Process Of Language Acquisition in Children

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Process Of Language Acquisition in Children B.Ed Notes

Language Acquisition: Here we present one more useful article for B.Ed, B.El.Ed, and D.El.Ed students. The content provided in this article is useful for students from all the universities/colleges like Jamia, DU, CRSU, MDU, IPU, etc.

In this article, we will discuss the process of acquiring the language in the children, first language, and second language.

Meaning

Language acquisition is the process by which humans acquire the capacity to perceive, produce, and use words to understand and communicate.

We learn languages without anyone’s help. In society, the speaking habit develops automatically, but we do not know when we actually start speaking a language. You will find no historical proof for the same.

We all know that the language is learned in the lap of the mother. It can also be said that a child develops language when he comes in contact with the environment outside his mother’s womb.

In short, learning happens when a child comes across a certain language that is spoken in that particular environment.

So language acquisition is the process whereby children require their first language. All humans have an innate capacity to acquire language. Children may acquire one or most first languages.

For example, children who grow up in Punjab will develop Punjabi as their first language and they may also acquire Hindi.

First and Second Language Acquisition

The term first language acquisition refers to children’s natural acquisition of the languages they hear from their environment. It is different from second language acquisition, which typically involves formal instructions.

First language acquisition is a rapid process. This is the phase where children can learn more than 60 new words every day.

In the span of just a few years, newborn infants (who neither speak nor understand any language) become young children. And they start to comment, question, and express their ideas in the language of their community.

This change does not occur all at once. First, newborns’ cries give way to coos and babble. Then, infants who coos and babble start to recognize signs or sounds when they hear their name.

Infants then became toddlers who say “bye-bye” and ‘all gone’ and start to label the people and objects in their environment according to them.

With time children’s immature sentences are replaced by longer and more adult-like sentences. As children learn to talk, their comprehension abilities also develop.

Process of Language Acquisition

Children develop their own strategies for learning whatever they find relevant to learn around them. They develop the same strategies to learn languages also. They are much more resourceful, resilient, and creative than we are often prepared to give them credit for.

We often believe that only ‘grammatical’ language is language, with lots of words and lots of syntactic sophistication. Language is much more than this; the child may prefer to be expressive through intonation, for example, the melody of speech without which no language makes sense.

Following is the process of acquiring the language

1. Discrimination Between Sounds:

All the newborn children hear the sounds coming from their environment and identify the sources of the sounds. They know the direction of the sound. Their abilities to hear and understand improve with their age. 

Infants have a remarkable ability to discriminate sounds. For instance, a child of one week can discriminate the voice of his mother from the others.

A three-month-old child knows or understands that the sound is coming from the moving lips of a person. When a child of six is asked where the ball is, he will give an answer.

This shows that the child’s language ability comes with him from his birth.

2. Beginning of Speech:

Although a child starts identifying the sound from his birth he starts speaking after a lot of time. This shows that the development of language in children takes place in a definite order.

It also shows that the language learning process is universal in all children. It signifies that all children start speaking at a definite age irrespective of language.

The process of speaking in children starts in the following manner:

Crying

At the time of birth, the child knows no language. Crying is the only medium of communication for the child. Whether he is hungry or thirsty, he conveys his message by crying.

Cooing

After a month of birth, the child starts Cooing in addition to crying. This continues till 5 or 6 years of age.

Most of the time, this cooing sound is a vowel sound, such as ‘u u u u u…’ When children are happy and satisfied, they utter this type of sound.

When they utter this sound, they need a response from the people around them.

This type of response contributes to the emotional development of a child because the child begins to consider his parents as his friend.

As this process continues, slowly he starts uttering some more sounds. His sounds acquire a tone.

Babbling

At the age of 6 to 10 years, a child starts babbling. He learns a few sounds to utter such as maa, mum, etc. He keeps developing his vocabulary.

At this stage maximum of his words are meaningless. At a later stage, he combines these sounds to make sentences.

First Word

At the age of 10 to 12 months of age, a child speaks the first meaningful word. He starts the first word ‘maa’ (mother).

A child at this stage has 10 to 12 words in his vocabulary.

The words spoken around the child are learned by him by this age. These are words generally spoken by people around him. He leams the name of the activities happening around him.

At this stage, a child can speak the sentences having one word only and his parents understand what he wants to say.

Second Language Learning

Second language acquisition or second-language learning is the process by which people learn a second language.

It refers to any language learned in addition to a person’s first language. Second-language acquisition is also the name of the scientific discipline devoted to studying the process.

This process is not limited to learn a second language only but it can also incorporate the learning of a third, fourth, or subsequent languages.

Factors Influencing Acquisition of Second Language

People may learn many languages, but there are some factors that influence the acquisition process. These factors are given below-

1. Motivation

Every learning starts with inner motivation. It means that the more you are motivated towards learning, the faster and better you learn. This motivation helps in learning languages also. But to be motivated you have to believe that you can learn the language and that you can learn it pretty quickly.

2. Regular Practice

As we have been listening to a quote since childhood “learning makes a man perfect”, and it is damn right. It is better to practice the language every day for a few minutes than to practice it once or twice a week. Regular practice is very much needed to learn anything new and it works for language acquisition as well.

3. Emotional Involvement

Learning anything without actually involving in it emotionally will not give good results. Our memory can retain much better information when it is associated with strong emotions.

4. Humble Approach

The quote “Slow and steady wins the race” says everything about the approach used. The approach, while learning something new, should be humble. This will enhance learning.

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