Language Acquisition and Thought

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					Language Acquisition
and Thought



   Lecture 8
Language Acquisition
and Thought
   Language acquisition is a complicated
    process, because it involves a wide range of
    social, psychological, cognitive, linguistic,
    physiological factors. We shall discuss how
    language acquisition is achieved and the
    relationship between language and thought.
Acquisition and FL Learning
   Rod (1985) and Krashen (1981) regard acquisition
    as the spontaneous internalization of rules and
    formulas. The term acquisition is often used to
    refer to first language acquisition and second
    language acquisition. First language acquisition is
    also called mother tongue acquisition.
Acquisition and FL Learning
   Acquisition takes place in the speech community
    where one's first language or second language is
    spoken. It is often natural, without much focus on
    form. The learning of English by speakers of other
    languages in the United States is an example of
    second language acquisition.
Acquisition and FL Learning
   Foreign language learning usually takes place in
    the speech community where one's first language
    is spoken. It is a conscious process through formal
    school-like settings and requires time for
    processing, with focus on linguistic form in
    addition to knowledge of the rules of language use.
    For example, the learning of English in China.
   Some linguists use the term learning and acquisition interchangeably to
    cover both language acquisition and learning.
   Traditionally, language learning is a process of habit
    formation. However, the research into first language
    development by Halliday reveals that language learning is
    a social process. Halliday regards educational learning as
    an organized social process in which the construction of
    meaning occur systematically. To Huba & Freed, learning
    is interpersonal and is performed by individuals who are
    intrinsically tied to others as social beings, interacting as
    competitors or collaborators, constraining or supporting
    the learning process, and able to enhance learning through
    cooperation and sharing.
The Cognitive Code Theory
   This theory stresses the fact that the learner brings to the
    task of learning an innate mental capacity. S/he brings a
    perception of relationships and an unconscious formulation
    of the 'rules' resulting from the discovery of the structure
    and organization of new material and from the perception of
    its relationship to known material. The importance of the
    individual's mental organization of learned material seems
    to show that the nervous system stores images and
    memories which can then be evoked without a preceding
    stimulus.
The Association or Operant
Conditioning Theory
   This theory indicates that a tie can be established
    between a stimulus and a response. This
    behavioristic approach regards learning as a
    continuous association between stimulus and
    response, followed immediately by confirmation of
    the learner's correct response by a teacher, a tape, a
    record, and so on, resulting in the formation of the
    habits needed for placing sounds and words in
    appropriate arrangements.
Social factors
   To Ellis (1994: 191-529), successful second
    language acquisition involves three kinds of factors:
    (1) external factors, including social factors, input
    and interaction; (2) internal factors, including
    language transfer, cognitive accounts and linguistic
    universals; (3) individual differences, including
    individual learner differences and learning
    strategies.
Social factors
Social factors
   Social factors can influence the efficiency of second
    language acquisition. Learners differ greatly in the
    type of proficiency they acquire and the ultimate
    level of proficiency they reach. Although these
    differences can be accounted for by language
    aptitude, learning style and personality, they are
    socially determined.
Social factors
   According to Ellis (1994: 197), the effect of social
    factors is mediated by a number of variables, for
    example, learner attitudes. Social factors may
    determine the learning opportunities which
    individual learners experience, for example, the
    learner's socio-economic class and ethnic
    background may affect the nature and the extent of
    the input to which they are exposed.
First Language Acquisition
   Every normal child can become a competent speaker
    of his native language in the first five years of life.
    This may be shown by an analysis of the language
    actually produced by him.
   Although each normal child acquires his first
    language in pretty much the same way, the
    development of first language acquisition varies
    from child to child. From observable facts, we can
    see that a normal child may go through four stages
    in first language acquisition.
First Language Acquisition
   The Babbling Stage
   In the first few months, by about 6 to 7 months, infants
    begins to babble by repeating a consonant-vowel sequence,
    like babababa. Besides the stimulus-controlled cries and
    gurgles, the sounds produced in this period seem to include
    the sounds of human languages. By 10 to 12 months, infants
    begin to use sentence-like intonational contours. It is in this
    babbling stage that infants learn how to distinguish between
    the sounds of their language and the sounds which are not
    part of the language.
First Language Acquisition
   The one-word stage is also called the holophrastic stage. The
    child tends to use single words to express large chunks of
    meaning that would be conveyed in a phrase or sentence by a
    mature speaker. After one year, the child has learned that
    sounds are related to meanings and begin to use the same
    string of sounds repeatedly to mean the same thing.
   The child becomes able to use certain single words as labels
    for regular features of the immediate, concrete environment,
    such as toys, members of the family and so on.
First Language Acquisition
   At the end of the one-word stage, usually at the age
    of 2 or so, the child starts to put single words into
    sentences such as "Big house", "Baby cry", "Hit
    ball". Most of these sentences consist of two
    words, each word with its own single-pitch contour.
    Most of the words are contents words, like
    nouns, verbs and adjectives.
First Language Acquisition
   The Telegraph to Infinity Stage refers to the time
    when child begins to produce sentences longer than
    two words. This stage is characterized by the
    omission of the small function works such as to, the,
    can, is, and so on. Their sentences sound as if they
    were telegraphs. For example, "No sit here", "John
    build house". They also become more complex in
    terms of the number of meaning relations they
    express and the grammatical structures they use.
First Language Acquisition
   Functional Interpretation
    Based on an observation of a child named Nigel from 9
    months to 2 years old, Halliday (1975) interprets the process of
    first language acquisition from a functional standpoint.
    According to Halliday (1978:19), if there is anything which the
    child can be said to be acquiring, it is a range of meaning
    potential. This includes the mastery of a small number of
    elementary functions of language, and a range of choices in
    meaning within each function. The choices are very few at
    first, but they expand rapidly as the functional potential of the
    system is reinforced by success
Second Language Acquisition
   Learning a second language is rather different from learning
    the first language. The process of second language
    acquisition, like that of first language acquisition, is very
    complicated. There is not yet any single theory or framework
    that    can      adequately    explain   the    phenomenon.
    However, researchers have been trying to study it from
    different perspectives. The study of second language
    acquisition has been seen as contributing to more effective
    language teaching, and as a way of testing hypotheses about
    the nature of language.
Second Language Acquisition
   The research methodology of second language acquisition has
    historically utilized the linguistic analysis of learners'
    interlanguage, and the results of case studies and ethnographic
    research. Second language acquisition has its own features.
   Although second language can be acquired in a natural or
    tutored situation, according to Ellis (1985: 4), different
    learners in different situations learn a second language in
    different ways. Thus, different theories of second language
    acquisition have appeared to find out its major features.
Second Language Acquisition
   One of the features of second language acquisition is
    that first language can exert influence. The process is
    called language transfer. When the first language (L1)
    and second language (L2) are similar, the L1 can
    facilitate the process of L2 learning. However, when
    the L1 is different the L2, the learner's knowledge can
    interfere with the learning of the L2. Based on this
    assumption, a procedure called Contrastive Analysis
    was developed in the 1960s to predict the problems
    the L2 learner would encounter.
Second Language Acquisition
   The second feature is that all L2 learners, no matter
    what their L1 is, follow a natural, fixed order in
    learning the grammar of the L2. According to the L2 =
    L1 hypothesis, second language acquisition is very
    similar to first language acquisition. In their language
    learning, all learners use a common set of mechanisms
    of the human language faculty. Second language
    acquisition is a universal process which reflects the
    properties of the human mind.
Second Language Acquisition
   The third feature is that learner errors are not regular. They
    may make an error in some contexts but not in others. They
    do not simply memorize L2 rules and then reproduce them in
    their own utterances. According to Ellis (1985:10), this is due
    to two types of contextual variation. The first is the situational
    context. When the learner is required to communicate
    instantly, he will not have time to maximize his knowledge of
    the L2 and is likely to produce errors that would not occur in
    situations when they have time to plan their utterances
    carefully. The second is the linguistic context. This means that
    the learner errors may occur in certain types of structures but
    not in others.
Second Language Acquisition
    The fourth feature is that learner factors may
     influence the mastery of L2. Ellis (1985:10-12)
     shows that there are five general factors that
     contribute to individual learner differences:
     age, aptitude, cognitive style, motivation, and
     personality.
Second Language Acquisition
   The fifth feature of second language acquisition is
    that learner strategies are used: learning strategies,
    production strategies and communication strategies.
    With these strategies, the learner may process his L2
    input to develop his linguistic knowledge, use the L2
    knowledge efficiently, and compensate “for non-
    existent knowledge by improvising with existing L2
    knowledge in incorrect and inappropriate ways”.
Second Language Acquisition
   The sixth feature is the important role of formal
    instruction. Formal instruction usually takes place in
    the classroom and the L2 is taught systematically
    with syllabus and textbooks. Although L2 learning
    can take place in a natural setting, the importance of
    formal instruction in the acquisition of L2 linguistic
    competence can not be ignored, because formal
    instruction can facilitate the whole process of second
    language acquisition.
Second Language Acquisition
   Internal factors include language transfer, the
    learner's cognitive capacity, and linguistic universals.
    All L2 learners experience the process of acquiring a
    second language with their mother tongue knowledge.
    However, the learner's existing linguistic knowledge
    influences the course of second language
    development. Language transfer is the phenomenon
    that the learners apply their first language knowledge
    subconsciously in learning a second language
Second Language Acquisition
   The second internal factor is the learner's cognitive
    capacity. From the cognitive perspective, language
    acquisition depends on an innate, human-specific
    module that is distinct from general intelligence.
   The third internal factor is linguistic universals.
    Linguistic universals refer to those common features
    among different languages, and the abstract principles
    that include Universal Grammar and that constrain
    the form of the grammar of any specific language.
Language and Thought
   Traditionally, language is thought to be the dress of
    thought. A speaker reveals his intention in his own
    language. Language and thought are mutually
    dependable to each other.
   Some people equal language to thought. However, to
    Jackendoff (1994: 180), thought is a mental function
    completely separate from language, and it can go on
    in the absence of language.
   language helps us think.
   End of Lecture

   Thank you!!