I have always taken a very “grey area” approach tothe Nature vs. Nurture approach while I have known some people to view thisissue as very black and white. This section of the reading really confirmed myassumption as to not being completely one sided, especially in this area oflanguage acquisition. The behaviorist approach to language acquisition as described byBrown is the physical or surface level parts of language. This means thatbehaviorists look at the literal words, and sentences that are spoken and theirmeanings in connection with other things and observe them (pp.
26). Thisapproach focuses on learning language through repetition and listening. Theexample Brown used to explain this theory is if a child asks for milk and theirparent gives them milk then they will connect that language to receiving themilk. Nativist approach believes that language acquisition is morebiological and innate.
People who approach language acquisition in this way believewe are already born with a certain ability to learn and acquire language(pp.28). After reading this section, theway that I understand competence and performance as interdependent is thatcompetence is a guessed upon factor of the performance of a person.
In otherwords, you cannot make an inference on someone’s competence without firstreviewing their performance. An example of this in my own life is from when I playedsoccer. If my coach tried teaching me a field tactic, he could watch me try andattempt it, but my performance could have been weakened due to other factors,like not having the endurance it takes, even if I still had competency of thetactic. My first thoughts are obviously shock and compassionfor Genie.
I also at first wondered if the treatments and studies done on hercontinued to harm or endanger her. This quickly went away after hearing thelinguist speak so fondly and caringly for her. “Language is not just words, language isgrammar, language is sentences, how do you make a sentence?, how do you know itis a sentence?” Susan Curtiss spoke about how language is more than just words,it is everything surrounding words, grammar, sentences, and everythingcognitive and not cognitive around words as well.
I think Genie was unable to fully grasp languagebecause of how stunted her growth was from such a young age. Without thenecessary stimulation and interaction, her brain was stunted and therefore unableto ever fully recover. This case tells us that human interaction is ofupmost importance in first language acquisition. Without enough stimuli andhuman relationship adequate language acquisition is impossible.