Theories of first and second language acquisition
There are various theories that have been put forward to describe first and second language acquisition. This paper outlines similarities and difference between first and second language acquisition. Additionally key theoretical points on second language acquisition have been identified. Finally, an explanation of how I intend to use my understanding of language acquisition theory to inform my teaching practice will also be included. Similarities of First and Second Language Acquisition
Rod Elis (1984) examined the concept of developmental sequences. Studies have revealed that both first and second language learners follow a pattern of development, which is mainly followed despite exceptions. Elis outlined three developmental stages: the silent period, formulaic speech, and structural and semantic simplification.
Both L1 and L2 learners go through the silent stage. In this stage, children acquiring a first language will go through a period of listening to the language that they are being exposed to. This period is used to discover what language is. Second language learners usually opt to remain silent for a period when immediate production is not required of them.
The usefulness of the silent stage in second language acquisition is not agreed upon by researchers. Gibbons (1985 , as cited by Ellis, 1994)argues that this is a stage of incomprehension while Krashen (1982) argues that it builds competence in learners via listening.
The second stage identified is formulaic speech. It is defined as expressions which are learnt as “unanalyzable wholes and employed on particular occasions (Lyons, 1968, cited in Ellis, 1994).
According Krashen (1982), these expression can have the form of whole utterances learned as memorized chunks (e.g. I don’t know) and partially unanalyzed utterances with one or more slots (e.g. Where are the______?). The expressions can also consist of entire scripts such as
References: Ellis, R. (1994). The study of second language acquisition. China: Oxford University Press. Krashen, S. (1982). Theory versus practice in language training. In R. W. Blair (Ed.), Innovative approaches to language teaching (pp. 15-24). Rowley, MA: Newburry House Publishers. Lightbown, P. M., & Spada, N. (2006). How languages are learned (3rd ed.). Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press. McLaughlin, B. (1991). Theories of second-language learning. Great Britain: Arnold. Murray, D. E., & Christison, M. (2011a). What English language teachers need to know: Volume I: Understanding learning. New York, NY: Routledge.