Steven
The death of behavorism in language acquisition

This interesting clip shows why Skinner's behaviorism ideas of language acquisition in children won't die although they've been repeatedly debunked as total rubbish:


https://youtu.be/OrQ0LfqxABM


May 7, 2018 12:39 AM
Comments · 1

I agree that  behaviorism has a lot of problems, and can't account for all of language.  However, rewards and punishments can be a big short-term motivator for long-term learning.  I have seen young children who would gladly commit bloody murder if they thought it would earn them a sticker from their teacher.  People will put insane amounts of work to change their avatar in a learning app or watch a lazily-animated three-second fireworks display. 

But of course rewards and punishments aren't the only components of Skinner conditioning: there's also the formation of  an immediate, unthinking association between the reward or punishment and the target action.  This is useful too.  When I click on an answer I'm not sure about on a language-learning  site, my shoulders tense and my adrenaline spikes while I wait to be punished with a flashing red "X".  Is that enough to make me learn a language?  No.  But it provides a nice bit of short-term motivation to supplement my long-term goals.

May 7, 2018
Steven
Language Skills
Dutch, English, German
Learning Language
Dutch