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Learning the Art of Language Acquisition: The Noam Chomsky Theory

Medically reviewed by Ruben Macapinlac, MD, DPPS · Pediatrics · Philippine Pediatric Society

Written by Fiel Tugade · Updated Sep 12, 2022

    Learning the Art of Language Acquisition: The Noam Chomsky Theory

    As we all know, language plays an important role in our daily lives. It refers to the system that combines symbols, letters, and words to create meaningful statements. These formed sentences and statements allow people to communicate and connect. But, it takes a while to learn to speak a language and to be able to converse, most especially for children. Thus, it’s natural to wonder how kids learn language. This article shares what the Noam Chomsky theory has to say about language acquisition. 

    Who is Noam Chomsky?

    Noam Chomsky is widely regarded as the father of modern linguistics for his major contributions in the same field. 

    A few of his notable published works are as follows:

    • Syntactic Structures
    • Aspects of the Theory of Syntax
    • Language and Mind
    • The Minimalist Program

    All of these works placed great importance on the development of language. He also made use of his knowledge and expertise in developing several concepts and systems that support the fundamental brain structure, which include:

    • Chomsky hierarchy
    • Generative grammar
    • Universal grammar

    The latter is the most prominent one as it promotes language as an innate faculty.

    The Noam Chomsky theory explains that children are also born with the capacity to learn about special language-learning mechanisms.

    An In-depth Look Into the Noam Chomsky Theory

    Noam Chomsky believes that every human being is born with the innate capability to learn and speak a language.

    Every child also has the opportunity to learn the language easily without needing formal instruction. It happens naturally, whether their parents take much of their time to consciously teach them or not. 

    Once children begin to use their listening skills with their parents, they are already unconsciously recognizing the type of language they are hearing.

    Over time, they begin to understand how some words are forms of action (verbs) while others are more of plain nouns. This is why the parents, or any primary caregiver, play a significant role during a child’s formative years of development.

    This concept of natural predisposition from the Noam Chomsky theory is guided by what he calls the language acquisition device (LAD).

    It works as an innate program that contains a schema for human language. Through this form of mechanism, children are able to match and interpret what they hear according to the underlying structure. 

    noam chomsky theory

    How the Language Acquisition Device (LAD) Works

    While it is normal for us to hear kids make grammatical mistakes like “I sawed” or “sheeps,” it does not mean that it is something they heard from the people around them. This only implies that children do make use of their own LAD to learn how language works and the principles attached to it. 

    Even across cultures, the LAD pays close attention to the language input of the infant’s world and gradually begins to make sounds. This is then followed by speaking out words and forming sentences.

    Over time, they will be able to master the skill and be able to consider and adopt the necessary grammatical principles set by the LAD.

    Moreover, universal grammar also takes into account the following aspects essential in language development:

    • Phonemes (fundamental sounds of language)
    • Morphology (study of word construction)
    • Syntax (rules for the order of words)
    • Pragmatics (practical social contexts and uses of language)

    Key Takeaways

    The Noam Chomsky theory reflects the importance of how every growing child has an innate awareness of how language works. It is wired into the developing brain with the intent of learning the language in the most natural way possible. 
    This profound influence brings great value to how far language development has evolved throughout the years. 

    Learn more about parenting here. 


    Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

    Medically reviewed by

    Ruben Macapinlac, MD, DPPS

    Pediatrics · Philippine Pediatric Society

    Written by Fiel Tugade · Updated Sep 12, 2022

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