There are two basic theories for language acquisition. Noam Chomsky’s theory, which is believed people have a basic
pattern of learning language inside of their brain since they were born. On the other hand, B. F. Skinner’s theory which
is believed people have to be taught how to speak by someone for language acquisition. I mostly agree with Chomsky theory
and partly Skinner theory. People usually don’t remember how they learned to speak, but everybody speaks their first
language without any problems. Some Children even speak more than two languages naturally. Language is a unique system which
only humans have. However, if it’s correct rules or grammars of language people might have to study. There also seems
to be critical period for learning language.
People speak their language without studying. It means people already have an ability of language pattern in their brain.
When I was in elementary school there were Japanese classes. I studied writing and reading but not speaking. I could already
speak Japanese. I have a two year old niece. She has already started speaking. Of course she has never studied. So, people
must have some kind of language ability innately.
According to an article I saw in kccesl.tripod.com, Chomsky says “human brain contains a language acquisition device
(LAD) which automatically analyzes the components of speech a child hears.” I support this theory. The human brain has
special function, unlikely other animals. That’s why only humans speak languages. Learning language for a human is very
easy because the human brain already contains ability of language, so even children start to speak language naturally in their
People in young age are very easy to acquire more than two languages at same time. Even if those languages are very different,
and their parents don’t speak those languages. It also proves people must have an ability to function in any language
In contrast theory, there is a very famous case. A girl, Genie, was language got deprived during her critical period, which
is considered to be between 4 and 12, of learning first language, and she couldn’t acquire her language skill normally
even though she studied. This fact supports B. F. Skinner’s theory. However, this is a very unusual case. She might
not have only language problem, but even mental problem since she was locked in a room for 13 years. There is also a proof
that Genie was about speak without studying right after she was locked up. “since her mother reported that she heard
Genie saying words right after she was locked up” from THE CIVILIZING OF GENIE by MAYA PINES.
Since Genie’s case was discovered, Chomsky added to his theory that “the innate mechanisms that underlie this
competence must be activated by exposure to language at the proper time” from THE CIVILIZING OF GENIE by MAYA PINES.
This theory got little closer to B. F Skinner’s theory. Even young children speak language without learning, but they
often make mistakes in their speech. While they are growing, their number of mistakes in their speech decreases. They are
learning how to speak, so in this case some part of Skinner’s theory is also correct.
Similarly, learning second language for people in older age supports Skinner’s theory. People have to keep learning
language to improve their second language. It hardly ever gets perfect because people have to learn all rules and structures
from beginning which don’t apply to their first language. If we have learning language system innately, why can’t
we easily adjust to speak another language? We can’t apply Chomsky’s theory at all in this case.
In conclusion, until people reach critical period of learning language, people learn their language automatically without
being taught because of their innate ability of language. Furthermore, if there are more than two languages which children
hear, children will be able to acquire both of them at the same time. Nevertheless, the ability of language has to be activated
in the first place by something. Otherwise, people never begin to acquire their language. Once people past the critical period,
it is hard to learn any language. Thereby, people in older age usually have problem learning second language. Both Chomsky’s
and Skinner’s theories are correct in different cases and language acquisition system works with both of them together.