Two Theories of Literacy Development

Category: Literacy, Theories
Last Updated: 27 Jan 2021
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In this task I am going to identify 2 different theories of language development I am going to be doing, Naom Chomsky and Jean Piaget. Jean Piaget According to Piaget, language development is related to cognitive development, that is, the development of the child’s thinking determines when the child can learn to speak and what the child can say. For example, before a child can say, “This teddy is smaller than that one”, she/he must have developed the ability to judge differences in size.

In Piaget’s view, children learn to talk ‘naturally’ when they are ‘ready’ without any deliberate teaching by adults he thinks children pick up language by repeated behavior. From doing his research into children’s language and how they think, Piaget put his theory on the idea that children do not think like adults he thought that they learnt through schemas which is repeatable behaviour which you see in children as they play and then Piaget thought that through their play and interactions with their surroundings children build up their own understanding of the world.

And Piaget thinks language development comes from logical thinking and reasoning skills. Schemas Schemas are patterns of repeatable behaviour which you might see children do everyday through play and on placements I have seen children do things on placements. Schema: Transporting I have seen most children when I’ve been at placement doing this e. g. when they carry blocks from one place to another either in a bag or trolley or when they take sane from the sand tray to the sensory area this is transporting. Rotation this is when children are fascinated by things spinning e. . the washing machine or anything with wheels they like rolling things down a hill and children enjoy spinning around or being swung around. An example of how children could learn language though schemas could be, if a chid is rolling or pushing a toy car along the floor. And it goes under the sofa they will say something like ‘oh or its gone’ only as they do it more and more and they have influence through the environment they will become more advance in there language and later on the child will be ale to identify that its gone under the sofa.

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Piaget thinks children pass through 4 distinct stages: sensory motor, pre-operational; concrete operational; formal operational. Sensory-Motor Period According to Piaget’s theory he thinks children are born with basic ‘action schemas’ such as sucking and grasping. The sensory-motor period starts from birth to 2 years. This is when the children are doing their basic action schemas to take in information about the world. Piaget describes two functions of children's language: the "egocentric" and the "socialized. During the sensory-motor period, children's language is "egocentric": they talk either for themselves or "for the pleasure of associating anyone who happens to be there with the activity of the moment. " This stage involves the use of motor activity without the use of symbols. Knowledge is limited in this stage, because it is based on physical interactions and experiences. Infants cannot predict reaction, and therefore must constantly experiment and learn through trial and error. Such exploration might include shaking a rattle or putting objects in the mouth. As they become more mobile, infants' ability to develop cognitively increases.

Early language development begins during this stage. Children show that they know objects are still the when they can’t see them at 7-9 months, demonstrating that memory is developing. Infants realize that an object exists after it can no longer be seen. The pre-operational stage usually occurs between toddlerhood (18-24months) and early childhood (7 years). During this stage children begin to use language; memory and imagination also develop. In the pre-operational stage, children engage in make believe and can understand and express relationships between the past and the future.

More complex concepts, such as cause and effect relationships, have not been learned. Intelligence is egocentric and spontaneous, not logical. The Concrete Operations Stage, this stage was believed to have affected children aged between seven and eleven to twelve years old. During this stage, the thought process becomes more rational, mature and 'adult like', or more 'operational', although this process most often continues well into the teenage years. Piaget claims that before the beginning of this stage, children's ideas about different objects, are ormed and dominated by the appearance of the object. For example, there appears to be more blocks when they are spread out, than when they are in a small pile. During the Concrete Operational Stage, children gradually develop the ability to 'conserve', or learn that objects are not always the way that they appear to be. This occurs when children are able to take in many different aspects of an object, simply through looking at it. Children are able to begin to imagine different scenarios, or 'what if' something was to happen. This is because they now have more 'operational' thought.

Children are generally first able to conserve ideas about objects with which they are most comfortable. Once children have learnt to conserve, they learn about 'reversibility'. This means that they learn that if things are changed, they will still be the same as they used to be. For example, they learn that if they spread out the pile of blocks, there are still as many there as before, even though it looks different! Formal Operations Stage (11yrs-16yrs) Finally, in the formal operational stage of adolescence, When faced with a complex problem, the adolescent things about all possible solutions before trying them out in the real world.

So when the child has passed through these stages Piaget thinks they are ready for the world and they will be able to sort things out throughout their life. Noam Chomsky Chomsky believes that children are born with an inherited ability to learn any human language. He claims that certain language structures which children use so accurately must be already engraved on the child’s mind. Chomsky believes that every child has a ‘language acquisition device’ or LAD which stores children’s language and structures for them to use and expand using their growing vocabulary.

Chomsky points out that a child could not possibly learn a language through imitation alone because the language spoken around them is highly irregular – adult’s speech is often broken up and even sometimes ungrammatical. Chomsky’s theory applies to all languages as they all contain nouns, verbs, consonants and vowels and children appear to be ‘hard-wired’ to acquire the grammar. Every language is extremely complex, often with subtle distinctions which even native speakers are unaware of.

However, all children, regardless of their intellectual ability, become fluent in their native language within five or six years. Chomsky thinks children learn language quickly and easily, and he thinks language is natural. All babies babble the same sounds, deaf babble. I’ve notice children at my placement make grammar mistakes and example would be, a child fell over in the playground and they said ‘I fellded down’ instead of saying ‘I feel down’ so Chomsky thinks children learn this themselves and we influence it as they get older because they listen to what we say and then we would say ‘oh have a fell down’.

So by use saying it the correct way were hoping that the child them remembers this. Evaluation: Both Piaget and Chomsky believe that language is just something that children are born with and that it’s not through nurturing them but they believe that nurturing will help bring on their language and support it. Piaget thinks language development is related to cognitive development, that is, the development of the child’s thinking controls when the child can learn to speak and what the child can say.

For example, before a child can say, “This teddy is smaller than that one”, she/he must have developed the ability to judge differences in size. Whereas Chomsky just thinks children will pick up the language but he believe it’s get influenced but people around but he think vocabulary has to be learned and that grammar is influenced by interaction. Chomsky he thinks children are born with all that is needed to produce language, but Piaget thinks parents and carers reinforce and therefore shape children’s language.

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