Language Acquisition and Thought Lecture 8 Language Acquisition and Thought • Language acquisition is a complicated process, because it involves a wide range of social, psychological, cognitive, linguistic, physiological factors. Acquisition and FL Learning • Rod (1985) and Krashen (1981) regard acquisition as the spontaneous internalization of rules and formulas. • The term acquisition is often used to refer to first language acquisition and second language acquisition. • First language acquisition: mother tongue acquisition. Acquisition and FL Learning • Acquisition takes place in the speech community where one's first language or second language is spoken. It is often natural, without much focus on form. • The learning of English by speakers of other languages in the United States is an example of second language acquisition. Acquisition and FL Learning • Foreign language learning usually takes place in the speech community where one's first language is spoken. It is a conscious process through formal school-like settings and requires time for processing, with focus on linguistic form in addition to knowledge of the rules of language use. • Some linguists use the term learning and acquisition interchangeably to cover both language acquisition and learning. • Traditionally, language learning is a process of habit formation. However, the research into first language development by Halliday reveals that language learning is a social process. Halliday regards educational learning as an organized social process, in which the construction of meaning occur systematically. • To Huba & Freed, learning is interpersonal and is performed by individuals who are intrinsically tied to others as social beings, interacting as competitors or collaborators, constraining or supporting the learning process, and able to enhance learning through cooperation and sharing. The Cognitive Code Theory • This theory stresses the fact that the learner brings to the task of learning an innate mental capacity. S/he brings a perception of relationships and an unconscious formulation of the 'rules' resulting from the discovery of the structure and organization of new material and from the perception of its relationship to known material. The Association or Operant Conditioning Theory • This behavioristic approach regards learning as a continuous association between stimulus and response, followed immediately by confirmation of the learner's correct response by a teacher, a tape, a record, and so on, resulting in the formation of the habits needed for placing sounds and words in appropriate arrangements. Development of First Language Acquisition • From observed facts, we can see that a normal child may go through four stages in first language acquisition: the babbling stage, the one-word stage, the two-word stage, and the telegraph to infinity stage . The Babbling Stage • In the first few months, by about 6 to 7 months, infants begins to babble by repeating a consonant-vowel sequence, like babababa. • By 10 to 12 months, infants begin to use sentence-like intonational contours. The One-word Stage • According to Carroll (1999:266), children usually utter their first words at around 12 months of age. • After one year, the child has learned that sounds are related to meanings and begin to use the same string of sounds repeatedly to mean the same thing. The Two-word Stage • At the age of 2 or so, the child starts to put single words into sentences such as "Big house", "Baby cry", "Hit ball". • Most of the words are contents words, like nouns, verbs and adjectives. At the two-word stage there are no syntactic or morphological markers; that is, no inflections for number, or person, or tense, and so on. The Telegraph to Infinity Stage • The Telegraph to Infinity Stage refers to the time when child begins to produce sentences longer than two words. • This stage is characterized by the omission of the small function works such as to, the, can, is, and so on. Functional Interpretation • Halliday (1975) interprets the process of first language acquisition from a functional standpoint. This includes the mastery of a small number of elementary functions of language, and a range of choices in meaning within each function. The choices are very few at first, but they expand rapidly as the functional potential of the system is reinforced by success. • Early language development can be divided into three phases: Phase I, the child's initial functional-linguistic system; Phase II, the transition from this system to that of the adult language; Phase III, the learning of the adult language. Second Language Acquisition • Although second language can be acquired in a natural or tutored situation, different learners in different situations learn a second language in different ways. • ●Influence of the First Language • ●A Natural Sequence of Development • ●Irregular Learner Errors • ●Learner Difference • ●Learner Strategies • ●Formal Instruction • Besides, the early stages of L2 acquisition in are often characterized by a silent period, by the use of formulaic speech and by structural and semantic simplification. Internal and external factors • To Ellis (1994), successful second language acquisition involves three kinds of factors: • (1) external factors, including social factors, motivation, learner attitude, input and interaction; • (2) internal factors, including language transfer, cognitive capacity and linguistic universals; • (3) individual differences, including individual learner differences and learning strategies. Social factors • According to Ellis (1994: 197), the effect of social factors is mediated by a number of variables, which may determine the learning opportunities and affect the nature and the extent of the input to which they are exposed. Second Language Acquisition • Learning a second language is rather different from learning the first language. • The study of second language acquisition has been seen as contributing to more effective language teaching, and as a way of testing hypotheses about the nature of language. Second Language Acquisition • The research methodology of second language acquisition has historically utilized the linguistic analysis of learners' interlanguage, and the results of case studies and ethnographic research. • Although second language can be acquired in a natural or tutored situation, according to Ellis (1985: 4), different learners in different situations learn a second language in different ways. • Different theories of second language acquisition have appeared to find out its major features. Second Language Acquisition • One of the features of second language acquisition is that first language can exert influence. The process is called language transfer. • facilitate the process of L2 learning • interfere with the learning of the L2 • Contrastive Analysis was developed in the 1960s to predict the problems the L2 learner would encounter. Second Language Acquisition • The second feature is that all L2 learners, no matter what their L1 is, follow a natural, fixed order in learning the grammar of the L2. Second Language Acquisition • The third feature is that learner errors are not regular. They may make an error in some contexts but not in others. • According to Ellis (1985:10), this is due to two types of contextual variation. The first is the situational context. When the learner is required to communicate instantly, he will not have time to maximize his knowledge of the L2 and is likely to produce errors that would not occur in situations when they have time to plan their utterances carefully. The second is the linguistic context. This means that the learner errors may occur in certain types of structures but not in others. Second Language Acquisition • The fourth feature is that learner factors may influence the mastery of L2. Ellis (1985:10-12) shows that there are five general factors that contribute to individual learner differences: age, aptitude, cognitive style, motivation, and personality. Second Language Acquisition • The fifth feature of second language acquisition is that learner strategies are used: learning strategies, production strategies and communication strategies. • The sixth feature is the important role of formal instruction. Second Language Acquisition • Internal factors include language transfer, the learner's cognitive capacity, and linguistic universals. • Language transfer is the phenomenon that the learners apply their first language knowledge subconsciously in learning a second language Second Language Acquisition • The second internal factor is the learner's cognitive capacity. From the cognitive perspective, language acquisition depends on an innate, human-specific module that is distinct from general intelligence. • The third internal factor is linguistic universals. • Linguistic universals refer to those common features among different languages, and the abstract principles that include Universal Grammar and that constrain the form of the grammar of any specific language. Language and Thought • Traditionally, language is thought to be the dress of thought. Language and thought are mutually dependable to each other. • Some people equal language to thought. However, to Jackendoff (1994: 180), thought is a mental function completely separate from language, and it can go on in the absence of language. • Language provides a scaffolding that makes certain varieties of reasoning more complex than are available to nonlinguistic organisms. • Jackendoff (1994: 183-185) argues that thinking is largely independent of what language one happens to think in. • From the examples of Beethoven and Picasso, he shows that complex thought can also exist without linguistic expression. Thus, thought itself is a separate brain phenomenon, though language expresses thought. • Language helps us think. • The relation between language and thought is also presented in Sapir-Whorf hypothesis, which makes the claim that the structure of the language one habitually uses influences the manner in which one thinks and behaves. • Psycholinguistic analysis often relates psychological mechanisms of language use with the human brain. • The right hemisphere: visual-spatial information, perception of nonlinguistic sounds, holistic reasoning, visual and spatial skills, recognition of patterns, and recognition of musical melodies. • The left hemisphere: language and speech, analytic reasoning, temporal ordering, reading, writing, calculation, and associative thought. • End of Lecture • Thank you!!