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The Process of Language Acquisition with the Support of Existing Theories (Dissertation Sample)


the process of language acquisition with the support of existing theories


Language Acquisition
Student’s Name
Institutional Affiliation Language Acquisition
Language acquisition is defined as the process by which humans acquire the ability to perceive and comprehend language, including producing and using words and sentences to communicate (Fletcher et al, 2015). On the other hand, language testing is considered as a way of systematically measuring an individual's ability or knowledge of a language. The ability to acquire and use language is a critical aspect that distinguishes humans from other creatures. Despite the fact that it is difficult to pin down those aspects of language that are uniquely human, a few design features can be found in all known forms of human language, although they are missing from forms of animal communication(Towell et al, 2007). Language acquisition, as an important development in the childhood stage, occurs because of reinforcement, since children's parents or other caregivers reward them when their initially random sounds resemble speech. Language is a cognition that truly makes us human. While other species communicate with an innate ability to produce a limited number of meaningful vocalizations such as bonobos, or with partially learned systems such as bird songs, there is no other species known to date that can express infinite ideas/sentences ,with a limited set of symbols in form of speech sounds and words. According to studies, human brain plays a critical role in language acquisition. This ability is remarkable in itself. What makes it even more remarkable is that researchers are finding evidence for mastery of this complex skill in increasingly younger children (De et al, 2012). Infants as young as 12 months are reported to have sensitivity to the grammar needed to understand causative sentences. The following essay intends to explore these abilities in human beings in connection to the language acquisition theory, as well discussing the language testing developments in in the SLA.
Literature Review
Language Testing Developments In the field of SLA Research
Testing is considered as a way of systematically measuring an individual's ability or knowledge, which is packaged in regard to different test techniques and or pre-planned procedures aimed at effective measuring (Oller, 2007). Admittedly, testing also plays a critical role in language evaluation and learning in classroom settings. Evidently, several researchers on have focused on Language Testing (LT) while others focus on Second Language Acquisition (SLA) have extensively analyzed the effectiveness of the testing as well as its advancement within their respective fields.
During the 60s and 70s, language testing was mostly influenced by structural linguistics. The behavioral approaches that favored language analyses resulted into the discrete testing , which were formulated to assess the masterly of language of learners in different linguistic system areas such as vocabulary, grammatical knowledge, pronunciation, among others. However, Chomsky (2006) was among the first scholars to reject such approaches and suggested the application of a knowledge system that is based on rules.
In the early 70s, however, many scholars widely adopted communicative theories in among linguistics. Later on, communicative theories started focusing on "communicative proficiency instead of only mastery of structures" in teaching of a language. Since 1970s, tester has been concentrating on more integrative and pragmatic aspects for assessment including as dictations and close tests. For instance Unitary Competence Hypothesis, proposed by Oller (2007), reflected on the fact that hte performance  of the entire tests is mostly based don the  same underlying  abilities in a student. this refers to the capacity in the integration of lexical, grammatical, pragmatic and  contextual knowledge  in the process of test performance (Oller, 2007). However, as a reasonable model of how a language can be processed, this theory is no longer accepted.
Currently, there is a widespread adoption of principles on communicative language teaching (CLT). On the other hand, language tests are tending to include practical tasks, which are more predictive in the real-world settings. although there high possibility of encountering many point questions, alternative evidence and more diversity is observed in recent tests for assessing congruency in relation to the communicative paradigm . For instance, oral examinations , which could include structured interview, speech analysis acts as well as information gap exercises entail tasks that demands in the reflect real-life situations are currently common in different language tests.
Foundation of Language Acquisition
Many questions have been raised of how humans have evolved uniquely from other primates to allow for the use of complex human language. According to a number of modern linguists such as Chomsky who is frequently regarded as the father of modern linguistics, the same elementary linguistic structure is shared between all human beings, and they acquire language naturally (De et al, 2012). This means biological foundations lay out the foundation for language acquisition of all human beings. This presentation will be talking about the biological foundations of language acquisition, evolutionary biology of language, and provide an example of a case in which an individual cannot acquire language, respectively. If a person knows a language, he/she utilizes it either by producing sounds or remaining silent and receives auditory signals. Therefore, the knowledge of a language does not necessarily mean the ability to speak and structure sentences but the ability to comprehend the essential structure of language (Freed, 2009). However, the ability to speak still holds an important role in language acquisition. The voice production is made up of three main parts: Respiration (lungs), phonation (larynx), and articulation (mouth, lips, teeth, nose, and so on). So how can a child acquire language before the latter stage of communication? The brain allows the child to do it. The brain consists of two hemispheres: left and right. Moreover, the corpus callosum plays a role of connecting the two hemispheres. On the left hemisphere, there are the Broca and Wernicke's area, which are located at the front and back part of the hemisphere (De et al, 2012). To add on, there are mechanisms that also help a child acquire language before the latter stage of communication too. In the very early life of a child, a biological device starts to function as soon as being exposed to language in order to acquire it without being taught and this device is called Language Acquisition Device (LAD), which was theorized by Chomsky (Fletcher et al, 2015). Nevertheless, it is obvious that this ability is beyond their exposure, or the nurture aspect of language acquisition. According to National Science Foundation, this is attributed to Universal Grammar. Universal Grammar allows a person to be fluent in any language under the condition that the acquiring stage must be at a very early age- Critical period hypothesis theory is about an age window allowing a child to acquire behaviors.
According to Dr. Pascale Michelon, who is a Cognitive Psychologist at Washington University in Saint Louis, brain plasticity occurs in the human brain at three stages; the first few years of life, when the brain damages, and when learning and memorizing (De et al, 2012). Further, a person can easily acquire language during the first few years of existence, as the brain is still 'plastic'. It explains that a bilingual person has a larger left inferior parietal cortex than those of a monolingual person. This demonstrates the theory of brain plasticity, as well as how the critical period is important. All human beings, in their early life, have an ability to acquire language natively. Research indicates that if infants do not have a chance to acquire language during the critical period, they would not be able to use the native language as a true native speaker would even though they were born in the area.
Language Acquisition Theories
Young children are natural language acquirers. They are in many ways motivated to learn new language (Crain & Lillo-Martin, 2013). They do this with no conscious learning, as is the case with adults. The ability to imitate pronunciations as well as working out the rules for themselves is amazing. Unlike adults, the idea that a language is difficult to acquire does not occur to them not unless adults say this to them. Further, young children have enough time in learning a language through play activities.
Study indicates that children are able to use their individual, as well as innate strategies of learning a language in order to acquire their first language. They quickly pick up language by being involved in activities shared with adults close to them such their parents. Young children first make sense of these activities and then attach a specific meaning from their adults' language (Crain & Lillo-Martin, 2013). They have enough time in fitting a language into their daily activities. At a school level, programs in schools are mostly informal to them and their minds are yet to be cluttered with facts for them to be tested and stored.
In addition, young who have the chance to acquire a second language at their early age, tend to utilize the same strategies of innate language learning in their lives when learning any other languages. Further those that acquire language instead of consciously learning it, as is the case with older children or adults, are likely to have better skills of word pronunciation as well as feeling the language and its culture. In the puberty stage, children are more self-conscious while their ability to pick up a new language drops. At this stage, they feel the need to consciously ...
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