First Language Acquisition: Method, Description and Explanation

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Analogy also cannot explain language acquisition. Analogy involves the formation of sentences or phrases by using other sentences as samples. If a child hears the sentence, "I painted a red barn," he can say, by analogy, "I painted a blue barn. Acquisitions Phonology: A child's error in pronunciation is not random, but rule-governed.

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Typical phonological rules include: consonant cluster simplification spoon becomes poon , devoicing of final consonants dog becomes dok , voicing of initial consonants truck becomes druck , and consonant harmony doggy becomes goggy, or big becomes gig. Morphology: An overgeneralization of constructed rules is shown when children treat irregular verbs and nouns as regular.

Instead of went as the past tense of go, children use goed because the regular verbs add an -ed ending to form the past tense. Similarly, children use gooses as the plural of goose instead of geese, because regular nouns add an -s in the plural. Many factors have led to this hypothesis such as the ease and rapidity of language acquisition despite impoverished input as well as the uniformity of languages.

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All children will learn a language, and children will also learn more than one language if they are exposed to it. Children follow the same general stages when learning a language, although the linguistic input is widely varied. In addition, children do not produce sentences that could not be sentences in some human language. The principles of Universal Grammar underlie the specific grammars of all languages and determine the class of languages that can be acquired unconsciously without instruction.

First Language Acquisition: Method, Description and Explanation

It is the genetically determined faculty of the left hemisphere, and there is little doubt that the brain is specially equipped for acquisition of human language. During this critical period, language learning proceeds quickly and easily. After this period, the acquisition of grammar is difficult, and for some people, never fully achieved. Cases of children reared in social isolation have been used for testing the critical age hypothesis. None of the children who had little human contact were able to speak any language once reintroduced into society. Even the children who received linguistic input after being reintroduced to society were unable to fully develop language skills.

These cases of isolated children, and of deaf children, show that humans cannot fully acquire any language to which they are exposed unless they are within the critical age. Beyond this age, humans are unable to acquire much of syntax and inflectional morphology. At least for humans, this critical age does not pertain to all of language, but to specific parts of the grammar. Language immersion is a second language learning method in which language learners immerse themselves in the target second language.

For example, Spanish language learners might plan a Spanish immersion experience through an extended vacation to a Spanish-speaking country and communicate only with the Spanish language. Parents who want their children to learn French as a second language might enroll their children into a school with a language immersion program that teaches all subjects math, science, social studies in the French language.

The goal of language immersion is to create a linguistic environment that mimics the environment of first language acquisition. The idea behind language immersion is that, if all incoming auditory communication is in the target language, then students will eventually be compelled to use the target language for all outgoing spoken communication. The outcome of language immersion is language learning, not language acquisition.

The theory behind language learning programs with Rosetta Stone as the most well-known is that adults past the critical period can acquire language. Although some older children and adults can seemingly acquire languages in addition to their first, most people must learn second languages. Such language learning programs fail to take into account that people learn second languages differently from the acquisition of first languages, by ignoring the differences between language acquisition and language learning.

While all children before the critical period can innately acquire their first languages, most adults past the critical period must learn second languages through explicit education and instruction.


  • [First language acquisition research and theories of language acquisition]..
  • Stephen Krashen's Theory of Second Language Acquisition.
  • Language acquisition.

In addition to the problems with the claim of second language acquisition, many language learning programs also mistakenly claim to teach second languages through language immersion. For example, Rosetta Stone proclaims that its language learning programs help people learn second languages naturally by providing a "completely immersive environment" that recreates on the computer the childhood experience of "speaking instinctively by experiencing the world.

However, authentic language immersion cannot happen through a computer program. Instead, real language learning through language immersion can only occur when language learners physically and mentally immerse themselves in a linguistic environment with adequate linguistic input from the target language.

Computer software cannot replicate actual linguistic interactions. Although second language learners cannot acquire languages through language learning programs, such learners can learn second languages through such programs. For example, the Learn English Now! The Everywhere German Audio Course similarly provides explicit German language instruction including grammar and vocabulary lessons.

First Language Acquisition: Method, Description and Explanation | Linguistic Society of America

Language learning programs are legitimate means for learning second languages so long as the language instruction is explicit especially in the area of grammar education. However, once language learners learn second languages, language immersion programs like Rosetta Stone can help to review and reinforce language learning.

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For example, first-year Spanish students might use the Rosetta Stone Latin American Spanish Online Language Learning program over the summer to practice the Spanish language before second-year classes begin in the fall. First language acquisition differs from second language learning in that children acquire first languages innately and passively while adults learn second languages actively through explicit education and instruction.

Older children and adults past the critical period can successfully learn second languages through language immersion.

However, many language learning programs that promise language acquisition through immersion fail to take into account the differences between first language acquisition and second language learning as well as the necessary linguistic environment for authentic language immersion. Nonetheless, language immersion programs can reinforce the learning that language learners gained through explicit second language education and instruction. Bright Hub Education. Skip to content. First Language Acquisition Language acquisition is the process whereby children acquire their first languages.

Second Language Learning Language learning, in contrast to language acquisition, is the process whereby humans past the critical period learn second languages. Language Immersion Language immersion is a second language learning method in which language learners immerse themselves in the target second language.

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