language acquisition

(redirected from First language acquisition)
Also found in: Acronyms.

language acquisition,

the process of learning a native or a second language. The acquisition of native languages is studied primarily by developmental psychologists and psycholinguists. Although how children learn to speak is not perfectly understood, most explanations involve both the observation that children copy what they hear and the inference that human beings have a natural aptitude for understanding grammar. While children usually learn the sounds and vocabulary of their native language through imitation, grammar is seldom taught to them explicitly; that they nonetheless rapidly acquire the ability to speak grammatically supports the theory advanced by Noam ChomskyChomsky, Noam
, 1928–, educator and linguist, b. Philadelphia. Chomsky, who has taught at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology since 1955, developed a theory of transformational (sometimes called generative or transformational-generative) grammar that revolutionized
..... Click the link for more information.
 and other proponents of transformational grammar. According to this view, children are able to learn the "superficial" grammar of a particular language because all intelligible languages are founded on a "deep structure" of grammatical rules that are universal and that correspond to an innate capacity of the human brain. Stages in the acquisition of a native language can be measured by the increasing complexity and originality of a child's utterances. Children at first may overgeneralize grammatical rules and say, for example, goed (meaning went), a form they are unlikely to have heard, suggesting that they have intuited or deduced complex grammatical rules (here, how to conjugate regular verbs) and failed only to learn exceptions that cannot be predicted from a knowledge of the grammar alone. The acquisition of second or foreign languages is studied primarily by applied linguists. People learning a second language pass through some of the same stages, including overgeneralization, as do children learning their native language. However, people rarely become as fluent in a second language as in their native tongue. Some linguists see the earliest years of childhood as a critical period, after which the brain loses much of its facility for assimilating new languages. Most traditional methods for learning a second language involve some systematic approach to the analysis and comprehension of grammar as well as to the memorization of vocabulary. The cognitive approach, increasingly favored by experts in language acquisition, emphasizes extemporaneous conversation, immersion, and other techniques intended to simulate the environment in which most people acquire their native language as children.

Bibliography

See J. C. Richards, Error Analysis: Perspectives on Second Language Acquisition (1974); R. Andersen, ed., New Dimensions in Second Language Acquisition Research (1981); D. W. Carroll, Psychology of Language (1986); A. Radford, Syntactic Theory and the Acquisition of English Syntax (1990).

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia™ Copyright © 2013, Columbia University Press. Licensed from Columbia University Press. All rights reserved. www.cc.columbia.edu/cu/cup/
References in periodicals archive ?
In the 10 lectures, she discusses spatial semantics in languages and language learners, mechanisms of semantic category construction in first language acquisition, the crosslinguistic categorization of everyday events, grammatical morphemes, noun semantics and natural ontology in language acquisition, verb learning and argument structure, language typology and "thinking for speaking," learning about end-state entailment in German vs.
First language acquisition after childhood differs from second language acquisition: The case for American Sign Language.
The studies above focus on first language acquisition. There are few studies about this issue which are framed within a second language context.
Chapter 2 begins with an introduction to first language acquisition, covering a basic description of first language development and an overview of theoretical views of first language development.
Her fields of expertise are in Sociolinguistics (Language Contact) and Psycholinguistics (First Language Acquisition).
According to Brown (2007), in order to teach a language effectively, foreign language teachers need to know the relationship between language and cognition, writing systems, nonverbal communication, sociolinguistics, and first language acquisition. How foreign language teachers understand the components of language will influence their teaching practices.
A behavior analysis of controversial topics in first language acquisition: Reinforcements, corrections, modeling, input frequencies, and the three term contingency pattern.
As far as the first language acquisition is concerned the learners' access to the principles of universal grammar is undisputable.
Acquisition in general and first language acquisition in particular is a very complex and a multifaceted phenomenon.
Probing in to such linguistic issues it is essential to know what is second language or a first language acquisition? and also how a language shift can effect both the second and first language?
Voeikova (eds.): Development of Nominal Inflection in First Language Acquisition: A Cross-Linguistic Perspective.
Those children who start out hearing just one language but very soon, in the first year of life, are confronted with a second language, have both similarities and differences with BFLA and MFLA (Monolingual First Language Acquisition) or ESLA (Early Second Language Acquisition) in their language development (De Houwer 2009: 6).