language acquisition


Also found in: Dictionary, Thesaurus, Wikipedia.
Related to language acquisition: Language acquisition device

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 ?
At the same instant, the study reveals that females are less extrinsically motivated towards the second language acquisition, as they are less burdened economically in a Pakistani society.
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.
What matters for the present discussion is that the discovery of ordered sequences in first and second language acquisition is a significant contribution to the theory of language development.
According to Cenoz (2003: 71) "[...] third language acquisition refers to the acquisition of a non-native language by learners who have previously acquired or are acquiring two other languages.
Early language acquisition: Cracking the speech code.
Approaching language acquisition developmentally encourages learners to use their implicit knowledge to judge what is and is not grammatical.
Chapter 1 presents some defining characteristics of the concept of third language acquisition. In order to understand the development of third language acquisition, the author also considers in this chapter two related disciplines, i.e.
In this paper we discuss the relationship between language acquisition and the process of thinking within the symbolic worldview of bilingual children.
This book stresses ecological dyamism in language acquisition, with the editors regarding "the individual's cognitive processes as inextricably interwoven with their experiences in the physical and social world" (p.
The concerns of newly arrived immigrant students include the need for English language acquisition, the lack of social support networks and of social acceptance, racial labeling and categorization, acquiring new learning styles, post-traumatic stress syndrome, different cultural scripts, and the typical development issues that all students face.
The objective is to establish English fluency as quickly as possible, since language acquisition is easiest at young ages.

Full browser ?