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SUMMATIVE TASK ITTT 120-HOUR COURSE S FIRST LANGUAGE VS SECOND LANGUAGE ACQUISITION ALTA GOOSEN Teflcertificatenet_290126 23th February 2020 In this essay, I will be comparing the acquisition of first language versus a second language. In particular, I am looking at the ‘Acquisition-Learning’ hypothesis of Stephen Krashen (2003) on the second language, in order to establish what is considered the ideal way for developing a second language. FIRST LANGUAGE Language acquisition is considered the most impressive aspect of human development (www.basic-concept.com), both from a psychological and cognitive perspective. Normal humans acquire the language they first encounter as children. They do not ‘learn’ this language, but ‘acquire’ it without being aware of it. This happens by them being exposed to the language on a daily basis from birth. This acquired language is the person’s first language or mother tongue. First language acquisition takes place in 6 stages: • Pre-talking stage (cooing) 0-6 months • Babbling stage 6-8 months • Holophrastic stage 9-18 months • Two-word stage 18-24 months • Telegraphic stage 24-30 months Language acquisition at the ages of 1-3 years occurs naturally. The child is not aware of the process, but can produce language for communication. This is comparable to the way a child starts walking (Freeman and Freeman, 2004). They are not ‘taught’ to walk, but the process evolves naturally. This is in contrast to the ability to read. If a child is not taught to read (learned skill), the child will be unable to read. We think of people around the world who are able to talk and communicate, but are unable to read, because they acquired the language, but never learned to read. For children, acquiring a language is an effortless achievement that occurs: ’ Without explicit teaching, on the basis of positive evidence (what they hear), under varying circumstances, and in a limited amount of time, in identical ways across different languages’ (Guasti, 2004) What happens, when later in life, we want to speak a second, or perhaps a third, language? Do we ‘acquire’ or ‘learn’ the language? SECOND LANGUAGE Stephen Krashen has developed a theory of second language that forms the basis of the teaching methodology in ESL, EFL, bilingual classes, and mainstream classes with second language students. He has also written and spoken extensively to show how his theories and ideas about language acquisition translate into classroom practice. (Freeman and Freeman, 2001) Krashen’s theory of second language acquisition consists of 5 interrelated hypothesis. Although all five hypothesis on this subject are very interesting, for the purpose of this essay, I am concentrating on the first: THE ACQUISITION-LEARNING HYPOTHESIS Krashen makes a distinction between two ways of developing a second language. (Freeman and Freeman: 2011). The first way, he calls ‘Learning’. This is a conscious process involving rules and vocabulary. The students ‘learn’ the new language very much like any other subject at school i.e. they study lists of vocabulary or verb conjugations, and then practice this memorized information (knowledge) by doing numerous different exercises and drills. This knowledge can be tested through exercises like quizzes, word searches and crossword puzzles. Unfortunately, second language students may excel in these, and still be unable to communicate with native speakers, or understand a TV show or movie in the new language. According to Krashen (2003), this ‘learned’ knowledge is quickly forgotten if it is not used. What, then, does Krashen think, is a better and more successful way of developing a second language? Krashen calls his second way ‘Acquisition’ (Freeman and Freeman: 2004) In contrast to the first ‘learning’ way, he claims that acquisition of the language happens in a subconscious manner, very much as in acquiring the first language. When acquiring a second language, the students may not be aware that they are ‘learning’ vocabulary or sentence structures. He further claims that learning is usually restricted to the school context, but acquisition happens inside and outside of the school, through day-to-day living, and interaction with native speakers. In my view, this can only happen when living in the country where the second language is the native language. It becomes very difficult when trying to acquire a foreign language in your native country, where exposure to native speakers of the foreign language is limited, or non-existent. Let’s look at the traditional learning view and the current acquisition view, as described by (Freeman and Freeman, 2004) TRADITIONAL LEARNING VIEW The language is taught directly to enable the students to produce correct language forms, by breaking the language in component parts, and teaching each part. Students learn through drilling and exercising, with the teacher correcting errors to develop good language habits. CURRENT ACQUISITION VIEW The language input is made understandable through using various techniques. Teachers focus on meaning and not correctness. By making the language comprehensible, students can use it for different purposes. According to Krashen (2003) the acquisition of the second language requires meaningful input, with messages the students understand and are interested in. This means supplying communicative and comprehensible input, and allowing production when the student is ready. Benjamin McLaughlin (1995) argues that Krashen’s acquisition/learning hypothesis never adequately defines ‘acquisition, learning, conscious and subconscious’, which makes it difficult to determine whether subjects are ‘learning’ or ‘acquiring’ the language. For me, in conclusion, the ideal way of developing a second or foreign language lies between learning and acquiring. Both methods include positive techniques. In my view the Engage-Study-Activate (ESA) method, is exactly that. References Difference between a First Language & a Second Language. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.basic-concept.com/c/difference-between-first-language-second-language Freeman, D. E., & Freeman, Y. S. (2011). Between worlds: access to second language acquisition. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann. Freeman, D. E., & Freeman, Y. S. (2004). Essential linguistics: what you need to know to teach. Portsmouth: Heinemann. Guasti, M. T. (2004). Language acquisition: the growth of grammar. Cambridge, MA: MIT. Krashen, S. D. (2003). Explorations in Language Acquisition and Use: The Taipei Lectures. Heinemann. Krashen, S. D. (2003). Explorations in Language Acquisition and Use: The Taipei Lectures. Heinemann. McLaughlin, B. (1995). Theories of second-language learning. London: Arnold. Theories of the early stages of language acquisition (article). (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.khanacademy.org/test-prep/mcat/processing-the-environment/language/a/theories-of-the-early-stages-of-language-acquisition