Language acquisition is a crucial process that every human being goes through once in a
lifetime. A child usually acquires language in the first few years of his or her life. There have
been many theories, and many studies have been done to investigate just how a child acquires a
language at an early age. In the video “Conversation With A Two Year Old,” a two year old girl
communicated with her mother, and it is made clear with the way she communicated that
language acquisition is a natural process and not a learned process. That is, a child acquires a
language by observing various modes of communication and not by being told the grammar and
vocabulary by the adults around him or her.
In the video, when the girl was speaking to her mother, it was easy to see that she was not
being taught the language and or the syntax of it, but was rather reproducing it on her own. She
seemed to be in the middle of twoword stage and small simple sentence stage. When she and her
mother were conversing about their dog, the girl exclaimed that the dog “bite me” (0:58) and “hit
my fingers” (1:14) which were only two words each, but were enough for the mother to
understand whom the girl was talking about. The girl seemed to have some grammatical sense
since she always placed the verb before the noun. The girl did not use grammatical sense in a
way to say ‘me bite.’ This might be due to her observation of how the adults around her spoke,
and by observing the adult speech, she may have grasped this sort of pattern. This showed that,
in fact, children do not need to internalize the maps to distinguish between grammatically right
and wrong sentences. It comes as naturally to them by long observations.
Reinforcement of the language was not exactly present in the video. There were times
when the girl used wrong tenses and wrong grammar when referring to a subject, but her mother
did not teach her the grammar rules. Instead, the mother simply went on with the conversation as
1 Dockery, Jess. "Conversation with a 2 year old" Sept 11 2011. Web, http://www.youtube.com/watch?
2 Macaulay, Ronald K. S. "Theories of Language Development." The Social Art. Oxford: Oxford UP, 2006. 56.
Print. if what the child said was completely correct. For example, when the mother and her daughter
were talking about the cat that the girl “sawded” (0:44) with her brick, the mother did nothing to
tell the girl that the girl was wrong. In fact, the mother simply replied her with grammatically
correct sentences. Another example of this may be when the girl claimed that the dog “eat” her
“rick” (1:26). The mother simply replies her statement by repeating that the dog “ate” her “brick”
(1:28). Even though this may seem like somewhat of reinforcement, since the mother almost
repeated the entire sentence the girl said but grammatically correct, this was not done
consciously. That is, the mother did not continue repeating the sentence until her daughter spoke
it correctly. This explains a theory that reinforcement of a language would not help.
Alternatively, as the girl’s language mechanism , a procedure in which various parts of the brain
work together for language acquisi