similarities and differents

Topics: Second language acquisition, Language acquisition, Linguistics Pages: 6 (2446 words) Published: June 30, 2014
Similarities and differences between 1st and 2nd language acquisition Introduction

Various theories are put forward to describe first language (L1) acquisition and second language (L2) acquisition. In order to understand the nature of L1 and L2 language acquisition, various aspects were examined, compared, and contrasted. Interlanguages have some common characteristics with L1 acquisition, because both share similar developmental sequences. Some of the characteristics of L2 acquisition show similarities with L1 acquisition, whereas others show differences.  

Similarities between First and Second Language Acquisition

Researchers have carried out numerous studies to understand the nature of first and second language acquisition. These studies have revealed that both first and second language learners follow a pattern of development, which is mainly followed despite exceptions. Rod Ellis (1984) covers the idea of developmental sequences in detail and outlines three developmental stages: the silent period, formulaic speech, and structural and semantic simplification.  

a.     Developmental Sequences

1.     Silent Period:

Both first and second language learners pass through a similar initial stage, the silent period. Children acquiring their first language go through a period of listening to the language they are exposed to. During this period the child tries to discover what language is. In the case of second language acquisition, learners opt for a silent period when immediate production is not required from them. In general, however, many second language learners - especially classroom learners- are urged to speak. The fact that there is a silent period in both first and second language learners (when given the opportunity) is widely accepted. However, there is disagreement on what contribution the silent period has in second language acquisition. While Krashen (1982) argues that it builds competence in the learner via listening, Gibbons (1985, cited in Ellis, 1994) argues that it is a stage of incomprehension.  

2.      Speech Formulaic

Formulaic speech is defined as expressions which are learnt as unanalysable wholes and employed on particular occasions (Lyons, 1968, cited in Ellis, 1994). Krashen (1982) suggests that these expressions can have the form of routines (whole utterances learned as memorized chunks - e.g. I don't know.), patterns (partially unanalyzed utterances with one or more slots - e.g. Can I have a ____?), and Ellis (1994) suggests that these expressions can consist of entire scripts such as greetings.  

3.      Structural and Semantic Simplification

The first and second language learners apply structural and semantic simplifications to their language. Structural simplifications take the form of omitting grammatical functors (e.g. articles, auxiliary verbs) and semantic simplifications take the form of omitting content words (e. g. nouns, verbs). There are two suggested reasons why such simplifications occur. The first reason is that learners may not have yet acquired the necessary linguistic forms. The second reason is that they are unable to access linguistic forms during production.  

b.    Acquisition Order

Wells (1986b, in Ellis, 1994) proposes inter-learner variables affecting the order of acquisition as sex, intelligence, social background, rate of learning, and experience of linguistic interaction. Furthermore, McLaughlin (1987) claims that evidence from research shows that the learner's first language has an effect on acquisitional sequences which either slows their development or modifies it. He adds that, considerable individual variation in how learners acquire a second language, such as different learning, performance, and communication strategies, obscure the acquisitional sequences for certain constructions. Lightbown and Spada (2006) review studies which have proposed that the acquisition of question words (what, where, who, why, when, and how), show a great...
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