First Language Acquisition
Most people around the world find that the language is difficult to acquire. In this essay, I will discuss either language is learned or acquired, the different theorists’ views of language acquisition (LA), and the role that the Critical Period Hypothesis (CPH) plays in language development.
Stages of Learning Acquisition
Most investigators around the world have agreed that there are different stages in LA. The first stage is called the Prelinguistic stage and it is in this stage that children practice language without having perfected it. basically, the children pretend to talk by babbling. In this stage, there are five substages.
The first substage is called ‘phonation’ stage, which occurs from birth through 2 months. It’s the process that happened by repeating the vibration by producing certain sounds. My nephew Ahmed such as he’s making sounds which mean babbling while he is playing and sticking his tongue.
The second substage is the ‘Goo’ stage in this stage the baby starts being to recognize the intonation of the first language (L1), understanding the emotions and the situation of the speaker. it occurs from 2 to 3 months. As Chomsky and Gervain Paris study pointed out her research that babies can differentiate between statements and questions, they born with this knowledge. For example, Ahmed when he ‘pretends’ taking and playing by babbling around five minutes, when I’m laughing and talking to him he smiles and babbling.
The third substage is the expansion stage and it’s occurred from 4 to 6 months. This means babies babbling in this stage come long and we can hear M sound while they are babbling because these wards are in the front of the mouth and easy to come off the mouth. For instance, Ahmed while he is ‘pretend’ talking and babbling with letters M, P, and D.
The fourth substage is the canonical stage and it occurs from 7 to 10 months. Canonical means babies babbling has been long, and they know how to pretend to get attention. Such as Ahmed when he feels bored or needs attention he starts to pretend that he is going to cry or using caught to get our attention.
The fifth substage is variegated which occurred from 11 to 12 months. This stage is the last stage before the child can say words. Variegated means the child will be able to learn the rhythm of the pattern of speech. In this stage, the babies will be talking in nonsense sentences. Ahmed such as when we speak to him he acts talking and I complete acting and keep talking with him. According to Chomsky’s theory, he believed that babies learn nature which means that they are born with it ‘knowledge’.
The second stage is indicating the “Linguistic” stage and this when children start to use language like adults would. There are three substages and the first substage is called the holophrastic stage occur from 12 to 17 month.
In the first sub-stage, the babies start to say 1 word connecting with an action such as ‘mama’ while they reference outside. They mean that they want to go to play outside. Mariam when she wants water she can’t spell my name correctly, so she said Lola instead of ‘Rouda or aunt’ then she mentioned the water.
The second sub-stage is the telegraphic stage which occurs from 18 to 24 months. In this stage, most babies will begin to produce two words with clear syntactic meaning. According to Skinner’s theory which based on say what I say ‘repeating’ by this stage the child will be able to produce at least fifty words according to light brown. For instance. my nephew Mariam when she wants water she will say Lola water. McGlothlin pointed out that language is all around them (McGlothlin, 1997). The children have regional speakers of the language speaking to him frequently.
The third substage is multiple words which means in this stage the child starts asking questions while they take, and they are able to talk in stories. This stage occurs from 20 to 27 months. For instance, Mariam when she comes home, she was excited to talk to me and told me what happens in the car between h, er, and her sister.
Further to LA being acquired in specific stages, it also has an ending date called the critical period of a hypothesis (CPH). This means there is a specific and limited time period for the LAD to work successfully. And its division into two critical periods on from birth to two years and the other on Puberty. For example, of CPH in 1800 in France, they found a wild child around 12 years ago in the forest. The medical professional in the cities called him an idiot. He refused to be washed or touched, ignored human contact, and often exploded in violent outbursts. Years of isolation had also led him to develop a remarkable form of selective hearing.
The boy might ignore the sound of a pistol fired behind his head but would perk up immediately at the cracking of a walnut, one of his favorite foods. By helping from Jean-Marc Gaspard Itard believed that it was possible to teach him the language. Itard worked with the boy, whom he named “Victor,” for several years.
He believes in love and kindness can help him to learn, and eventually, he got him to bathe, wear clothes, and even show signs of empathy. vector died at age 40 and he never said a complete sentence, he can understand but he can’t talk. As Chomsky said that there is a critical period that if the child didn’t learn how to speak in this period they will speak for the rest of their life, this is the same as a vector. (Andrews, 2015)
Second Language Acquisition Theories
SLA is a topic of heated debate among researchers. There are three stages first stage called Pre-production stage this stage is nonverbal period and it take 6 weeks or longer, the student in this stage are in their low comprehension, they are actively listening and they receive 500 words respective vocabulary, Also they collect information in two different way first way is spectating which mean in pairs or groups and the other way is rehashing means that they quietly repeating to themselves (Tabors, 2008). We can help the student in this stage by building a receptive vocabulary and use repetition of the English language.
The second stage is early production the student Sound Experimentation, their vocabulary increases to 1000 words, and they speak by using one or two responding (International, 2014). We can help early production student by using simple books with predictable text and provide listening activities.
The third stage is speech emergency students in this stage their vocabulary increases to 3000 words, and able to understand and read easy stories with pictures (International, 2014). We can help the student in speech emergency by matching vocabulary words to definitions, and complete graphic organizers with word banks.
The fourth stage is Intermediate fluency students in this stage have excellent comprehension and start using more complex sentences. (International, 2014) We can help them to improve by help them to synthesize what they have learned and focus on learning strategies. I’m categorizing myself in this stage.
The last stage is Advance fluency in this stage students from 4-10 years to achieve cognitive academic language proficiency in a second language they also are excellent in both vocabulary and grammar. There are different research and theory to explain SLA. The first theory is called behaviorism. According to a fellow behaviorist, like Skinner believe that the person’s action can control with punishment and reward if they do a good behavior they will have a reward as a stimulus, and they learned by practicing because skinner theory is nurture means they must be taught. For example, researchers led by Angela Friederici, she did an experiment on German children four months years old exposed to unfamiliar language ‘Italian’. The children heard two sentences in italic ‘the brother can sing’ and ‘the sister is singing’ then they test them using a tiny electrode placed on their scalp. After three minutes of training they listen to another Italian sentence but with grammatically incorrect ‘the brother is signing’ and the sister can sing’. On the first testing the babies showed the same response but after training the babies were able to differentiate the correct and the incorrect sentences. This an example of the Audio Lingual Method (ALM) (Lighbown & Spnds, 2006).
One more theory is called Innatism, As reported by Chomsky, these theorists believe that babies born, and they know everything on their mind. It’s all inside our brain. In other words, the brain has a Language Acquisition Device (LAD). Which mean it contains all the principle which are universal to all human languages. Such as universal grammar (UG). Also, the babies if they didn’t try in this period to learn a language they will not be able to speak. Language like the muscle if you didn’t use it you will lose it. This is the natural language because the learner doesn’t need to teach.
However, Krashen also an Innatist viewed SLA differently. He developed 5 theories the first theory is Acquisition Language Hypothesis is how the human ability to develop language ability. And there is two language system first is Unconscious which mean from life experiences and the second one is learning conscious from the curriculum (Oregon State University, 2013). Such as the knowledge that the child learns it from the school called conscious and the child may not forget it after a period of time, the reverse of the unconscious which means that they gain the knowledge from their experience in the life this information stays with them till the rest of their life.
The second theory is the monitor hypothesis which means the language spoken is from what’s they learned. The correction on the language occurs only if the learner has any time, care about the correctness, and know the correct rules. For example, if the learner hates the language that he is learning it because they force him to learn they will not care if they learn it correctly and the rules of the language. On the other hand, if the learner like the language that he learned, he will learn it faster and with its rules and correctly.
The third theory is the natural order hypothesis means learners acquire the features of the target language in a predictable sequence. The student needs to know the old concept then they will be able to apply the new concept. For example, the teacher engages their previous knowledge by asking them questions then guide them to the answer/ the new concept.
The fourth theory is comprehensible Input means that the learner can only learn if the teacher connects their previous knowledge with the new concept, by working with zone proximal development ‘ZPD’. Such as teacher teaching student how to solve the math problem, next problem the teacher and the student solve the math problem to together, the last step is asking them to solve the problem solving alone.
The last theory is the affective filter hypothesis is the barrier that prevents filter acquiring language. And its divide into internal and external effects. First internal affective means the learner what’s to learn s/he motivates and interest in the new language, if there is no pressure at the learner to learn a new language such as testing him/her. If a learner is a social person with other people from the same language s/he will take a short time to learn, and with low anxiety means a lower effective learner which means learner open to the second language.
Finally, cognitivist, also known as Developmental like Vygotsky and Piaget believes that children develop SLA through face to face interaction. And learning by practicing the language is very important as receiving it. LA results in children’s ability to learn from life experience. Vygotsky is internalized speech and speech develop from social interaction. When the teacher guides the student to learn through a process is called ZPD. Piaget believes that children learn language through their physical interaction with the environment.
It is my opinion I believed that the affective filter hypothesis is the best theory. If the learner needs to learn a second language s/he should have a lower effective filter.
(Lighbown & Spnds, 2006)
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McGlothlin, D. J. (1997, October 10). A Child’s First Steps in Language Learning. Retrieved from Iteslj:
Tabors, P. (2008). One child, two languages: A guide for early childhood educators of children learning English as a second language (2nd ed). . Baltimore: paul H. Brookers pub.
YUDHIJIT, B. (2015). A baby’s brain needs love to develop what happens in the first year is profound. National Geographic, 59-77.