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Comparison/Contrast of L1 and L2 Acquisition.

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Comparison/Contrast of L1 and L2 Acquisition In order to be a better language teacher, one must understand how language is acquired. The environment in which an infant learns its first language is usually quite different than how a second or third language is acquired. In this paper we will try to discover the similarities and differences between first language (L1) and second language (L2) acquisition and by doing so, hopefully discover ways to help the student and teacher in improving their respective goals in language education. When comparing/contrasting L1 and L2 acquisition one of the first things we must consider is the age of the learner. By defining the terms 'child' and 'adult' in the broadest senses, Mangubhai (2004) suggests four comparisons, which we can represent in chart form as follows: Child L1 Adult L1 Child L2 Adult L2 The box containing Adult L1 is normally not possible because most all individuals learn their first language in childhood. Only in rare circumstances would you find someone learning L1 as an adult. Such cases may result from children being raised in extreme social isolation (Fromkin, 2003) or the complete loss of memory due a disease or an accident. We are thus left with three types of comparison: 1. First language acquisition in children vs second language acquisition in adults (Type A) 2. First and second language acquisition in children (Type B) 3. ...read more.


I say pronunciation or fluency here because it is controlled by neurological processes resulting in psychomotor responses, whereas other aspects of language acquisition - syntax, morphology and lexicon - are not (Scovel, 1988). Studies by Patkowski (1980) and Johnson and Newport (1989) on Type C group's second language learning ability showed that, of migrants arriving in the United States, the age of arrival was significant. Those who arrived before the age of puberty tended to out perform those who arrived after the age of puberty. This supports Lenneberg's theory. There are many other ways besides lateralization in which the CPH has been debated, in both strong and weak forms. The weak forms suggest that there is a gradual movement from what is possible to what is not possible in language acquisition, as opposed to the very specific ages theorized above. Not all researchers agree that there is a critical age and have backed their belief with examples, of adults who have managed to succeed in areas of SLA, that the CPH argues only children will be successful in. It is not the point of this paper to pursue this. In summary, we can say that the Critical Period Hypothesis suggests that the older the second language learner (SLL) is the more difficult it will be for s/he to acquire a new language, compared to that of a child. ...read more.


Young children are very self-centered. They seem themselves as the center of the world with everything and everyone revolving around them. This view changes as they mature. They begin to become more self-conscious and try to discover their own uniqueness. By the age of puberty, they are aware of who they are and very insecure about how others see them. Thus, applying this to L2 learning, we could assume the pubescent or young adult L2 learner would be uncomfortable with making mistakes. We could apply this to the older adult as well. A result of this insecurity or awareness of others is that the L2 development could be hindered. Very young children, on the other hand, do not have this problem. They see no wrong in anything they do and have no concerns as to how others may perceive them. Summary Observing a child learn a first language with ease and seeing how difficult it is for the average adult to learn a second language, as resulted in much of the research presented in this paper. Many parameters for the comparison/contrast of first and second language acquisition have been looked at. Arguments and hypothesis about each have been presented. Similarities and differences have been observed. Though many points are still debatable, many things have been learned to help us understand how language is acquired and how we, as teachers, might be able to help those acquiring a second language. ...read more.

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