hand, the interactionist approach to the development of language suggests that the development of language is determined by both social or environmental factors and genetic factors, produced through a combination of the social world in which humans are raised and the genetic predispositions to developing language (Feldman, 2018). Even though the brain is said to be hard-wired for language acquisition, exposure to language through social interactions facilitates the software for understanding and producing language (Hayiou-Thomas, 2018).
The first few years of life are considered the most critical time language readily develops. After which (5 years and above), language acquisition is considered more difficult and eventually less successful (Friedmann & Rusou, 2015). I believe there is a critical period during which children can acquire language more easily and naturally. From a personal experience with children, I have observed some acquire language easily within the first three years. Most children I have interacted with who develop language after three years do so at a slightly slower speed, even though they catch up easily. Therefore, I believe that there is a critical period for language development.
I also believe that culture plays a significant role in language development. Culture affects the language spoken within its constraints as a society; for instance, particular words are used in the context of a certain culture (Painter, 2021). I acquired various ways of communicating verbally and non-verbally in the context of the culture I grew up in, and I believe culture strongly affects language development.
According to Feldman (2018), bilingual speakers demonstrate more cognitive flexibility and can comprehend concepts more quickly than those who only speak one language. This makes them more creative as well as flexible in problem-solving. By age four, bilingual children are said to have superior cognitive development than those who only speak one language, and such benefits extend into old age. Bilingualism also protects from the typical cognitive declines in old age (Feldman, 2018). As a result, I recommend that parents, educators, and caregivers promote bilingualism.
Feldman, R. (2018). Essentials of Understanding Psychology. McGraw-Hill Education.
Friedmann, N., & Rusou, D. (2015). The critical period for the first language: the crucial role of language input during the first year of life. Current opinion in neurobiology, 35, 27-34.
Hayiou-Thomas, M. E. (2018). Genetic and environmental influences on early speech, language, and literacy development. Journal of communication disorders, 41(5), 397-408.
Painter, S. (2021). How Does Language Affect Culture? Explaining the Connection. Retrieved from https://family.lovetoknow.com/cultural-heritage-symbols/how-does-language-affect-culture-explaining-connection#:~:text=Culture%20influences%20the%20language%20that,in%20support%20of%20the%20culture.&text=The%20culture%20develops%20its%20own,body%20language%20and%20voice%20inflections.
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Psychologists offer several major explanations concerning language acquisition. Based on this week’s readings and resources, discuss the importance of biological and environmental influences on language acquisition. Explain whether or not you believe there is a “critical period” for language development.
In thinking about your development or the development of someone you know, do you think culture plays a significant role in language development? Would you recommend that parents, caregivers, and educators promote bilingualism? Why or why not?
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