Association for Behavior Analysis International

The Association for Behavior Analysis International® (ABAI) is a nonprofit membership organization with the mission to contribute to the well-being of society by developing, enhancing, and supporting the growth and vitality of the science of behavior analysis through research, education, and practice.


33rd Annual Convention; San Diego, CA; 2007

Event Details

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Invited Paper Session #495
CE Offered: BACB

Language Acquisition: Three Popular Myths Debunked

Tuesday, May 29, 2007
11:00 AM–11:50 AM
Douglas B
Area: TPC; Domain: Theory
CE Instructor: Ted Schoneberger, Ph.D.
Chair: Sam Leigland (Gonzaga University)
TED SCHONEBERGER (Stanislaus County Office of Education, Modesto, CA)
Ted G. Schoneberger has had 25 years of experience providing behavioral interventions to "special needs" clients. He is a Board Certified Behavior Analyst and currently employed as a behavior specialist for Stanislaus County Office of Education (Modesto, CA). He served for 16 years as a member of the adjunct faculty at California State University, Stanislaus, teaching courses in the Psychology Department and the Advanced Studies in Education Department. He has published papers and given presentations on theoretical and applied issues within behavior analysis. Specifically, with respect to the subject of language, he has published papers: (a) detailing Chomsky's departure from cognitivism, (b) reviewing arguments countering the Poverty of the Stimulus argument, and (c) most recently, critiquing selected autism treatment research (the latter appearing in the on-line Journal of Speech-Language Pathology and Applied Behavior Analysis). He served for years as a board member of the Northern California Association for Behavior Analysis (now Cal-ABA) and is a past president of that organization. He also played a prominent role in bringing board certification of behavior analysts to California. He helped found the Society for Chaos Theory in Psychology, and serves as a member of the editorial board of The Analysis of Verbal Behavior.

A number of myths have been promulgated within the language acquisition literature. Of these myths, three have had a particularly deleterious effect on attempts to promote a behavior analytic approach to language acquisition. These myths are: Myth#1: Brown and Hanlon (1970), in their classic study, claimed that they were offering evidence that parents do not reinforce their children's grammatical utterances. This myth appears in the published works of psycholinguists, developmental psychologists, and even some behavior analysts. Myth#2: In his paper "Language Identification in the Limit," Gold (1967) proved that, without negative evidence (e.g., corrective feedback), a child cannot acquire a language. As with Myth#1, this second myth is widely and frequently cited. Myth#3: There is a single, valid definition of "verbal behavior." This myth is at the heart of the current call by proponents of relational frame theory to replace Skinner's definition with one they propose. In this paper, arguments and supporting evidence will be offered for rejecting these three myths.




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