First And Second Language Acquisition In Early Childhood PdfBy Molly L. In and pdf 07.05.2021 at 20:54 5 min read
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- How Young Children Learn Language
- Chapter 2. The Stages of Second Language Acquisition
- Bilingualism and Second Language Acquisition in Preschool Children
- Second Language Acquisition in Early Childhood
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How Young Children Learn Language
Language acquisition is the process by which humans acquire the capacity to perceive and comprehend language in other words, gain the ability to be aware of language and to understand it , as well as to produce and use words and sentences to communicate.
Language acquisition involves structures, rules and representation. The capacity to use language successfully requires one to acquire a range of tools including phonology , morphology , syntax , semantics , and an extensive vocabulary. Language can be vocalized as in speech, or manual as in sign.
Even though human language capacity is finite, one can say and understand an infinite number of sentences, which is based on a syntactic principle called recursion. Evidence suggests that every individual has three recursive mechanisms that allow sentences to go indeterminately. These three mechanisms are: relativization , complementation and coordination. There are two main guiding principles in first-language acquisition: speech perception always precedes speech production , and the gradually evolving system by which a child learns a language is built up one step at a time, beginning with the distinction between individual phonemes.
Linguists who are interested in child language acquisition have for many years questioned how language is acquired. Lidz et al. Language acquisition usually refers to first-language acquisition , which studies infants' acquisition of their native language , whether that be spoken language or signed language,  though it can also refer to bilingual first language acquisition BFLA , which refers to an infant's simultaneous acquisition of two native languages.
In addition to speech, reading and writing a language with an entirely different script compounds the complexities of true foreign language literacy. Language acquisition is one of the quintessential human traits.
Some early observation-based ideas about language acquisition were proposed by Plato , who felt that word-meaning mapping in some form was innate. Additionally, Sanskrit grammarians debated for over twelve centuries whether humans' ability to recognize the meaning of words was god-given possibly innate or passed down by previous generations and learned from already established conventions: a child learning the word for cow by listening to trusted speakers talking about cows.
Philosophers in ancient societies were interested in how humans acquired the ability to understand and produce language well before empirical methods for testing those theories were developed, but for the most part they seemed to regard language acquisition as a subset of man's ability to acquire knowledge and learn concepts. Empiricists, like Thomas Hobbes and John Locke , argued that knowledge and, for Locke, language emerge ultimately from abstracted sense impressions.
These arguments lean towards the "nurture" side of the argument: that language is acquired through sensory experience, which led to Rudolf Carnap 's Aufbau, an attempt to learn all knowledge from sense datum, using the notion of "remembered as similar" to bind them into clusters, which would eventually map into language.
Proponents of behaviorism argued that language may be learned through a form of operant conditioning. Skinner 's Verbal Behavior , he suggested that the successful use of a sign, such as a word or lexical unit , given a certain stimulus, reinforces its "momentary" or contextual probability.
Since operant conditioning is contingent on reinforcement by rewards, a child would learn that a specific combination of sounds stands for a specific thing through repeated successful associations made between the two. A "successful" use of a sign would be one in which the child is understood for example, a child saying "up" when he or she wants to be picked up and rewarded with the desired response from another person, thereby reinforcing the child's understanding of the meaning of that word and making it more likely that he or she will use that word in a similar situation in the future.
Some empiricist theories of language acquisition include the statistical learning theory. Charles F. Hockett of language acquisition, relational frame theory , functionalist linguistics , social interactionist theory , and usage-based language acquisition.
Skinner's behaviorist idea was strongly attacked by Noam Chomsky in a review article in , calling it "largely mythology" and a "serious delusion. Instead, children typically follow a pattern of using an irregular form of a word correctly, making errors later on, and eventually returning to the proper use of the word.
For example, a child may correctly learn the word "gave" past tense of "give" , and later on use the word "gived". Eventually, the child will typically go back to using the correct word, "gave". Chomsky claimed the pattern is difficult to attribute to Skinner's idea of operant conditioning as the primary way that children acquire language.
Chomsky argued that if language were solely acquired through behavioral conditioning, children would not likely learn the proper use of a word and suddenly use the word incorrectly. Chomsky also rejected the term "learning", which Skinner used to claim that children "learn" language through operant conditioning. The capacity to acquire and use language is a key aspect that distinguishes humans from other beings.
Although it is difficult to pin down what aspects of language are uniquely human, there are a few design features that can be found in all known forms of human language, but that are missing from forms of animal communication. For example, many animals are able to communicate with each other by signaling to the things around them, but this kind of communication lacks the arbitrariness of human vernaculars in that there is nothing about the sound of the word "dog" that would hint at its meaning.
Other forms of animal communication may utilize arbitrary sounds, but are unable to combine those sounds in different ways to create completely novel messages that can then be automatically understood by another. Hockett called this design feature of human language "productivity". It is crucial to the understanding of human language acquisition that humans are not limited to a finite set of words, but, rather, must be able to understand and utilize a complex system that allows for an infinite number of possible messages.
So, while many forms of animal communication exist, they differ from human language in that they have a limited range of vocabulary tokens, and the vocabulary items are not combined syntactically to create phrases. Herbert S. Terrace conducted a study on a chimpanzee known as Nim Chimpsky in an attempt to teach him American Sign Language. This study was an attempt to further research done with a chimpanzee named Washoe , who was reportedly able to acquire American Sign Language.
However, upon further inspection, Terrace concluded that both experiments were failures. Researchers noticed that "signs that seemed spontaneous were, in fact, cued by teachers",  and not actually productive. When Terrace reviewed Project Washoe, he found similar results. He postulated that there is a fundamental difference between animals and humans in their motivation to learn language; animals, such as in Nim's case, are motivated only by physical reward, while humans learn language in order to "create a new type of communication".
In another language acquisition study, Jean-Marc-Gaspard Itard attempted to teach Victor of Aveyron , a feral child, how to speak. Victor was able to learn a few words, but ultimately never fully acquired language. She had been entirely isolated for the first thirteen years of her life by her father. Caretakers and researchers attempted to measure her ability to learn a language. She was able to acquire a large vocabulary, but never acquired grammatical knowledge. Researchers concluded that the theory of a critical period was true; Genie was too old to learn how to speak productively, although she was still able to comprehend language.
A major debate in understanding language acquisition is how these capacities are picked up by infants from the linguistic input. Nativists such as Chomsky have focused on the hugely complex nature of human grammars, the finiteness and ambiguity of the input that children receive, and the relatively limited cognitive abilities of an infant.
From these characteristics, they conclude that the process of language acquisition in infants must be tightly constrained and guided by the biologically given characteristics of the human brain. Otherwise, they argue, it is extremely difficult to explain how children, within the first five years of life, routinely master the complex, largely tacit grammatical rules of their native language. Other scholars, however, have resisted the possibility that infants' routine success at acquiring the grammar of their native language requires anything more than the forms of learning seen with other cognitive skills, including such mundane motor skills as learning to ride a bike.
In particular, there has been resistance to the possibility that human biology includes any form of specialization for language.
This conflict is often referred to as the " nature and nurture " debate. Of course, most scholars acknowledge that certain aspects of language acquisition must result from the specific ways in which the human brain is "wired" a "nature" component, which accounts for the failure of non-human species to acquire human languages and that certain others are shaped by the particular language environment in which a person is raised a "nurture" component, which accounts for the fact that humans raised in different societies acquire different languages.
The as-yet unresolved question is the extent to which the specific cognitive capacities in the "nature" component are also used outside of language. Emergentist theories, such as Brian MacWhinney's competition model , posit that language acquisition is a cognitive process that emerges from the interaction of biological pressures and the environment. According to these theories, neither nature nor nurture alone is sufficient to trigger language learning; both of these influences must work together in order to allow children to acquire a language.
The proponents of these theories argue that general cognitive processes subserve language acquisition and that the end result of these processes is language-specific phenomena, such as word learning and grammar acquisition.
The findings of many empirical studies support the predictions of these theories, suggesting that language acquisition is a more complex process than many have proposed. Although Chomsky's theory of a generative grammar has been enormously influential in the field of linguistics since the s, many criticisms of the basic assumptions of generative theory have been put forth by cognitive-functional linguists, who argue that language structure is created through language use.
Binary parameters are common to digital computers, but may not be applicable to neurological systems such as the human brain. Further, the generative theory has several constructs such as movement, empty categories, complex underlying structures, and strict binary branching that cannot possibly be acquired from any amount of linguistic input. It is unclear that human language is actually anything like the generative conception of it. Since language, as imagined by nativists, is unlearnably complex, [ citation needed ] subscribers to this theory argue that it must, therefore, be innate.
While all theories of language acquisition posit some degree of innateness, they vary in how much value they place on this innate capacity to acquire language. Empiricism places less value on the innate knowledge, arguing instead that the input, combined with both general and language-specific learning capacities, is sufficient for acquisition. Since , linguists studying children, such as Melissa Bowerman and Asifa Majid ,  and psychologists following Jean Piaget , like Elizabeth Bates  and Jean Mandler, came to suspect that there may indeed be many learning processes involved in the acquisition process, and that ignoring the role of learning may have been a mistake.
In recent years, the debate surrounding the nativist position has centered on whether the inborn capabilities are language-specific or domain-general, such as those that enable the infant to visually make sense of the world in terms of objects and actions.
The anti-nativist view has many strands, but a frequent theme is that language emerges from usage in social contexts, using learning mechanisms that are a part of an innate general cognitive learning apparatus. This position has been championed by David M. Philosophers, such as Fiona Cowie  and Barbara Scholz with Geoffrey Pullum  have also argued against certain nativist claims in support of empiricism.
The new field of cognitive linguistics has emerged as a specific counter to Chomsky's Generative Grammar and to Nativism. Some language acquisition researchers, such as Elissa Newport , Richard Aslin, and Jenny Saffran , emphasize the possible roles of general learning mechanisms, especially statistical learning, in language acquisition.
The development of connectionist models that when implemented are able to successfully learn words and syntactical conventions  supports the predictions of statistical learning theories of language acquisition, as do empirical studies of children's detection of word boundaries. Statistical learning theory suggests that, when learning language, a learner would use the natural statistical properties of language to deduce its structure, including sound patterns, words, and the beginnings of grammar.
These findings suggest that early experience listening to language is critical to vocabulary acquisition. The statistical abilities are effective, but also limited by what qualifies as input, what is done with that input, and by the structure of the resulting output.
From the perspective of that debate, an important question is whether statistical learning can, by itself, serve as an alternative to nativist explanations for the grammatical constraints of human language. The central idea of these theories is that language development occurs through the incremental acquisition of meaningful chunks of elementary constituents , which can be words, phonemes, or syllables. Recently, this approach has been highly successful in simulating several phenomena in the acquisition of syntactic categories  and the acquisition of phonological knowledge.
Chunking theories of language acquisition constitute a group of theories related to statistical learning theories, in that they assume that the input from the environment plays an essential role; however, they postulate different learning mechanisms.
Researchers at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology have developed a computer model analyzing early toddler conversations to predict the structure of later conversations. They showed that toddlers develop their own individual rules for speaking, with 'slots' into which they put certain kinds of words.
A significant outcome of this research is that rules inferred from toddler speech were better predictors of subsequent speech than traditional grammars. This approach has several features that make it unique: the models are implemented as computer programs, which enables clear-cut and quantitative predictions to be made; they learn from naturalistic input—actual child-directed utterances; they produce actual utterances, which can be compared with children's utterances; and they have simulated phenomena in several languages, including English, Spanish, and German.
Based upon the principles of Skinnerian behaviorism, RFT posits that children acquire language purely through interacting with the environment. RFT theorists introduced the concept of functional contextualism in language learning, which emphasizes the importance of predicting and influencing psychological events, such as thoughts, feelings, and behaviors, by focusing on manipulable variables in their own context.
RFT distinguishes itself from Skinner's work by identifying and defining a particular type of operant conditioning known as derived relational responding, a learning process that, to date, appears to occur only in humans possessing a capacity for language.
Empirical studies supporting the predictions of RFT suggest that children learn language through a system of inherent reinforcements, challenging the view that language acquisition is based upon innate, language-specific cognitive capacities. Social interactionist theory is an explanation of language development emphasizing the role of social interaction between the developing child and linguistically knowledgeable adults.
It is based largely on the socio-cultural theories of Soviet psychologist Lev Vygotsky , and was made prominent in the Western world by Jerome Bruner. Unlike other approaches, it emphasizes the role of feedback and reinforcement in language acquisition. Specifically, it asserts that much of a child's linguistic growth stems from modeling of and interaction with parents and other adults, who very frequently provide instructive correction.
Chapter 2. The Stages of Second Language Acquisition
Students acquiring a second language progress through five predictable stages. Effective ELL instruction Reflects students' stages of language acquisition. Helps students move through the language acquisition levels. Engages ELLs at all stages of language acquisition in higher-level thinking activities. Anyone who has been around children who are learning to talk knows that the process happens in stages—first understanding, then one-word utterances, then two-word phrases, and so on. How quickly students progress through the stages depends on many factors, including level of formal education, family background, and length of time spent in the country.
Bilingualism and Second Language Acquisition in Preschool Children
By Dr. Bruce D. In the early childhood classroom, silence is not golden. Spoken words are opportunities for learning that should take place throughout the day - especially during conversations between children and between teachers and children.
Language acquisition is the process by which humans acquire the capacity to perceive and comprehend language in other words, gain the ability to be aware of language and to understand it , as well as to produce and use words and sentences to communicate. Language acquisition involves structures, rules and representation. The capacity to use language successfully requires one to acquire a range of tools including phonology , morphology , syntax , semantics , and an extensive vocabulary. Language can be vocalized as in speech, or manual as in sign.
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Second Language Acquisition in Early Childhood
Verbal Processes in Children pp Cite as. The great burst of research activity on first language development over the past two decades has had a very marked, and positive, influence on research on bilingualism and second language development. First language research methodology has been adopted by investigators of bilingualism and second language acquisition, and empirical findings from the first language field have generated questions about the processes involved in bilingualism and second language acquisition. Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.
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