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Language Development is Solely the Product of Conditioning

Language Development is Solely the Product of Conditioning

Language development remains one of the most important issues in the psychology and other related sciences. According to Burrhus Frederic Skinner, behaviorist vision represents the main idea of language development. Behavior modification consists of “procedures that combine conditioning and modeling to eliminate undesirable behaviors and increase desirable responses” (Berger, 2004, p. 18). In other words, different aspects of human behavior are based on behaviorist theory expressed via coping the actions and behaviors of other people who exist in the same environment. Language develops only in society. This theory is supported by the fact that speech began to emerge during the time when social relationships began to appear in the ancient world. One cannot start speaking without being put in necessary environment and subjected to appropriate conditions. Children start speaking when they imitate sounds and intonations of their parents or other people they communicate with. Environment plays an important role in language development, as depending on conditions a child is put into, his/her future language skills and abilities are going to be formed.

Supporting this theory, Berger (2004) agrees that language is learnt on the basis of particular conditions one appears into. Age is one of these conditions as becoming older people are unable to learn language in the full sense compared to children. Being born, infants are able to repeat sounds. It explains the changes of the sounds a child expresses, he/she listens to the surrounding world and tries to repeat what is heard. Strengthening imitation of stimuli and reinforcement which are the components of operant conditioning, children learn language they hear. When a child imitates sounds of adults and surrounding environment he/she does not understand the meaning. Understanding comes further with the development of a personality and other cognitive processes. Therefore, language development is solely the product of conditioning based on Skinner, behaviorist theory.

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