Language Theories Essay

5286 words - 22 pages

Theories Of First Language Acquisition English Language Essay
Imagine a blank template, a white sheet of paper, thats how human being starts off. From a crying baby in a cradle, to babbling, to simple single words, slowly progressing into two-words, then finally a complete sentence, ever wonder how one acquires the ability to produce the language? Linguists throughout the ages have tried to find out how does one ACQUIRE a language, is it a deep structure as claimed by Kimball? Or is it an innate ability, a build-in human capacity propagated by Chomsky?
Various theories have arose since language studies came to fore, and the ability to acquire language has interested various parties since ...view middle of the document...

Definition
First Language Acquisition is touted by linguist as the process of acquiring a language via exposure whilst young. First language is defined as the primary language -not necessarily mother tongue- which the speaker first acquires and use on a constant basis. According to Lennenberg (1967) the language that one picks up during the critical period will generally be the person's first language. The Canadian census agrees that the first language that one acquires during childhood is the first language.
A second language, however, can be a related language or a totally different one from the first language. Language acquisition is a cognitive process cognitive process (reasoning, perception, judgment and memory) of "acquiring" a language. It is usually done subconsciously, with the mind slowly structuring the template to mold the language into shape. Language learning however, means a person is trying to learn the language consciously through practice, training, or experience.
Amongst the most prominent theories of language acquisition that has been put forward by linguists is the:
Cognitive Development Theory
According to Jean Piaget's cognitive theory (1970s), language is a subordinate part of cognitive development. Language is mapped onto an individual's set of prior cognitive structures. The principles of language are no different from other cognitive principles. A person becomes capable of abstraction, of formal thinking which excels concrete experience and direct perception (Freeservers.com, 2012). Firstly, the child becomes aware of a concept, they acquire the words and patterns to convey the concept. Simple ideas are expressed earlier than more complex ideas even if they are grammatically more complicated. Piaget described four distinct stages of childhood cognitive development which include sensorimotor stage, pre-operational stage, concrete operational stage and formal operational stage and relates them to a person's ability to understand and assimilate new information .First language learners are thought to creatively use their skills of cognition in order to figure out the second language of their own. For adult learners, they have the ability to abstract, classify and generalize gives them an advantage to systematically solve problems. Adult language learners rely on their cognitive activities of general information processing because their Language Acquisition Device gradually becomes unavailable for them .
Piaget claims that the human mind has a template known as the schema: The representation in the mind of a set of perceptions, ideas and /or actions which go together .The schema helps individuals understand the various happenings around them, an understanding of oneself (self-schemata), other people (people schemata), events/situations (event schemata) and roles/occupations (role schemata).
According to psychologists, cognitive development starts at adaptation, followed by assimilation and accommodation close...

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