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By: Anastancio Ariel Macucua

A Comprehensive summary on First Language Acquisition/2016


1. How do children learn their first Language?
2. What is it that enables them to form meaningful sentences?

Language its a system of communication consisting of specialized sounds that seems to be

genetically programmed to develop in humans.

First Language Acquisition occurs when a child has been without a language and now he/she
acquires one.
Differences between Acquiring and Learning a language
Acquiring a language is picking it up or to develop abilities in a language by using it in a natural
communicative situation. It is a subconscious process and not planned.

According to Krashen (1991) Learning is knowing the rules, or having a conscious knowledge about
the grammar.It is a conscious process and carefully planned.
Acquiring a language is more successful and long-lasting then learning it because in acquisition
people are not afraid of making mistakes, they are driven by a communicative need, theres more
time availability, theres a variety of input.

First language acquisition can be monolingual or bilingual

First language acquisition is monolingual when a child is exposed to only one language from birth
until 6 years.
First language acquisition is bilingual when a child is exposed to more than one languages and
acquires both languages before the age of 6.

The universal stages of development

Language acquisition is associated with cognitive, social and linguistic development.


Pre-linguistic stage (0 2 months, crying, 2 - 6 months cooing, 6 12 months babbling)

Holophrastic stage (Single word communication by 12 months)
Two-word stage (by 12 months)
Telegraphic stage (by 28 months) (Word inflections, and negatives)
Intermediate development stage (before 5 years) (Word inflections and negatives)
Adult stage (by 5 years) (Complex constructions)
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By: Anastancio Ariel Macucua

A Comprehensive summary on First Language Acquisition/2016

6 weeks
6 months
8 months
1 year
18 months
2 years
2 years and three months
5 years

Stage of Language Development

Intonation patterns
One-word utterances
Two-word utterances
Word inflections
Questions and negatives
Complex constructions

Theories of first language acquisition

1. Behaviourism
1. Inatism
1. Interactionism
1. Behaviourism
According to the behaviourists, all learning takes place through the process of stimulus-responsereinforcement (feedback).
They view language learning as a matter of imitation and habit formation. So, children imitate the
sounds and patterns they hear around them and receive positive reinforcement.

Children also receive linguistic input from speakers in the environment, and positive reinforcement
for their correct repetitions and imitations. As a result, habits are formed. (Skinner 1957).

The weakness of the behaviourist theory

a) The behaviourist fail to realize that the input children are exposed to is too little and impoverish for
them to acquire language successfully, (Chomsky)
b) The behaviourist theory does not account for childrens grammatical ability (Crystal)
c) They do not seem to realize that children are able to say things theyve never heard from anyone.
d) The language children are exposed to is full of confusing information (incomplete sentences, false
starts, slips of tongue

Chomsky claims that children are biologically programmed for language and that language develops
in the same way that other biological functions develop.
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By: Anastancio Ariel Macucua

A Comprehensive summary on First Language Acquisition/2016
He suggested that the child must begin the acquisition process with some innate linguistic
knowledge. Chomsky also argued that human beings have a LAD (a Language Acquisition Device) that
allows them to acquire any language they are exposed to. This device enables human beings to
produce an infinite number of sentences on the basis oftheir creativity. LAD is now referred to as
Universal Grammar (UG) which is believed to consist of a set of principles which are common to all

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