My digital allotment

Theories of Language Learning

language learning theories

Dr Nellie Deutsch – Recording from 15th September 2014


After watching this recording I have tried to outline in the briefest possible way a key element of each of these theories. Personally I think it is important that we do not simply aim to choose one of these theories, but strive to use each as a lens or a different perspective of looking at a complex learning task. I feel that we should consider all of these theories (or perspectives) when it comes to language learning.

Theories of Language Learning

1. Behaviourist Theories
2. Universal Grammar Theory
3. Krashen’s Monitor Theory
4. Cognitive Theory
5. Conversation Theory
6. Schumann’s Acculturation Theory

Behaviourist Theories

Behaviour can be changed by using punishments and or rewards.

Theorists: Skinner/ Pavlov

Universal Grammar Theory

Language is innate.

Theorists: Chomsky/ Montague

Krashen’s Monitor Theory

A system like a ‘word processor’ in your brain which allows you to plan and edit your language.

Theorists: Krashen

Cognitive Theory

Learning second or other languages like we/ children learn our/ their first.

Theorists: Piaget

Conversation Theory

Learn through doing – by conversing or trying to use language and communicate you will learn. Talk about the language and it’s rules to learn it.

Theorists: Pask

Schumann’s Acculturation Theory

Language is learned as part of a culture – language level is therefore dependant on acceptance or assimilation with the new culture.

Theorists: Schumann


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