1 THE CHILD´S ADqUISITION OF LANGUAGE.
Children learn most of their mother tongue before they are 6, before they can add 2 and 2, they can put sentences together, make interrogative and negative sentences, and use the basic rules of language. Children are not taught language as they are taught maths, but in a different way.
2 LINGUISTIC COMPETENCE
The child is euipped from birth with the necessary neural pre-requisites for language.
He doesn´t learn by storing all the possible sentences of language, which are infinite. He learns to construct and understand sentences which he hasn´t heard before. Therefore, he must learn rules. These rules are not taught consciously, parents are not usually aware of them. They also learn rules to use language in society (register, politeness, taboo expressions…).
BABBLING STAGE (first 6 months). They learn sounds including those of human language.
HOLOPHRASTIC STAGE (1 year). They learn to make one word sentences, to express predicates later developed.
2 Word STAGE (2 years) they join 2 words to make predicates
TELEGRAPHIC STAGE. There are not 3,4,5 word stages. The small function words are missing.
Gradually, they add function words, inflections, derivational morphemes, syntactic rules.
4 THEORIES OF CHILD LANGUAGE ADqUISITION
IMITATION: it is involved, but it doesn´t explain the creation of sentences not heard before.
POSITIVE REINFORCEMENT: It can speed learning but it is not the main aspect. It is not made on the form of the message, but its content.
CREATIVE CONSTRUCTION: It is the theory that can explain learning in the best way: there is a stage in which the child makes mistakes because he uses rules, not imitation: foots, goed, singed, childs…
Noah Chomsky explains this saying that the child is equipped with a “language adquisition device” (switches) in the left brain of the brain. The details of this are not yet well understood.
2 LEARNING AND ADqUISITION OF FOREIGN LANGUAGE
The learning progression does not take place in a linear way, by learning the different subsystems, but by a global approximation, from simple forms that are developed in the different stages of learning. The process involves a continuous process of completing, polishing and enriching the new communication system. So teaching shouldn´t be organized in closed units which must be perfectly learned before proceeding to the next, but in global approximations of improving the system of language of the student.
Besides, as it happens with the learning of the mother tongue, receptive activities, in which the student is not producing utterances, are part of the process of learning in a more or less long term.
Being the process of learning a foreign language a complex, personal and interior process, not merely a transmission of contents from the teacher to the student, the strategies of teaching must be, as much as possible, adapted for every student in speed, attention and method.
3 SECOND LANGUAGE ACUISTION THEORY
1 ACUISITION – LEARNING HYPOTHESIS
This theory differentiates between these to processes.
ACqUISITION: It is a not a conscious process, in which the learner is not aware of the rules he uses. It is the way the child apprehends his/her mother tongue. Errors are accepted as a normal part of the process.
LEARNING: It is a conscious process, the student has to be aware of the rules he is using to construct predicates.
2 NATURAL ORDER HYPOTHESIS
The student learns the foreign language in the same order the mother tongue is apprehended.
There are points against this:
1 we don´t have information about the order in which the language is apprehended in every language.
2 There are individual variations in the natural order.
3 The existence of a natural order in apprehending the mother tongue doesn´t implies that learning must be organized in that order.
3 MONITOR HYPOTHESIS
Middle course between the two hypothesis above. We put the student in contact with the foreign language so that he can acquire it. Before or after production, we correct mistakes, and explain the rules of grammar.
There are some points against:
The correction of errors and awareness of grammar rules can alter fluency.
The solution can be monitoring by means of grammar texts and writing, not in oral production. In oral production, the focus must be put on fluency.
4 INPUT HYPOTHESIS
We acquire language by understanding input that contains l + 1. l + 1 means that the input should be only a bit beyond the student´s current level of competence. We can cover the gap between the current and the next level by means of simplified speech, visual clues, key words, gestures, etc.
Direct error correction should be avoided. Fluency aroses naturally.
5 AFFECTIVE FILTER HYPOTHESIS
Emotional factors (anxiety, lack of motivation, stress…) create an affective filter that hampers in some extent the acquisition of the new input.
6 AGE DIFFERENCES IN LANGUAGE ACqUISITION
OLDER STUDENTS: Fast in early stages:
They have superior knowledge of the world to make input comprehensible.
Superior knowledge of l1 syntax.
Superior conversational management to make input comprehensible.
YOUNGER STUDENTS: Fast in the long run.
Lower affective filter.
4 ROLE OF THE FIRST LANGUAGE IN SECOND LANGUAGE ACqUISITION.
CONTRASTIVE ANALYSIS HYPOTHESIS: if a structure is different in l1 and l2, knowledge of the structure in l1 interferes in learning, and errors reflect the structure in l1. This is called INTERFERENCE or NEGATIVE TRANSFER: To who are you talking?*
ERROR ANALYSIS MOVEMENT: Not all the errors can be traced to their native languages. Constructivism believes that the make-up of learners is a central force in the learning of the second language. The term INTERFERENCE is replaced by INTERLINGUAL ERRORS. Errors are produced by analogy, as in the acquisition of the mother tongue: cans*.
INTERLANGUAGE: It is the linguistic system that every student constructs on his way to the mastery of a second language. It is an intermediate status between l1 and l2.
It incorporates contrastive and error analysis since it takes into account the differences between the mother tongue of the student (as contrastive analysis), the student´s performance (as error analysis movement), and the target language. It implies the contrastive analysis of language interlanguage with both native and target languages.
PHONOLOGY: Vowels, consonants, beginning and ending sounds, stress.
GRAMMAR: Articles, adjectives (specially superlatives), do, sentence order, subject omission.
VOCABULARY: Spelling, false friends.