domingo, 31 de octubre de 2010

Noam Chomsky and language acquisition revisited

Some posts ago, we talked about Stephen Krashen and the Natural Approach, video of Krashen included. Today, our post involves Noam Chomsky, the researcher and thinker who confronted B. F. Skinner´s book Verbal Behaviour where Skinner explained his theory of how languages were learned by stimulus-response-reinforcement.

Chomsky has been extremely influential in the study of language acquisition. Among his contributions, he posited the theory that all humans are born with the innate capacity for languages (Nativism) and that this born-skill works thanks to a Language Acquisition Device (LAD) that we all possess. READ. The LAD is not an organ –like the heart or the stomach– that we can point out and study physically, but some kind of “wiring” that the brain has and explains, according to Chomsky, why humans (together with the physical characteristics of people) can pick up language from the environment and develop it creatively.

Another theory, credited to Ch

omsky but actually much older, is Universal Grammar. UG states that all grammar rules are already hard-wired in the pers

on´s brain at the moment of birth. For more information, read this article.

The video below (from YouTube, where else?) is a funny interview that the British comedian Sacha Baron Cohen (Borat, Bruno) had with Chomsky for his TV show Da Ali G Show. Do not be shocked by the horrible and "soft" English Ali G speaks, that´s the character´s personality; on the contrary, enjoy the silly things he says, and watch Chomsky´s reactions. (BONUS: Watch this interview with David and Victoria Beckham for comic Relief –this one has nothing to do with ELT, by the way; it´s just a pointer for a good laugh).

Thanks for the comments and for reading this blog.

Cesar Klauer

Click here for the video on YouTube

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