Every year, the Central Board of Secondary Education releases CTET notification inviting eligible students to apply for recruitment as a teacher. The exam is carried out during the months of December and July across the country. CTET exam comprises of two papers, which comprehensively cover each topic of the syllabus. One of the most important topics that students must learn and understand is the Theories of Language Learning. Today, we will discuss all Language Learning Theories in this blog, hoping that it will help aspiring candidates with CTET preparation.
Theories of Language Learning – CTET
What is Language?
Language is the primary means of communication for humans. However, there are ways to communicate without the use of language. We often define language as a written and verbal system where symbols and sounds come together in a particular way to convey meaning.
Learning a new language is however not easy. There are several theories proposed by eminent psychologists and sociologists that explain the art of learning a new language.
Theories of Language Learning
Below are some of the famous Theories of Language Learning –
- Chomsky’s Language Acquisition Device
Noam Chomsky first suggested the concept of the Language Acquisition Device. LAD is an instinctive mental capacity that enables a baby to acquire and form language. Chomsky’s LAD is a component of the Nativist Language Theory. The theory argues that humans are born with an innate facility or instinct to acquire language.
Chomsky proposed that all children are born with a LAD meaning, they have an innate understanding of the ‘rules of language’ – they only need to acquire vocabulary. He points out that an infant could not possibly learn a language simply through imitation because the language spoken around them is extremely irregular. An adult person’s speech is broken up often, and grammatically incorrect sometimes. The theory applies to all languages because they all contain verbs, nouns, vowel and consonant – and kids ‘hard-wired’ to acquire the grammar. Every language is highly complex and often come with subtle distinctions that are hard to interpret. However, all kids, regardless of intellectual abilities, are able to speak the native language fluently by age five or six.
- Vygotsky’s Zone of Proximal Development
According to psychologist Lev Vygotsky, language acquisition not only involves a kid’s exposure to words but also an interdependent growth process between language and thought. His famous theory of ‘Zone of Proximal Development’ argues that teachers and parents should take into account the child’s potential ability to learn before trying to broaden his/her grasp of the language.
Based on a constructive theory, Vygotsky’s theory of language learning contends that kids acquire knowledge due to engaging in social experiences. As per Vygotsky, words are signals. Instead of engaging children in a signal system, where objects are merely referred to as themselves, parents engage them in a secondary signal system where words represent ideas and objects. Moreover, Vygotsky believed that intellectual ability also plays a crucial role in language development. A child becomes able to develop inner, private speech by interacting with the surroundings. It is through the inner speech that the child is able to distinguish between language and thought, and is eventually able to express their thoughts to others coherently.
Theories of Language Learning – The Different Stages of Language Development
Language Development in children occurs in six stages, starting from the first month after the child is born. Each of the stages is described below –
- Stage 1 – The Pre-linguistic Stage
The child is in the pre-linguistic or pre-speech stage during the first year of life. Speech-related developmental aspects include making eye contact, forming gestures, sound repartee between the parent/caretaker and the child, babbling, cooing, and crying. Making a sound like ‘mamamama’, ‘dadadada’, and ‘waaaaah’ are some of the examples of pre-linguistic sounds.
- Stage 2 – The One-word Sentence Phase
The child reaches this phase between the age of 10 months and 13 months. Although the kid makes an attempt to utter a single word at a time, its meaning is supplemented by non-verbal cues and the context in which it takes place. For example – the child trying to reach out to his/her feeding bottle may lean over the edge of the cot pointing at it and crying ‘botty’ in a commanding way.
- Stage 3 – The Two-word Sentence Phase
The child reaches this stage by the time they turn 18 months old. Their sentences usually comprise of a verb or a noun and a modifier. This enables the baby to formulate a sentence, which may be negative, declarative, interrogative, or imperative. For example –
- Declarative – ‘Doggy big’
- Interrogative – ‘Where ball’
- Negative – ‘Not egg’
- Imperative – ‘More sugar!’
- Stage 4 – The Multiple-word Phase
Between age two and two and a half, the child reaches this stage. Grammatical morphemes are used in the form of suffixes or prefixes when changing tenses or meaning. Furthermore, the kid is able to form sentences with a predicate and a subject in this phase. Take the following for instance –
- ‘Where is ball?’
- ‘Doggy is big.’
- Stage 5 – Complex Grammatical Structures
Children reach this stage once they turn two and a half or three. They tend to use complex and more intricate grammatical structures, add elements like prepositions and conjunction to the sentences. For instance –
- ‘Take me to the park’ – Use of preposition
- ‘Read it, my book’ – Use of conjunction
- Stage 6 – More Mature Language Structures
The child reaches the developmental stage between age five and six. He/she is now able to make complex structural distinctions using certain concepts like ‘promise’ and ‘tell/ask’ and changing the order of words in a sentence accordingly. For example –
- ‘She promised to help him’
- ‘Ask him what time it is’
Many sociologists and psychologists have portrayed the various Theories of Language Learning differently. You can learn about each of the theories in a more comprehensive manner by going through CTET study materials available on the site. The study materials also come handy for those looking to sit for the STET exam. We recommend you take the online CTET mock tests on Oliveboard to ensure that your preparation is top-notch.
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