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Home » » What is operant conditioning ?

Operant conditioning is a behavioural action that is reinforced  by reward. Operant is a behaviour that operates in a given situation and generates consequences. Operant conditioning determines the  repetition of that behaviour though reinforcement. If there is negative reinforcement, repeated behaviour decreases ; and if there is positive reinforcement, learned behaviour continues Negative reinforcement could be punishment,  scolding,  and so forth. On the other hand,  positive reinforcement could be appreciation,  encouragement and so on.

Operant conditioning is a very useful theory in terms of language teaching and learning. It is very usual that language learners would make mistakes while learning a language. If they are stopped every time they make a mistake, they might be afraid of participating. At one point,  they might be silent. As language teachers, we should be aware that we should not say anything to students that would work as negative reinforcement. We should give positive reinforcement for their participation in discussion. We have to encourage them to express their opinions. Through this way,  we can create operant conditioning that would help learners develop behaviour for continuous improvement. 


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