First and Second Language

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Research Methodology

A comparison between first and second language acquisition theories

Primarily, I would like to mention some differences between the first and the second language acquisition based on Vivian Cook’s online paper. First, the tongue mother or first language is acquired during our childhood; when our ability to learn is unlimited. On the other hand, second language is acquired either when we are teenagers or adults. Then, we can say that our brains have changed along the years what makes a great difference in the acquisition of L1 an L2. Second, acquiring a L1 is a natural process. Children learn a language without thinking about grammar, syntax, nor structure patterns whereas adults or teenagers learn a second language on basis of grammar rules and syntax. Therefore, we can say that instruction is not needed during first language acquisition, but it is essential in second language acquisition. Third, first language speakers have developed an ability to know or recognize what is right and what is wrong in their language. However, this kind of intuition or ability is not at all developed by second language speakers. Finally, fossilization in L1 doesn’t exist, or at least, there isn’t any evidence of its existence. Nevertheless, fossilization can occur during the learning process of L2. Now that the differences between them have been developed, I can start talking about some theories regarding L1 and L2 acquisition. According to Skinner, the major exponent of behaviorism, we acquire a language through imitation. We imitate what we hear from other people around us. Then, our attempts of imitation receive reinforcement, and thus we form habits. However, I disagree with him. It is true that our first words are imitations of what our parents or family say to us; but we have our own brain, and we are able to develop more complex sentences without the necessity to imitate other people. Furthermore, behaviorism treats the second language as a...
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