The Principle of Behaviorist Theory:
The major principle of behaviorist theory is that Infants learn or allanguage from their role models and the process is accelerated by rewards and practice. Praise and affection becomes rewards when we praise and shows affection during the process of attempting oral language or while imitating the sounds. Old habits interfere with the acquisition of new ones.
The Background of the Behaviorist Theory
Founder of behaviorist theory is J B Watson. This is a theory about native language learning. Supporters of Watson are Leonard Bloomfield, O N Mowrer, B F Skinner, and A W Staats. Learning is a relatively permanent change in the behavior. It is the earliest language learning theory which focuses on observable behaviors changed as the symptoms of learning.
Behaviorist focuses on the publicly observable response. Learning occurs only when there are changes in behavior and it will be definitely observable as evidence.
B.F.Skinner and his school of thoughts
Language learning is a process as a result of operant conditioning which leads to conditioned behavior as a result of repeated learning. It happens only with the personâ€™s own will as a response to the system of reinforcement to increase or decrease the likelihood of the behavior.
Learning can be effective by manipulating the environment to provide the required experience. This leads to habit formation, where learning process actually takes place. These habits formation and the environment are recognized as Stimulus-Response.
Basic Tenants of Behaviorist Theory:
The basic five principles of behaviorism for language acquisition includes;
It dwells on spoken language. Oral is the primary medium of language. We learn to speak before we learn to write or read. Thatâ€™s the reason why spoken language should be prioritized in language teaching.
It is the habit formation theory of language teaching and learning. It is a mechanical process which leads to the habit formation by the scheme of conditioned reflex. Consequence of behavior controls the language.
The stimulus response chain is a pure form of conditioning. It builds more and more complex behaviors from simplest conditioned response. Clauses and sentences are learned linearly, basically by Markovâ€™s processes.
Reinforcement and rewards will lead to all learning process. Response to a stimulus in a situation depends on whether it is reward or punishment, which will yield conditioning. Habit formation by reinforcement theory explains the correlation of habit formation and coherent reinforcement of response to stimuli.
Each person can learn equally if the conditions in which learning takes place are the same for each person.
Counter arguments on behaviorist theory of language learning:
Behaviorist theory strategies for language learning are imitation, reinforcement and rewarding but researchers concluded that childrenâ€™s imitation of structure shows evidence of almost no innovation and children vary considerably what they imitate .Their capacity to imitate vary in different rates naturally they learn at different rates. The process of imitation has received a very little support from the available evidence.
In behaviorist theory, the process of learning relies more on simplification, fulfilling, acclimatizing, three of which support the development of analogical learning in children. But it can be argued that a process of learning or teaching that inspires the learner to construct phrases, clauses and sentence modelled on previously settled set of rules and drills is thought to hamper the instinctive production of language. Then, habit formation exercises may not naturally promote intrinsically.
Instinctive based learning obstruction will harm the creative way of thinking. It takes long enough for achieving capability in learning language at least intrinsically. Language learning should be done consciously. To reach the threshold level repetition and developing linguistic intuition is needed; otherwise language learner wonâ€™t be creative and cannot use language properly in a new situation.
Social influence on learning is not satisfactorily explained.
Each person cannot learn equally well in the same conditions. Background and experience of learners determines the learning capacity. There should be an innate capacity that predisposes them to look for basic patterns in language.
The main strategies of the behaviorist theory can only be true for the early stages of learning.
The learning processes are mostly too complex.
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