LECTURE 3
FIRST LANGUAGE
ACQUISITION
OBJECTIVES
• Know the language system a child of the age 5
acquire.
• List the issues that are related to 1L acquisition.
• Explain the theories that interpret 1L acquisition.
• List the requirements for L1 acquisition.
• Explain the role of Caretaker speech (motherese) ( baby talk) in L1 acquisition.
• Explain the stages of L1 acquisition.
• Explain how children develop morphological,
syntactic and semantic language systems.
“The capacity to learn language is deeply ingrained
in us as a species, just as the capacity to walk, to
grasp objects, to recognize faces. We don’t find any
serious difference in children growing up in congested
urban slums, in isolated mountain villages, or in
privileged suburban villas”
Dan Slobin, The Human Language Series 2 (1994)
FIRST LANGUAGE ACQUISITION
• Every language is complex.
• Before the age of 5, the child knows most of the
intricate system of grammar:
• Use the syntactic, phonological, morphological and
semantic rules of the language
• Join sentences
• Ask questions
• Use appropriate pronouns
• Negate sentences
• Form relative clauses
ISSUES IN FIRST LANGUAGE
ACQUISITION
• How do children acquire such a complex system so
quickly and effortlessly?
• Does a child decide to consciously pursue certain skills?
(e.g., walking)
• Do babies make a conscious decision to start learning a
language?
• We correct children’s errors sometimes. Does it help?
“Nobody don’t like me”
THEORIES OF LANGUAGE ACQUISITION
• Nature vs. Nurture
• Behaviorism (1950s)
Children learn language through imitation, reinforcement
and analogy
- Look at these examples
He go out.
A my pencil
What the boy hit?
Nobody don’t like me
THEORIES OF LANGUAGE ACQUISITION
• Innateness hypothesis
Children are equipped with an innate template for
language (Language Acquisition Device and
Universal Grammar)
Evidence:
• we end up knowing more about language than
what we hear around us.
• The same stages in all cultures and languages
BASIC REQUIREMENT
• Environment and interaction to bring this capacity
into operation- E.g. Genie
• The child must be physically capable(being able to
hear)
• Interaction.
All these requirements are related.
THE ACQUISITION SCHEDULE
• In spite of different backgrounds, different locations, and
different upbringings, most children follow the very same
milestones in acquiring language.
• The biological schedule is related to the maturation of
the infant’s brain to cope with the linguistic input
• Young children acquire the language by identifying the
regularities in what is heard and applying those
regularities in what they say.
CARETAKER SPEECH (MOTHERESE) –
BABY TALK
• A type of simplified speech adopts by someone
who spends time with the child characterized by:
• Frequent use of questions
• Simplified lexicon
• Phonological reduction
• Higher pitch- extra loudness
• Stressed intonation
• Simple sentences
• A lot of repetition
• example: Oh, goody! Now Daddy will push choo
choo!
CARETAKER SPEECH (MOTHERESE)
•
•
•
•
•
•
•
•
Assign interactive roles to young children
MOTHER: Look!
CHILD: (touches picture)
MOTHER: what are those?
CHILD: (vocalizes a babble string and smiles)
MOTHER: yes, there are rabbits
CHILD: Vocalizes and smiles
MOTHER: (laughs) yes, rabbit
L1 ACQUISITION
Stage
Typical Age
Description
cooing
3-5 months
Vowel-like sounds
babbling
6-10 months
Repetitive CV patterns
One-word stage
12-18 months
Single open-class words or
word stems
Two-word stage
18- 20 months
"mini-sentences" with
simple semantic relations
Telegraphic stage
24-30 months
sentence structures of lexical
words no functional or
grammatical morphemes
Later multiword
stage
30+ months
Grammatical or functional
structures emerge
COOING
• Few weeks: cooing and gurgling, playing with
sounds. Their abilities are constrained by
physiological limitations
• They seem to be discovering phonemes at this
point.
• Producing sequences of vowel-like sounds- high
vowels [i] and [u].
• 4 months- sounds similar to velar consonants [k] &
[g]
• 5 months: distinguish between [a] and [i] and the
syllables [ba] and [ga], so their perception skills are
good.
BABBLING
• Different vowels and consonants ba-ba-ba and gagaga
• 9-10 months- intonation patterns and combination of
ba-ba-ba-da-da
• Nasal sounds also appear ma-ma-ma
• 10-11months use of vocalization to express emotions
• Late stage- complex syllable combination (ma-dagaba)
• Even deaf children babble
• The most common cross-linguistic sounds and patterns
babbled the most, but later on they babble less
common sounds
THE WORD STAGE (HOLOPHRASTIC)
• Single terms are uttered for everyday objects ‘milk’,
‘cookie’, ‘cat’
• Produce utterance such as ‘Sara bed’ but not yet
capable of producing a phrase.
• Differ from adult language:
•
•
•
•
[da] dog
[sa] sock
[aj] light
[daw] down
• Convey a more complex message
TWO-WORD STAGE
• Vocabulary moves beyond 50 words
• By 2 years old, children produce utterances
‘baby chair’, ‘mommy eat’
• Interpretation depends on context
• Adults behave as if communication is taking
place.
TELEGRAPHIC STAGE
• By 2 years & a half, they produce multiple-word
speech.
• Developing sentence building capacity.
E.g. ‘this shoe all wet’, ‘cat drink milk’, ‘daddy
go bye-bye’
• Vocabulary continues to grow
• Better pronunciation
THE ACQUISITION PROCESS
• The child does not acquire the language by
imitating adults but really they are trying out
constructions and testing them.
• CHILD: my teacher holded the baby rabbit and we
patted them
• MOTHER: did you say your teacher held the baby
rabbit?
• CHILD: yes. she holded the baby rabbit and we
patted them
• MOTHER: Did you say she held them tightly?
• CHILD: no, she holded them loosely
DEVELOPING MORPHOLOGY
• By 2-and-a-half years old- use of some inflectional
morphemes to indicate the grammatical function
of nouns and verbs.
• The first inflection to appear is –ing after it comes
the –s for plural.
• Overgeneralization: the child applies –s to words
like ‘foots’ ‘mans’ and later ‘feets’ and ‘mens’
DEVELOPING MORPHOLOGY
• The use of possessive ‘s’ appears ‘mommy’s bag’
• Forms of verb to be appear ‘is’ and ‘are’
• The –ed for past tense appears and it is also
overgeneralized as in ‘goed’ or holded’
• Finally –s marker for 3rd person singular
• present tense appears with full verbs first
• then with auxiliaries (does-has)
DEVELOPING SYNTAX
• A child was asked to say the owl who eats candy
runs fast and she said The owl eat candy and he run
fast.
• The development of two syntactic structures- three
stages
• Forming questions
• Forming negatives
FORMING QUESTIONS
1st stage:
• Insert where and who to the beginning of an
expression with rising intonation
E.g. sit chair? Where horse go?
2nd stage:
• More complex expression
E.g. why you smiling? You want eat?
3rd stage:
• Inversion of subject and verb
E.g. will you help me? What did I do?
FORMING NEGATIVES
Stage 1:
• Putting not and no at the beginning
e.g. not teddy bear, no sit here
Stage 2:
• Don’t and can’t appear but still use no and not
before VERBS
e.g. he no bite you, I don’t want it
Stage 3:
• didn’t and won’t appear
e.g. I didn’t caught it, she won’t go
DEVELOPING SEMANTICS
• During the two-word stage children use their limited
vocabulary to refer to a large number of unrelated
objects.
• Overextension: overextend the meaning of a word
on the basis of similarities of shape, sound, and size.
e.g. use ball to refer to an apple, and egg, a grape
and a ball.
• This is followed by a gradual process of narrowing
DEVELOPING SEMANTICS
• Antonymous relations are acquired late
• The distinction between more/less, before/after
seem to be later acquired.
Lecture 4
Second Language
Acquisition
Objectives
• explain expected stages and patterns
of language development as related
to first and second language
acquisition (critical period
hypothesis– Proficiency levels).
• explain how first language
development affects development of
English (Transferability TheoryThreshold Hypothesis).
Age and Second Language Acquisition
To Think About:
Is it better to learn a second language
when one is young or when one is
older? Why?
Discuss your ideas with a partner.
Age and Second Language Acquisition
The Critical Period Hypothesis (Eric Lenneberg
(1967)
Lenneberg stated that:
L2 is best learned between age 2 and
puberty
Ability to learn language is negatively
affected by the completion of process of
lateralization
Age and Second Language Acquisition
• Critical Period Hypothesis
• Laterialization is when each side of the brain
develops its own specialized functions
• Young learners use the same part of the brain
for learning both languages
• Older learners use different parts of the brain
Age and Second Language Acquisition
• Lenneberg stated that
• Lateralization is completed by puberty
• Therefore, an L2 should be learned between
age 2 and puberty (according to Lenneberg)
• More recent research has indicated that
lateralization actually is completed by age 5
Age and Second Language Acquisition
Therefore, young learners (before age 5) are
actually native speakers of both languages
They learn both L1 and L2 the way a native
speaker does
J. Lessow-Hurley. (2005). The foundations of dual language instruction
Age and Second Language Acquisition
• Advantages to being a younger learner
• More likely to develop a native-like
accent
• Less to learn to be considered proficient
• More likely to receive comprehensible
input
Age and Second Language Acquisition
• Advantages to being an older learner
• Can consciously use strategies to aid learning
• Has knowledge from L1 to draw from
• Has greater control over input
Proficiency: What is it?
To Think About:
When is a person proficient in a second
language?
How do you know a person is proficient?
Discuss your ideas with a partner.
Proficiency
• Proficiency includes grammatical,
sociolinguistic, discourse and strategic
competence
• Age appropriate competence in each of
these areas needs to be developed to be
considered proficient in a second language
Proficiency

Grammatical Competence
•Mastery of language code
Lexicon (vocabulary)
Word formation rules
Sentence formation rules
Pronunciation rules
Spelling
Proficiency
Sociolinguistic Competence
•Mastery of appropriate language use
in different contexts
• How to speak to a friend
• How to speak to someone in authority
• How to speak socially vs. professionally
Proficiency
Discourse Competence
Mastery of how to combine meanings and forms
to create a text in different modes
Examples:
Telephone inquiry
Narrative text
Oral report
Proficiency
Strategic Competence
Mastery of verbal and non-verbal strategies to
compensate for breakdowns in communication
Examples:
How to ask for help
How to rephrase a statement
Proficiency: How long does it
take?
To Think About:
If you wanted to learn another language,
how long do you think it would take you to
speak and understand that language?
How long would it take you to read and
write?
Discuss your ideas with a partner.
Proficiency: How long does it
take?
BICS ( Basic Interpersonal Communication
Skills)
2 to 3 years
Ability to converse and understand every
day discussions
Proficiency: How long does it
take?
CALP (Cognitive Academic Language
Proficiency)
4 to 10 years
Ability to read, write, speak, and listen at
an academic level
Stages in Second
Language Acquisition
• How can you identify a learner’s language
acquisition level?
• Discuss with a partner how the language
acquisition level can be determined. In
other words, how do you know if a
learner is a beginner, an intermediate, or
advanced learner of the L2?
Stages in Second
Language Acquisition
• Instead of using beginner,
intermediate and advanced, a more
specific classification system can be
used.
• A learner can be at the
preproduction, early speech, speech
emergence or intermediate fluency
stage
Stages in Second
Language Acquisition
Preproduction/Comprehension Stage
Characteristics
• Silent period
• Can respond non-verbally
• Will be able to understand more than
they can produce
Stages in Second
Language Acquisition
• Preproduction/Comprehension Stage
• The teacher should NOT force the
learner to talk
• The teacher should ask the learner
to draw, point, act out, label
Stages in Second
Language Acquisition
• Early Speech Production
• Characteristics
-Can understand more than can produce
-Can produce one or two words at a time
-Will pick up phrases (He cutted.)
Stages in Second
Language Acquisition
• Early Speech Production
• The teacher should ask the learner
yes/no questions
• The teacher should ask the learner
choice questions (Is this a ___ or a ___?)
Stages in Second
Language Acquisition
• Speech Emergence
• Characteristics
-Speaks in phrases
-Makes lots of errors
-Interlanguage occurs (a mixture of
vocabulary and structures from both
languages)
Stages in Second
Language Acquisition
• Speech Emergence
• The teacher should ask the
learner questions such as What
is this? What does ___ do?
Stages in Second
Language Acquisition
• Intermediate Fluency
• Characteristics
-Appear orally fluent
-Errors are same errors native speakers make
-Struggle with content area reading and
writing.
Stages in Second
Language Acquisition
• Intermediate Fluency
• The teacher should modify higher level
questions. For example, instead of
asking a student to compare two items,
the teacher should ask the student how
two items are the same. Then the
teacher should ask how they are
different.
First Language Development
To Think About:
Do you think the child’s first language is a
hindrance or a help in terms of learning a
second language? Why?
Discuss your ideas with a partner.
Common Underlying
Proficiency/Transferability Theory
Look at the next slide which illustrates
a Dual Iceberg Representation of first
and second language development.
What does this illustration mean?
Common Underlying
Proficiency/Transferability Theory
Dual Iceberg Representation
surface features
L1
surface features
L2
common underlying
proficiency
Common Underlying
Proficiency/Transferability Theory
• Many skills and concepts are common
or interdependent across languages.
• A skill or concept learned in one
language transfers to another
language when the requisite
vocabulary is acquired
Common Underlying
Proficiency/Transferability Theory
• For example, a learner only learns to
read once. If a learner can read,
he/she can read in another language,
once the vocabulary is learned.
• What needs to be explicitly taught in
the other language are the features
that are different.
What Literacy Skills Transfer?
Directionality
Sequencing
Ability to distinguish shapes and sounds
Knowledge that written symbols correspond to sounds
and can be decoded in order and direction
What Literacy Skills Transfer?
Activation of semantic and syntactic knowledge
Knowledge of text structure
Learning to use cues to predict meaning
Awareness of the variety of purposes for reading and
writing
Confidence in oneself as a reader and writer
What Skills Do Not Transfer?
Critical and Cultural Literacy
(interpretation of text given a specific
cultural world view)
From: C. Roberts. (1994). Transferring literacy skills from L1 to L2: From theory to practice. In The Journal of
Educational Issues of Language Minority Students, v. p. 209-221
Threshold Hypothesis
• The threshold hypothesis states there is a
threshold level of ability that needs to be
reached in one language in order for a
learner to be successful in another
language
• The threshold hypothesis also states that
high levels of bilingualism have positive
cognitive effects
Threshold Hypothesis
• The better developed the L1, the better
developed the L2 can be.
• High level of proficiency in L1-high level of
proficiency in L2 is possible
• A low level of proficiency in L1-lower level
of proficiency in L2
What have you learned?
•With a partner, list three new
things you have learned today.
Assignment 1
1. Compare between first language learner and second language
learner in terms of the following characteristics:
-constructs language from prior conceptual knowledge
-is an active learner who tests and revises hypotheses
-requires interaction
-uses cognitive strategies (i.e., overgeneralization)
-understands more when input is modified (caretaker talk,
foreigner talk)
-develops language in predictable stages
- makes developmental errors
- experiences a silent period
-is familiar with one or more other cultures
- may have a problem with attitude/motivation
- is more likely to be inhibited or Anxious
Assignment 1
2. Select a topic that you will teach (for example, fairy tales,
plant life, animals, etc.). Then, think of how you would involve
a learner at each language proficiency level in the lesson. For
example, you might think of questions that you could ask
learners at each proficiency level. Or, you might think of an
activity in which learners at each proficiency level could
participate.
Lecture 5
Guidelines for Language
Classroom Instruction
1. Introduction
When a second language is taught a number of major
steps must be taken.
 First , elements of the language or its use, or skills such as
learning strategies, must be brought into the classroom and
presented or highlighted.
 Second , that which has been selected and present must be
learned :the teacher has to arrange matters and events to bring
this about
 Third, the teacher must provide knowledge of results ,that is,
correction or feedback, to the students.
2. Language Presentation
 2.1 Meta-Planning for Lesson Objectives-depends on
the objectives a teacher has in mind for lesson
 2.2 Modalities (Materials, AV)
 2.3 Rule Presentations and Explanations.
2. Language Presentation
Many teachers’ understanding of lesson planning is the traditional
sequence of “ present- practice- evaluate”
2.1 Meta-Planning for Lesson Objectives-depends on the objectives
a teacher has in mind for lesson “Using knowledge about planning.”
 Things to consider when planning:
1. Physical characters of the presentation( materials- audiovisual
equipment…)
2. Deductive- inductive procedures the learners will be engaging in in
order to acquire rules of the target language.
2.2 Modalities (Materials, AV)
 SL learning is a process of skill acquisition which
implies the importance of practice.( students do most
of the talking)
 ESL Vs. EFL ( which one needs more practice?)
 The major resource of materials is the textbook.
 Technical aids – non technical aids
2.3 Rules presentation and explanations
When to present explicit second language grammar rules
to student?
 Deductive- inductive grammar teaching.
 Steps of teaching G:
1.
2.
3.
4.
Problem-formation
Students opinion
Teacher rule formation
examples
3.Tasks
 Activity: specific goal and steps ( more control- general
term)
 Task: no specific steps ( less control- produce more
realistic use of SL)
3.1 Subsections of a Lesson:





Information and Motivation Phase
Input/control phase •
Focus /working Phase •
Transfer/application Phase •
Borderline Activity ( testing).
3.Tasks
 3.2 Task types and parameters
The smallest unit of classroom work which involves learners in
comprehending, manipulating, producing or interacting in the target
language. They might contain some form of data or input.
 3.2.1 Relevant Characteristics
4.Faccilitation
 4.1 Class Organization ( teacher centered- students
centered- materials- students groupings)
 Most appropriate ( pair- group work)
What are the benefits of student-centered class?
 4.2 Aspects of the Teacher – Fronted Class

4.2.1 Question Types ( display /close ended Qreferential/ open ended Q)

4.2.2 Wait-Time ( 3-5 seconds)
 5.Correction and Feedback
Needed for the confirmation of reception of comprehension of
the message.
Feedback is needed to inform the learners of the accuracy of
the language production.
 6.Conclusion.
In class activity
 Prepare a mini- lesson. Select a specific point of
language form or function, rule of conversation, or other
social use of English. Develop a sequence of activities
that you might use to present, develop, and evaluate
this point.
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First language Acquisition