Views on Behaviorism and Mentalism as Influential Theories of Language acquisition and Foreign Language Learning

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The field of applied linguistics particularly the field of language teaching as a foreign language has always left the chance open to scientific and educational research seeking an efficient way to teach a foreign language for communication. This means researches pave the road for teachers to enable learners to learn their target languages. Researches work to facilitate processes of learning by facilitating the teaching procedures. As results of the findings of these researches, the last decades have seen the emergence of varieties of theories by some prominent linguists, educators, and psychologists worldwide. For example, behaviorism theory by Skinner which interpret language as behavioral habits of skills that can be learned by means of stimulus and response. Upon this theory, numerous teaching methods for teaching English as a second or foreign language have been based. However this theory faced a serious criticism in 1950s by Chomsky that minimized its position, it has enriched the field of applied linguistics with tremendous number of ideas by mean of researches. Then the emergence of Mentalisim theory by Chomsky which replaced the behaviorism by interpreting language as a latent mental ability/faculty known as innateness. It has logically justified the nature of language and the nature of human mind behavior. Where humans are born with latent ability to acquire and learn languages. Then came the evidence of Critical Period in human life during which any person can learn language at ease and fluency. This period starts at age of two years and extends to a period when the brain reaches a complete lateralization. That is to say a right hemisphere and a left hemisphere known as adultery age. After lateralization has been completed, learning a language becomes difficult. Therefore this article discusses some theoretical ideas that might help offer guidance to teachers of foreign language.