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First Language Acquisition

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  1. L1 First Language Acquisition or How Do Children Learn to Speak? Bridget Green MFWI Extension Linguistics 2007; based on a handout by Maggie Dale

  2. First Language Acquisition input You are such a beautiful baby. • First stage • Babbling • 5-10 months • Consonant + vowel output Ba! At first, all babies babble in the same way no matter what language they hear!

  3. First Language Acquisition • Begins to demonstrate comprehension… “Silent Period” Kisses! (Does.) Where’s your belly? (Points.) Wanna go bye-bye? (Gets her coat.) Where’s the fish/kitty/birdie? (Points.) Get a book and I’ll read to you. (Does.) No, thankyou! (Stops doing what she’s doing.) Not silent! Baga bow ri? Dada mama baba! Now, babies babble only in sounds that they hear in their language!

  4. First Language Acquisition • Second stage • Begins production • 12-18 months • One word ‘sentences’ like “Mama”, “Dada”, “Baba” become real words… (14 months) Echoes: • “Say, More please.” Nya Nya! • “Night, night.” Nie Nie. • (On the ‘phone’) Doh? • (Seeing a hot fire) Ta!

  5. First Language Acquisition But what does it mean? • Third stage • 18 months - 2 years • Two word sentences Da mohk! Ah dun. Ah gahn. Wa pipuh? Ah me peez. Towtee. Who da peepoh? The milk! All done. All gone. Where’s the paper? Help me, please. It’s dirty. Who are those people?


  6. First Language Acquisition • Third stage • 18 months - 2 years • Two word sentences Da mohk! Ah dun. Ah gahn. Wa pipuh? Ah me peez. Towtee. Who da peepoh? Nouns and verbs are first!

  7. First Language Acquisition • Fourth stage • 2 years - 5 years • Full sentences Is it Papa van? Where’d Papa go? Papa goed away in Papa van. Wow! They make a lot of mistakes don’t they?

  8. First Language Acquisition • ALL children go through the SAME stages in ALL languages. • They all go through in the same order. Full sentences Two word sentences One word sentences (Demonstrates comprehension) Babbling in L1 sounds Babbling in all sounds the ‘silent’ period

  9. First Language Acquisition • ALL children go through the SAME stages in ALL languages. • They all go through in the same order. +s She runs. articles It’s a ball. ‘s Daddy’s hat. irregular past He went. plural -s books This is called the order of acquisition. Tcont Mommy running nouns/verbs How Languages are Learned Patsy Lightbown and Nina Spada, OUP, 1993

  10. First Language Acquisition • ALL children go through the SAME stages in ALL languages. BUT How do children learn a language?

  11. First Language Acquisition • IMITATE? Children imitate their mother (or their caregivers). Polly want a cracker? Polly want a cracker?

  12. First Language Acquisition • IMITATE? Children imitate their mother (or their caregivers). Papa went to the store. Papa went to the store.

  13. Really? Remember this? Is it Papa’s van? Where’d Papa go? Papa goed away in Papa’s van. Is that Papa’s van? Where did Papa go? Papa went away in his van? Parents never say ‘goed’. Why do children?

  14. First Language Acquisition Children have a ‘language acquisition device’? Children don’t just imitate their caregiver. …like a computer in their brain… They learn a language by trying to understand the rules, by experimenting.

  15. First Language Acquisition • What’s happening? Papa goed away? cry  cried love  loved go  goed This is called ‘over-generalization’. It means that you learn a rule and then you apply that rule every time.

  16. First Language Acquisition • What’s happening? Zeke: (Holding up a shirt) Is this my clo’? boy  boys path  paths clo  clothes ‘over-generalization’ The child tries new things to see if they work, to see if people understand.

  17. First Language Acquisition Bridget: Ceilan, you are beautiful! Ceilan: Why arm I? ‘over-generalization’ Eventually, the child learns to speak correctly. But correcting doesn’t work! he is  is he? they are  are they? you are  are I  are my  arm I

  18. First Language Acquisition • The most important thing is the message, not the grammar or pronunciation. Ceilan: I can’t pit it in. Bridget: Put it in. Ceilan: I can’t! correcting her pronunciation… continues with her message Correcting doesn’t work!

  19. First Language Acquisition • Children use learning strategies… The listener doesn’t understand. Ceilan: Izit dafai, Mama? Bridget: What’s a dafai? Ceilan: Da fai! Da fai! Da bug? A bug? Izat a fai? Bridget: Yes, that’s a fly. The child doesn’t give up; she ‘talks around’, she explains her message.

  20. First Language Acquisition So a child just needs input to learn a language? So… No! A child needs interaction and communication with humans!

  21. Second Language Acquisition How do adults learn a second language? L2

  22. Second Language Acquisition Is L1 the same as L2? No! Yes! Yes and no!

  23. Second Language Acquisition Is L1 the same as L2? • Some things are the same • Adults need interaction and communication. • Adults learn slowly. • Adults make a lot of mistakes while they’re learning. • Adults also have an order of acquisition. Really?

  24. Second Language Acquisition • ALL adults go through almost the SAME stages in ALL languages. • They all go through in almost the same order. • ALL adults go through the SAME stages in ALL languages. • They all go through in the same order. longer sentences short sentences (Demonstrates comprehension) Babbling in L1 sounds Demonstrates comprehension Babbling in all sounds the silent period?

  25. Second Language Acquisition They all go through in (almost) the same order. +s She runs. articles It’s a ball. ‘s Daddy’s hat. irregular past He went. plural -s books It depends a little bit on your L1. This is called the order of acquisition. Tcont Mommy running nouns/verbs How Languages are Learned Patsy Lightbown and Nina Spada, OUP, 1993

  26. A child learning a first language (L1) or an adult learning a second language (L2)? L1 or L2? Can you guess who said it? L2 - adult • I was fighting with one of my friend. • Here are some flowers for your anniversity. • How much o'clock is it? • I don't have nothing to say. • I don't like that one - it's unpretty. • I readed it last night. • Mermaid is fish and girl. • Phew! I'm exhausting! • What he is doing in Africa? • You are not understand why they are doing that. L1 - child L1 - child L2 andL1! L1 - child L1 - child L1 - child L2 and L1! L1 - child L2 - adult

  27. Second Language Acquisition But children can learn a language better than adults do, right? Not really! Except pronunciation! How Languages are Learned Patsy Lightbown and Nina Spada, OUP, 1993

  28. Second Language Acquisition Adults can learn from correction… Adult: I can’t pit it in. Teacher: Put it in. Adult: Put it in. correcting her pronunciation… making the correction Correcting works!

  29. Second Language Acquisition • Adult’s advantages • No ‘babbling’ time • Can organize information (=study!) • Wants to learn from corrections • Children’s advantages • Surrounded by input • Not afraid of making mistakes • Always trying • ‘Play’ with language Adults who act ‘child-like’ learn the fastest! How Languages are Learned Patsy Lightbown and Nina Spada, OUP, 1993

  30. Second Language Acquisition Adults who act ‘child-like’ learn the fastest! This is where personality comes in… Learners have to make mistakes to learn. Learners who make mistakes learn from their mistakes, so they learn faster. Learners who are afraid to make mistakes can’t learn from their mistakes, so they learn more slowly.

  31. Second Language Acquisition But what if that’s not ME? personality open talkative risky unembarrassed curious outgoing unafraid

  32. Second Language Acquisition personality I can do THAT! systematic hard-working very observant willing to learn a reader

  33. First Language AcquisitionSecond Language Acquisition What are the stages of first language acquisition? What are the stages of second language acquisition? What is the ‘order of acquisition’? Is it the same for L1 and L2? What is one difference? What is ‘over-generalization’? What advantages do adults have learning an L2? How important is personality?