Describe theoretical perspectives in relation to speech, language and communication development

Qualification: NCFE CACHE Level 3 Diploma for the Early Years Educator
Unit: Unit 3.10: Develop the speech, language and communication of children
Learning outcome: Understand theory and current frameworks which underpin children’s speech, language and communication development.
Assessment criteria: Describe theoretical perspectives in relation to speech, language and communication development

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Over the years, researchers have developed a variety of theoretical perspectives to explain speech, language and communication development. These perspectives explore the cognitive processes associated with language acquisition and communication development in both children and adults. This article will discuss three of the most commonly used theoretical perspectives—behaviourism, nativism, and emergentism—and their implications for understanding speech, language, and communication development.

Behaviourism

Behaviourism is a psychological theory that looks at how environmental influences can shape behaviour. According to this perspective, behaviours are learned through a process of reinforcement or punishment. In terms of speech, language and communication development, behaviourism suggests that these skills can be acquired through imitation and repetition. For example, when a child hears someone speaking in their native language they may attempt to mimic the words they hear in order to gain reinforcement from the speaker.

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Nativism

Nativism is a theory that suggests that some aspects of human behaviour are innate rather than learned through experience or observation. In terms of speech, language and communication development, nativism proposes that humans have an innate ability to acquire language because it is biologically programmed into our brains. Nativists argue that people are born with an instinctive knowledge of grammar rules which enables them to learn how to communicate without explicit instruction or teaching. This theory suggests that even without exposure to language we would still be able to develop basic forms of communication.

Emergentism

Emergentism is a relatively new theoretical perspective which suggests that complex behaviours such as speech, language and communication emerge out of simpler behaviours in response to environmental factors such as social interaction. Emergentists believe that these behaviours are not pre-programmed into our brains but instead arise out of our interactions with others in our environment. They argue that these interactions create new patterns which lead to more complex forms of communication such as syntax and grammar usage.
Suggests that complex behaviours such as speech, language & communication emerge out of simpler behaviours in response to environmental factors like social interaction

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Summary

In conclusion, there are three main theoretical perspectives on speech, language and communication development—behaviourism, nativism and emergentism—each of which offers its own unique insight into this important area of study. By understanding these perspectives better we can gain a greater understanding about how people learn languages as well as how existing languages evolve over time. As research continues on this subject we may gain further insight into the complexities involved in acquiring new languages as well as developing novel forms of expression within existing languages.

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