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Comparing First And Second Language Acquisition

1866 words - 7 pages

Essay«Comparing first and second language acquisition»«Comparing first and second language acquisition»Language acquisition is the subdiscipline of applied linguistics and the area of researches of psycholinguistic.Language acquisition is "picking up' a language, not learning it consciously but by being exposed to it in natural situations (e.g. as a child learns its first language). Often contrasted with language learning which involves a conscious knowledge of the language (e.g. learning grammatical rules).From 1950 to 1980 research brought forth four main hypotheses regarding first language acquisition: the behavioristic hypotheses propounded by Skinner in 1957 which traces language-learning process back to experience, imitation, and selecting conditioning; the nativistic hypotheses, arising from Chomsky's criticism of Skinner and according to language acquisition is considered to be a more or less autonomous process of maturation based on an inborn mechanism of language acquisition. This hypothesis places emphasis on the development of linguistic competence the cognition hypothesis, which takes into account the relationship between the developing cognitive and intellectual abilities; and the social constitution hypothesis, which gives priority to the importance of the child's socialization and interaction. In this hypothesis, the child's desire for experience and communication with others provides the principal impetus for the development of linguistic abilities.Language acquisition device (LAD) is specifically human mechanism postulated by N.Chomsky, in connection with the linguistic interpretation of rationalism, to explain the phenomenon that children - although the linguistic utterances of their environment represent only deficient and incomplete input - gain a command of the syntactic rules of their mother tongue in a relatively short time and can produce and understand an almost unlimited number of grammatical expressions. Every child is equipped with an innate schema for valid grammars (universals) and with a system of cognitive procedures for developing and checking hypotheses about the input. Thus, a child formulates hypotheses about the grammatical structure of the given sentences, makes predictions about them, and checks these predictions with new sentences. He/she eliminates those sentences that contradict the evidence and validates those that were not eliminated through the criterion of simplicity. This mechanism is engaged with the very first input. The child essentially forms a theory, comparable to that of a linguist who constructs a descriptively and explanatorily adequate theory of a language. This parallel, at the same time, justifies linguists in considering problems of language acquisition with linguistic methods of investigation. See Levelt's (1975) critique of the language acquisition device.Second language acquisition is the term used with varying meanings: the acquisition of a (first) foreign...

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