Answer to Question #104785 in Psychology for Roxana Remache

Question #104785
At the outset of the intensive language training undertaken by Susan Curtis, there was considerable optimism about Genie’s language potential. Genie’s discovery also provided the potential to apply empirical evidence to theoretical debate. Discuss the potential of Genie’s case in light of that theoretical debate.
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Expert's answer
2020-03-06T06:18:51-0500

One of the most contested issues that arose from Genie’s case is the Nature-Nurture debate in language acquisition (Cherry, 2019). Genie’s case was published in 1970, it involved a 13-year-old girl who lived in isolation and had not acquired a primary language or any linguistic capabilities (Cherry, 2019).

Different researchers attempted to teach her linguistic skills but due to complexity in her case, they were not successful. However, the case probed an array of theoretical approaches in understanding first language learning.

On one hand, Nativist researchers argue that the capacity of learning language is innate. In this, learning the first language occurs because people are born with a language acquisition device (LAD) that supports their learning abilities (Cherry, 2019). Alternatively, empirical researchers compare acquiring language as a form of behavior where there is a critical period (before 12 years for humans) where an organism is sensitive to external stimuli and can learn a first language (Cherry, 2019).


Cherry, K. (2019). The Story of Feral Child Genie Willey. Retrieved from Very well mind.  https://www.verywellmind.com/genie-the-story-of-the-wild-child-2795241       


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