Language Acquisition

Language acquisition means to acquire the use of a language. We will define language as a system of sounds made to represent ideas. Language is the creation of words or sounds that stand as symbols of ideas.

When you learn your first language you are taught sounds or words by your parents or the people that care for you. You learn language by repetition. Hearing the words over and over until they are locked into your memory.

While you are learning a language your understanding of the sounds is not accurate and you will be prone to mispronounce words. We all know how delightful it is to hear children distort words. When you learn a second language you will be prone to the same kind of mistakes. You have to train you ears to hear what is spoken, not what you expect is being spoken. I can think of many songs I was taught as a child only to learn latter in life that I was distorting the words.

The challenge of language acquisition is to hear and pronounce words correctly and to remember the words.

The next aspect to acquire a language is to understand the way a language is written. Again symbols or letters are used to represent sounds. Rule are applied to give clues as to how to make the sounds. It is very possible to learn a language without being able to read it. It is most helpful if you can read the language. Reading provides another set of tools to help in your understanding. Written words in a sense are pictures. To teach you want an apple is you can use a picture of an apple. To teach you the word “who” there is no way to make a picture. This is where alphabets arranged in a set of rules to indicate how to pronounce the word help. If you are learning a second language you do not have to learn how to read the language if you spell the words out phonetically in your language. This makes a picture in your mind of how the word sounds.

The art of language acquisition is best learned by using three tools. The sound and the spelling are the most helpful first two. In the case of learning a second language making a clue to remind you of the sound is very helpful. For example to remember the Italian word for tomorrow, which is “domani” my clue was “no money.” It rhymed. To learn the Thai word for ceiling, which is “pay don” my clue was “don’t forget to pay don.” It can be anything that helps you relate to the sound or idea of the word.

Language acquisition of a second language is really learning substitute words in the new language. You already understand the rules of language from learning your first language. By learning new words of another language it is not difficult to make sentences to convey your ideas.

Grammar is important only to sound good. If you speak “my house” of “house my” you will be understood. Many English- speaking people get hung up an grammar. The first thing you will realize is that when you are speaking English to a person speaking English as a second language is the if you drop grammar it will be easier for you to be understood. Speaking simple is common in many foreign languages.

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