Presentation on theme: "Introduction to Linguistics 9 L1 & L2 Acquisition"— Presentation transcript:
1 Introduction to Linguistics 9 L1 & L2 Acquisition Prof. Jo Lewkowicz
2 The miracle of language Bt age 4 English speaking children know 10,000+ words, equivalent of 10 new words per dayCompare this with number of words you have learned in English during past week/month/year
3 Chronology of L1 acquisition V. early stageApprox 6 mthsApprox 1 yearOne-word stageCrying, smiling, cooing (4 -7 mths use pitch & loudness to play with ‘cooing sounds’)Babbling (e.g. dadada; bababa, mama)Children begin to realise the concept that words refer to something. As nos. words increases, so babbling decreases.When this starts varies from one child to another. What may be 2 words in adult language may be 1 word for a child , e.g. ‘allgone’. Also children may overextend words (e.g. bunny to mean many things such as doll, bear, toy lion etc.) Children may also underuse a word, e.g. ‘tree’ referring to leafless tree in winter and not to one in spring, summer.
4 From sound to syntax Sounds/pro-nunciation Syntax Children learn some sounds more quickly than othersOften delete a sound or syllable (e.g. ‘tein’ for ‘train’; ‘dedo’ for ‘potato’), replace one sound for another (‘wabbit’ for ‘rabbit’)May perceive sound differences they cannot produceCombining words together starts at approx 2 years.At first, speech is telegraphic, i.e. only content words used, e.g. mummy gone; Ethan no go.Sequence of learning predictable (especially noticeable in terms of morphology)
5 Interest in L1 acquisition Interest in L1 acquisition has long historyExample is the experiment carried out by Mogul Emperor in India in 16th centuryFirst comprehensive theory of language acquisition is developed by Skinner in late 1950s
6 Behaviourist views of L1 acquisition Believed that language learned through imitation and habit formationBUTWhat we say is unique so children are unlikely to remember exactly what they have heardChildren are creative in their language use: say things they will never have heard beforeChildren overgeneralize rules, e.g. In English add ‘ed’ ending to past tense of irregular verbsEvidence that children also from an early stage accommodate to their speakersChildren hear vast quantities of language – too much to remember everything
7 Mentalist approachAll humans are hard-wired to learn to speak: defining factor for humanity.If this is so, how to we ‘classify’ those persons born without the power of acquiring spoken language?Children cannot simply learn from what they hear as this is often fragmentary, ungrammatical and imprecise. YETParents do accommodate their speech when taking to infants: speak more slowly, more clearly and often in complete sentencesChildren have huge amounts of practiceParents do direct infants attention to aspects of languageInfants early own can discover the limits of their communicative competence, which may lead to further L1 acquisition
8 Roger Brown’s contribution to L1 acquisition theory Studies 3 unrelated children for a period of time.Found that there was a consistent pattern in what the children learnedFound that they learned grammar in the same order but at a different rateFound that frequency with which the children encountered morphemes did not relate to the order in which they learned themBut, children will not learn constructions they never hear.
9 Halliday’s contribution to L1 acquisition Child starts by developing a ‘proto-language’: one-to-one correspondence between utterance & meaningAt this stage there is no grammar & no words (as we know them)Sounds uttered are functioning as signs – drawing caregivers attentionWhen words first appear a single word used to mean many things, i.e. overgeneralization: dog may mean: I like the dog, go away dog, I want a dog, etc.
10 Functionalist views of L1 acquisition First utterances are not imitations of adult languageChildren go through number of stages in acquiring their languageAcquire words then grammarWhen words first appear a single word used to mean many things, i.e. overgeneralization: dog may mean: I like the dog, go away dog, I want a dog, etcChildren learn to nominate a topic of conversation early on. They also know how to take turns in the interactive processLearn to talk about the hear and now before talking about things that are not presentSuggest that children do not learn words and then grammar to make meaning, but they learn to function using language to fulfil certain functions and as they do so, they acquire grammatical accuracy.Language acquisition stimulated by our drive to meet physical and emotional needs, including the need to socialise and become members of social groups.
11 Things young children can do with language Satisfy material needsGet others to do thingsInteract sociallyExpress their own uniquenessExplore the worldUse language imaginativelyLater 7th function = informative
12 What we know about L1 acquisitions All healthy babies are ‘predisposed’ to learning their L1 in the spoken form, i.e. there is some mechanism or LAD (language acquisition device) in the brain.Learning, however, will only take place if babies hear language around them (they will not learn words/structures they do not hear).As young children learn their L1 they practice endlessly what they learn.Although the rate at which young children acquire their L1 varies, they follow a fixed sequence of learning.The order in which certain features of language are learned does not depend on the frequency with which they hear adults using the structures, e.g. they will learn plural ‘s’ (books) or the ‘ing’ (going) form before third person singular ‘s’ (he speaks).
13 Example of acquisition order Present progressive (ing)2/3. in, onPlural (-s)Past irregularPossessive (-’s)Uncontractible copula (is, am, are)Articles (a, the)Past regular (-ed)Third person regular (-s)Third person irregular(source: Brown, Roger (1973). A First Language. CUP)
14 SLASecond language acquisition is the study of learning a 2nd, 3rd, 4th, etc. language having learned/started to learn an L1.This learning may take place in naturalistic or classroom settings.Researchers look at both the language used at various stages of learning (product) as well as the mental processes and environmental factors that influence that learning (process)Understanding SLA is important for knowing how to approach the teaching of 2nd/foreign languagesEmerged from contrastive analysis studies (of similarities and differences between languages)Built on prevailing theories of psychology as well as knowledge/ understanding of L1 acquisition
15 Some facts about SLAErrors are important for SLA (both for learning the L2 and for studying the process of L2 acquisition)SLA is systematic and, to a large extent, universalOrder in which grammatical features such as morphemes are acquired are largely fixed regardless in which order they are taught.Individual differences do determine how well SLL acquire a language.Many learners stop developing while still short of target-like competence
16 Language errorsInitially errors were seen as something bad – to be avoided at all cost: in line with behaviourist psychology.Now recognise that errors in SLL are a stage through which learners must go throughErrors that L2 learners make are universal:omission (compare with L1 acquisition)overgeneralization (compare with L1 acquisition)transfer errors (from L1)Negative transfer
17 Studies of errors Studies have shown that errors are: Systematic (not random)Cannot always be predicted by CALs move through certain stages characterized by particular types of errors, i.e. go through an interlanguage phaseLs attempt to construct their own rules of language based on existing knowledge which may result in errors such as overgeneralization of regular past tense form
18 Early stages of L2 acquisition Silent period (esp. for young learners): learners may be learning but they make no attempt to say anythingEarly speech characterized by:Formulaic chunks, e.g Can I have ...; What’s your name? I was born on 3rd June 1989Propositional simplification: Ls leave out words, e.g. Me no blue = I have no blue crayonLs then begin to acquire grammar and as they do so, they appear to follow a similar route in terms of accuracy and the errors they make
19 Example of the learning process StageDescriptionExample1Ls fail to mark the tense for past time‘eat’2Ls begin to produce irregular past tense form‘ate’3Ls overgeneralize regular past tense form‘eated’4Sometimes Ls produce hybrid forms‘ated’5Ls produce correct irregular past tense forms
20 Individual differences and SLA AgeLanguage aptitudeMotivationLearning skills, styles and strategiesPersonality type (introversion/ extroversion)Tolerance to errors
21 FossilizationMost learners do not reach full competence in every aspect of the target language, i.e. they do not go through all the stages of learning outlined in slide 11 for every aspect of the language.In such cases their ‘inertalnguage’ is said to have fossilized, i.e. their errors are consistent and systematically usedAt what point learners language development fossilizes depends on a number of factors including:Ls’ language aptitudeLs’ motivation to acquire language proficiencyLs’ needs
22 Critical age hypothesis At around puberty the two spheres of the brain begin to harden and the left hemisphere takes on the responsibility for language.Prior to this, the brain has a great deal of plasticity which seems to facilitate language learning, at least in terms of pronunciation.After reaching this critical age, Ls appear to have greater difficulty in acquiring a 2nd languageResearch has suggested that there may not be a cut-off point for language – rather a different critical period for pronunciation and for syntaxFew adults after reaching the critical period learn to pronounce a 2nd language without a trace of an accent.
23 What is the optimal age for SLL? Because of the critical period hypothesis it is often believed that young children are more efficient language learners than adolescents or adults.This is true in terms of acquiring a native-like accent, but not so in terms of the rate at which they learn vocabulary or structures of the new language.
24 Age differences in SLA Younger advantage Older advantage Brain plasticityNot analyticalFewer inhibitions (usually)Weaker group identitySimplified input more likelyLearning capacityAnalytic abilityPragmatic skillsGreater knowledge of L1Real-world knowledge
25 When does SLA takes place? Like babies learning their L1, SLL need to have opportunities to hear and practice the language they are learning.The following may facilitate SLL:modified input - foreigner talk / comprehensible inputinteraction in which negotiation of meaning takes placescaffolding: the process by which Ls utilise discourse to help them construct structures that are outside their competenceopportunities for comprehensible output
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