Theories In First Language Acquisition English Language Essay

By July 28, 2017 English Language

Since, the 2nd linguistic communication is an extra linguistic communication after we get the first linguistic communication, the L2 larning procedure can be influenced by the L1 acquisition procedure This essay will show the similarities and differences in L1 and L2 acquisition by discoursing assorted theories. Then, pull a decision based on the grounds provided and my ain experience.


First Language Acquisition

‘First Language Acquisition ‘ or besides known as the ‘Child Language Acquisition ‘ is a procedure whereby kids from babyhood through early school old ages get their first linguistic communications ( Lightbown & A ; Spada, 2006 ) . The term ‘First Language Acquisition ‘ or ‘FLA ‘ can be referred to the field that investigates the procedure by which kids develop to utilize words and sentences in their first linguistic communication, to pass on with other people ( Dictionary of Sociolinguistics, 2004 ) .

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Second Language Acquisition

Harmonizing to a Dictionary of Sociolinguistics ( 2004 ) , the term ‘Second Language Acquisition ‘ or ‘SLA ‘ can be referred to the academic subject that investigate the procedure of homo when larning 2nd linguistic communication ( L2 ) or extra linguistic communications other than the first linguistic communication. It involves the ability of people to utilize and develop ‘a complex system of sound, word, sentence construction, and significance of any non-native linguistic communication ‘ ( Encyclopedia of Cognitive Science, 2005 ) . It besides tries to understand factors such as environment, single differences, and societal facet which can be important factors underscoring the get of 2nd linguistic communication ( Ortega, 2009 ) .

Theories in First Language Acquisition

Assorted theories and attacks have been developed over the past old ages trying to analyze and analyse how do kids get their female parent lingua. This essay will place two chief theories that explain the acquisition procedure of the kid ‘s first linguistic communication: “ Behaviorism ” and “ Nativist or Innateness theory ” .


The behaviourism theory assumes how do kids talk that kids imitate what they hear, and so go on with positive support, kids learn linguistic communication through conditioning and wont formation ( Ellis, 2008 ) .

Harmonizing to B.F. Skinner and his co-workers ( Gass & A ; Larry, 2008 ) , larning or a alteration of behavior on the portion of the scholar, is brought approximately by a procedure known as ‘operant conditioning ‘ which is the consequence of perennial preparation. Operant means ‘voluntary behavior ‘ which is the consequence of scholar ‘s ain free-will and is non forced by any foreigner or thing ( Ortega, 2009 ) . The scholar will show the new behavior foremost as a response to a system of a wages or penalty, and eventually it will go an automatic response.

Behaviorists believe that larning a linguistic communication is no different from larning anything else. It becomes a wont by the stimulus-response-reinforcement-repetition procedure ( Cook, 2001 ) . The behaviorists besides claim that we learn by imitation and by association ( Lightbown & A ; Spada, 2006 ) . However, psycholinguists argue that imitation is non plenty because it is non merely the mechanical repeat but besides natural exposure that kids get linguistic communication ( Cook, 2001 ) .

Therefore, from the behaviorist attack, linguistic communication acquisition can be seen as a stimulus-response procedure. Children learn linguistic communication by immitation and analogy. The functions of imitation, repeat, support, and motive are indispensable in larning the linguistic communication. The First Language Acquisition is therefore the consequence of nature which based on practicing.

Nativist or Innateness theory

Unlike the behaviorist attack that does non take into consideration the kid ‘s ain cognitive procedures, the ‘Innateness Hypothesis ‘ proposed by linguist Noam Chomsky supports the thought that linguistic communication acquisition has a biological foundation ( Ortega, 2009 ) . He claims that kids learn their first linguistic communications through cognitive acquisition and acquires them by natural exposure ( Ortega, 2009 ) . That means both nature and raising influence the acquisition of linguistic communication in kids. He hypothesized that kids are born with a specific innate ability to detect for themselves the underlying regulations of a linguistic communication system on the footing of the samples of a natural linguistic communication they are exposed to ( Lightbown & A ; Spada, 2006 ) . This unconditioned gift was seen as a kind of templet, incorporating the rules that are cosmopolitan to all human existences. This is called Universal Grammar ( UG ) . As defined by Chomsky ( 1976, as cited by Cook, 2001 pp181-182 ) Universal Grammar is “ the system of rules, conditions, and regulations that are elements or belongingss of all human linguistic communications aˆ¦ the kernel of human linguistic communication ” . Harmonizing to Chomsky, there are rules, which allow or prevent a specific construction from happening in all human linguistic communications, and parametric quantities, which govern ways in which human linguistic communications differ, normally expressed as a limited pick between two options ( Cook, 2001 ) . These rules and parametric quantities are built in the human head. In other words, kids have an innate module that instructs them while larning of linguistic communication ( Mitchell and Myles, 2004: 33 ) . Chomsky besides introduced the ‘Language Acquisition Device ‘ or ‘LAD ‘ to explicate that there is some unconditioned mental capacity which help the kids to treat all the linguistic communications they hear since they were born ( Cook, 2001 ) .

Therefore, from the innatist attack, linguistic communication is an innate or in-born procedure. Children learn linguistic communication by application. It argued that linguistic communication acquisition is non a behaviour but a specific mental procedure and emphasized on the of import function of exposure to linguistic communication.

Theories in Second Language Acquisition


Behaviourism gave birth to a stimulus-response ( S-R ) theory which sees linguistic communication as a set of constructions and acquisition as a affair of wont formation ( Larsen-Freeman & A ; Long, 1991 ) . By disregarding any internal mechanisms, it takes into history the lingual environment and the stimulations it produces. It is suggested that acquisition is an discernible behavior which is automatically acquired by agencies of stimulation and response in the signifier of mechanical repeat. Therefore, to get a linguistic communication is to get automatic lingual wonts. Harmonizing to Johnson ( 2004 ) , “ [ B ] ehaviorism undermined the function of mental procedures and viewed acquisition as the ability to inductively detect forms of lawful behaviour from the illustrations provided to the scholar by his or her environment ” . Larsen-Freeman and Long ( 1991 ) see that S-R theoretical accounts offer “ small promises as accounts of SLA, except for possibly pronunciation and the rote-memorization of expression ” . This position of linguistic communication larning emerged research on incompatible analysis, particularly error analysis ( Ortega, 2009 ) . It has the chief focal point of which is the intervention of one ‘s first linguistic communication in the mark linguistic communication. Harmonizing to Ellis ( 2008 ) , an of import reaction to behaviorism was the lingua franca surveies, as the simple comparing between first and 2nd linguistic communication neither explained nor described the linguistic communication produced by L2 scholars. In this essay, lingua franca surveies will be excluded as the concern of the country has been chiefly with the acquisition of grammatical morphemes or specific linguistic communication constructions.

Universal grammar theory

Harmonizing to Cook ( 2001 ) , as a counterpoint to the environmental position, Chomsky ‘s followings try to understand SLA in the visible radiation of his cosmopolitan grammar ( UG ) theory, a human innate gift. Chomsky is interested in the nature of linguistic communication and sees linguistic communication as a mirror of the head ( Gass & A ; Selinker, 2008 ) . Although he is non concerned with SLA, his work has been act uponing surveies in this country. Harmonizing to his theory, it can be seen that every human being is biologically endowed with the Language Acquisition Device ( LAD ) , which is responsible for the initial province of linguistic communication development. The UG theory considers that the input from the environment is deficient to account for linguistic communication acquisition. In the same position, White ( 2003:22 ) says that “ [ I ] f it turns out that the L2 scholar acquires abstract belongingss that could non hold been induced from the input, this is strongly declarative that rules of UG constrain lingua franca grammars, analogue to the state of affairs of L1 acquisition ” . As Mitchel and Myles ( 2004:94 ) remind us, “ The cosmopolitan Grammar attack is merely interested in the scholar as a processor of a head that contains linguistic communication ” and non as a societal being.

Comprehension hypothesis

Influenced by Chomsky ‘s premises on linguistic communication as an innate module, Krashen developed an influential proposal to explicate SLA which he foremost named as proctor theoretical account with accent on the contrast between larning and acquisition, so called it the input hypothesis ( Krashen 1978, cited in Lightbown & A ; Spada, 2006 ) . It focuses on the information which provender acquisition, and more late, comprehension hypothesis stressing the mental procedure as responsible for acquisition ( Ellis, 2008 ) . Harmonizing to Krashen ( 2004:1 ) , “ [ T ] he Comprehension Hypothesis is closely related to other hypotheses. The Comprehension Hypothesis refers to subconscious acquisition, non witting larning. The consequence of supplying acquirers with comprehendible input is the outgrowth of grammatical construction in a predictable order. ” A strong affectional filter, such as high anxiousness, will forestall input from making those parts of the encephalon that promote linguistic communication acquisition ( Cook, 2001 ) . Harmonizing to Lightbown and Spada ( 2006 ) , Krashen ‘s theoretical account positions acquisition in a additive position which non merely establishes a cause and consequence relationship between input and acquisition but besides states that the grammatical construction is acquired in a predictable order. However, like in the other theories discussed so far, his theory does non travel beyond the acquisition of grammatical constructions. Krashen ‘s theoretical account lacks research grounds. As Cook ( 2001 ) points out “ it makes sense in its ain footings but is non verifiable ” .

Interaction theory

Other efforts to explicate SLA are the different versions of the interaction hypothesis defended by Hatch ( 1978 ) and by Long ( 1981, 1996 ) , who did non accept Krashen ‘s Input Hypothesis. Both Hatch and Long consider that input entirely is non sufficient to explicate SLA. Hatch disagrees that scholars foremost learn constructions and so utilize them in discourse. Hatch considers the contrary possibility. “ One learns how to make conversation, one learns how to interact verbally, and out of this interaction syntactic constructions are developed ( Harch, 1978 p. 404 ) ” . Based on an empirical survey, Long ( 1981 ) observed that in conversations between native and non-native talkers, there are more alterations in interaction than in the input provided by the native talkers. Long does non reject the positive function of modified input, but claims that alterations in interactions are systematically found in successful SLA. Long ( 1996 ) suggests that dialogue for significance, particularly negotiation work that triggers interactive accommodations by the NS or more competent middleman, facilitates acquisition because it connects input, internal scholar capacities, peculiarly selective attending, and end product in productiveways.

However, Larsen-Freeman and Long ( 1991 ) argue that the interactionist positions are more powerful than other theories “ because they invoke both innate and environmental factors to explicate linguistic communication acquisition ” .

Similarities and Differences between FLA and SLA

Age: a cardinal factor differentiate L1 from L2

Age can be regarded as another cardinal factor exposing the differences between L1 and L2 acquisition. Since, in the L1 acquisition, kids usually complete the procedure by four to six old ages old, while the age scope in geting the L2 can be varied wildly ( Ortega, 2009 ) . Furthermore, harmonizing to Ellis ( 2008 ) , age is recognized as being of import owing to the premise that older scholars tend to be less successful in respect to SLA than younger scholars, which may be owing to the fact that target-language norms do non present as much of a menace to younger scholars ‘ individualities.

However, there are two issues that many theoreticians have been reasoning about the relationship between age and L2 acquisition. That the age consequence can be approached from biological accounts or from non-biological accounts ( Ortega, 2009 ) . From the biological position ( Gass & A ; Selinker, 2008 ) , there is the Critical Period Hypothesis in L2 larning which is proposed by Penfield and Roberts ( 1959 ) and Lenneberg ( 1967 ) . On the other manus, from the non-biological position, some research workers have emphasized on the influence of ‘socio-educational and affective-motivational forces ‘ ( Ortega, 2009 ) .

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