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Language Development: The Nature Vs. Nurture Debate
The Learning Theory
The Learning Theory
The Nativist Theory
The Interactionist Theory
Genie and Victor
Techniques for Language Development
Favorite Links


The learning theory believes that language is developed through learning.  Researchers, such as B. F. Skinner and Albert Bandura, have found that infants learn language through operant conditioning, reinforcement, imitation and observational learning.  Others believe that language cannot be acquired through learning.  Reinforcement is also not necessarily an element that can produce correct language because parents and caregivers will reinforce an incorrect sentence as often as a correct sentence. Children are also able to put together a sentence without learning the exact sentence.  Example:  Parent says, “I dropped the plate on the floor”, the child is able to say, “I dropped the toy down the stairs” without hearing the exact sentence.  The child has the capability of modifying the sentence to fit the situation.

There are too many associations to be made for it to be possible to acquire language.  Parents also reward their children for incomplete sentences as well as complete sentences.  Children are able to put a sentence together without hearing that exact sentence.