response 1 and response 2


Response 1

Select a theory from one of the following categories to apply to the case study: behaviorist, linguistic (e.g., Chomsky), or interactionist.  Post an explanation of how your selected theory would explain the language development of the children in the case study and why.

           One of the most important implications of any behavioral theories is the ability of it to be measured or observed.  With such difficulty in the mental process of this type of theory, focus can be placed on environmental factors that create a stimulus, along with specific behavior due to the stimulus i.e. the response.  Behaviorist emphasize performance over competence, and focus on learning because they regard language as a skill, a specific type of behavior (Gleason, 2017).

           Children are ‘little cryptographers,” meaning they used their knowledge of language to decipher their mother tongue; noting that exposure develops the native tongue and linguistic parameters (Gleason, 2017).  This means the more the child is exposed to a certain language or behavior, the more likely it is of them to acquire such language or behavior.  This is why children are able to learn several languages so easily if exposed earlier in life as opposed to later.

           In the article ‘A linguistic big bang,” children developed their own form of communication despite their disability and living or learning conditions.  This is deemed to be true as seen with the articles explanation of when the children arrived in Managua, they only had limited repertory of mimicas, however when the children were placed together they began to build on one another’s signs (Osborne, 1999).  Language is the product of a shadowy collusion between biological predisposition and social stimulus (Osborne, 1999).  Having known this, the environment was the stimulus and the ability to learn the sign language was the response.

           Noting this article and behavioral theory can be compared to language in children with autism.  With application, shaping and modification techniques children with very limited speech skills have made drastic progress in learning to speak or use language (Gleason, 2017).  Not only children whom are deaf are able to communicate but also children with a wide variety of deficits or disabilities.  The behavioral theory supports language development simply by exposure to this environment and the adaptation and assimilation learned.  These are all known traits of the measurable/observation theory of behavior.  With increase exposure the children’s language developed and grew into a reportable form of communication.  What was not known, was created, viewed and repeated; equaling the perfect defining characteristics of the behaviorist theory.


Gleason, J. B., & Ratner, N. B. (2017). The development of language (9th ed.). Boston, MA: Pearson.  Chapter 7, “Theoretical Approaches to Language Acquisition” (pp. 158–195).

Osborne, L. (1999). A linguistic big bang. New York Times Magazine, 84–89.

Response 2

The case study for this week’s discussion involved deaf children in Nicaragua who developed their own language and way of communication when the teachers’ efforts to communicate effectively proved to be unsuccessful (Osborne, 1999).  Although I do believe that everyone is predisposed to the tendency to communicate in some way the theory I’ve selected that would explain the language development of the children in the case study would be a behaviorist approach. Behaviorism involves environmental stimuli, reinforcement, and response which prompts a target language behavior that is observable (Gleason & Ratner, 2017).  An example of behaviorism in the children of the case study was the notation of differences between the younger children’s communication compared to the older children signers. The article details the use of a sign for the word “speak”, which was communicated differently from the older children to the younger children.  It was determined that the younger children modified the hand gesture for the word and did so in a way that communicated verb agreement (Osborne, 2017).  The modification of language and manipulation of the use of the language is the very essence of behaviorism.  The language in the younger children was clearly learned through environmental stimuli.  Another example that further explains the use of behaviorism approach would be the linking of concepts to verbal language and behavior.  Researchers in the article explained the encounter involving use of sign to gesture the need for a sanitary napkin (Osborne, 1999).  For me this put the ideas of behaviorism approach into context in that the concept of menstruation prompted the need to verbalize or in this case gesture to communicate a need.   


Gleason, J. B., & Ratner, N. B. (2017). The development of language (9th ed.). Boston, MA: Pearson.

Osborne, L. (1999). A linguistic big bang. New York Times Magazine, 84–89.

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