Bykeeping this journal I have learned that children learn language withease and second as they rely on language acquisition devices (LADs).The case is not true for adults who try to learn a second language asthey are influence d by other factors. Learning a second language isinfluenced by innate and social factors. Moreover, the quality ofassigned academic works on second languages is influenced by secondlanguage learners. And that in order to determine how people acquirea second language one has to determine the language properties of thesecond language against those of the first. Unlike naturalacquisition, which is done by children, new languages are oftenobstructed by the grammar of the new language and Universal Grammarwhen not available to both the first and second languages can lead todifficulties in applying the first language’s principle to thesecond language. Nevertheless, learning a new language is easy forchildren than it is for adults.
Thisjournal helped me understand that children learn a language easilyand are able to take out sounds and words out of speeches and assignmeaning that suit them. Moreover, for children to develop languagewith easy they need to have people who will help them understand itwith easy as they speak in short sentences and simple words. Thus, Ilearned that language learning between children is an interactionbetween a tutor and a child in a problem solving way and children donot always imitate as it was previously stated. They are able tolearn the past tense of some words as they hear them frequently usedby parents. Furthermore, a child can acquire a second language andbecome a bilingual. This happens a result of interest, economicissues, invasion, or migration to another country.
Thepeople who are bilingualism cannot be standard and this is because ofthe exposure to languages at different levels, and due toglobalization, it has become close to a necessity and differentabilities. Moreover, the journal entry helped me discover that peoplewho are bilingual are so many, practically in every nation.Acquisition of a new language and achieve a near- native mastery isoften easier and better on younger persons especially children.Cognitive processes are affected by bilingual activities due to theissue of overspecialization. Bilinguals have low mastery ofvocabularies but excel at tasks that need attention and inhibition.
Learninga second language increases the chances of academic achievement of asecond language because of better understanding. The best form oflearning a new language is by taking into consideration the languageculture and the social settings of the language. The human mindemploys psychological and physical strategies to adapt and form athinking process in the world.
Bykeeping this journal I think I have satisfactorily analyzed the givenaspects of language acquisition. As I have understood how language islearned from an early stage to the acquisition of the secondlanguage. I have also understood why it easy for children to learn alanguage than it is with adults and various factors which influencelanguage learning. I am confident that I have met the objectives ofthis subject and what I did not like was the fact that in someentries I might have written little information. Moreover, thesubject of Second Acquisition should be deeply analyzed soas to provide complete understanding.
Knowledgeof as a Focus of Inquiry
has been studied for a while, and it was understood to give insightinto someone’s mind as it is a mirror. Some researchers havealluded that science of thought does not differ with that oflanguage. However, that is not true in the aspect of grammar as it isan art that depicts how particular language internalizes principlesof human reason. In the romantic period, content and nature ofthought were influenced partly by instruments that were used forexpress of a language. Just like wisdom, language is partly intrinsicand it grows and matures as one ages.
Chomoskyconcentrates his article in the analysis of generative grammar. Thissubject concerns itself with the study of intelligence of the reader,procedures and principles used to gain or understand language. Sometraditional theorists in Europe and America dedicated themselves inderiving aspects of grammar through analytic study. However, theirstudies and a proposal could not be understood as they wereinadequate. Previously, the standard thought was that language wasacquired through overlearning. It has been discovered that peoplemight share the same knowledge of language, but yet differ in howthey use it. Moreover, this ability might vary and be impairedwithout any change in knowledge.
Thesystem of knowledge that has been developed in people’s minds hasvarious consequences on how it relates to meaning and sounds inassigning structural properties to physical events in a particularway. Chomsky, concludes that there is little hope in showingknowledge in regard to induction, reliable procedures, analogy,association, and reliable procedures. He adds that to know how todistinguish knowledge and use it, one should follow normal usage.Therefore, what Chomsky intends to point out is the fact thatknowledge is not correlated to people use language.
Sometimeswhen adults talk people take it for granted and their senses areactually brought to light when they are trying to learn a newlanguage. This is because they cannot no longer pronounce words orspell them correctly. Moreover, it becomes easier to forget that havebeen learned and thus, it is difficult for one to say or expresshimself/ herself as everyone speaks quickly. However, when it comesto children they are able to talk in impossible language without mucheffort despite them being unable to eat well or tie shoes.
Inaddition, despite not having a problem in a new language they haveone when trying to know what to say and when. This can be elaboratedby statement like “if I was a raccoon I would eat the farmer’scorpse” a statement from a kindergarten student. In this statement,children are able to communicate and construct sentences, yet theyare naïve. Despite children being small, they are able to comprehendthe meaning of words quickly by listening to what people say for thefirst time. In trying to analyze, child language researchers havedecided to study it through experimental and naturalistic method.
Innaturalistic approach, the researchers record the words that arepronounced by a child by keeping a journal. This method enables theresearchers to be able to comprehend the change in children as it ishappening. Thus, children learn language by learning words andmeaning before they understand sounds and will construct sentencesafter acquiring a few words. Thus, by studying this chapter one isable to understand that children learn by working first on sounds,then words, meanings and sentence structures.
Atthe first birthday of a child, the mind of children have alreadydeveloped and can follow direction of an adult stare. At this point achild’s vocabulary has some minor word like mummy and daddy and canmake particular sounds. Moreover, at this stage parents assistchildren to assign meaning to sounds. Grady states that the learningprocess is quite slow and few words are learned weekly. However, ateighteen month there vocabulary increases greatly and new words canbe learned daily.
Thatdoes not mean that the language spurt for all children will takeplace at that age, in some it happens when the children have avocabulary of 100 words. As age increase they are able to learn aboutat average ten words in a day between the age of two to six years.When children talk, it is impossible to know all they word they utteras they do it without pauses. Children keenly listen and break thespeeches into meaningful smaller unit where they can learn words andas they grow it becomes easier for them to break the sentences intoparts for them to understand as identifying words is the first stage.
Inlearning word inflection, children learn those word they often hearjust like the past tense of words like “go” and “see” as theyare often used by the parents. Maratsos estimates that in someinstances, getting it right in using word inflection might take aslong as being exposed a hundred times in children. Words are createdthrough conversion where they give already existing words newmeaning derivation where a letters are added to an existing word toget new meaning and compounding where two words are joined together.However, when children are learning they create their own words, somewhich are entirely new. Thus, children find words from speeches anduse them to confer to their meanings.
Learningfirst or native language for children has been an achievement yetphilosophers have not been able to know how they do it. Philosophershave realized they were wrong as they explained language acquisitionwith methods and principles that were less related with language.Previously, researchers thought that children learned language byassociating actions and objects with words, imitating their parentsor elderly and reinforcement. Additionally, another researcher, NoamChomsky thought that language was not learned, but innatelyrecognized.
However,George Miller disagrees with the two as to him the theories began tostudy language acquisition at late stages because as a child hasalready learned to say something, he/she has already known a thingabout the world such as distinction in objects and this has not beingsolved. Moreover, when children speak they are already aware of themassage they wish to express even before they start using language.Thus, according understanding language for a child needs acollaboration from the mother or the teacher, who interpret themessage or communication and its intent in a dialogue manner.
Moreover,a child learns language through joint role enactment, this is asituation where the baby wants any object and consistently looks atit will his/her body extend towards that object. As the child growsif he/she wants the object she/he will look at the object and themother until he/she gets it. As the child grows the mother teachesher/him to execute an action. This might result to acceptance orrefusal, and it is those shifts in the meaning of words that are keyin learning language.
AsBruner states that the “communicative framework established intheir dialogue by mother and child provides the setting for thechild’s acquisition of this language function.” Thereforelanguage is easily learned through role interaction. Furthermore, achild needs the request for support action to enhance his/herlearning. This is what help a child understand the structure of task.According to Bruner, the rule of natural language learning is thatlanguage is learned in order to interact with someone about the twoshare.” Thus, language acquisition is not a solo effort by a child,but an involvement between her/him and the mother as the activeteacher.
Moskowitzopens his argument by stating that one might get uncomfortable whenhe/she is an unfamiliar language. A new language is characterized byunpredictable patterns of falling and rising sounds of mysteriousstrings. When people are speaking, they know when to talk, andinterpret each other, however, an individual who does not know thelanguage will not be able to pick out words or sounds leave aloneunderstanding the meaning. A child can easily learn a new language,but an elderly person will have various challenges.
Whatmakes this difficult is the fact that adults have been taught variousgrammar issues and cannot dissociate themselves from the teachingssuch as rules of phonology, syntax, semantics, and pragmatics. Whileadults try to learn language with regard to these rules, childrendon’t. They learn lexicon, pragmatics, phonily, syntax, andsemantics by breaking down the system in smaller units and thendeveloping the rules for combing the individual units.
Moreover,for children to learn language with easy they must be brought inenvironments where people speak and talk to each other. Moreover, thepeople around a child should be able to construct sentences that aresimple and short as they help children in developing language. Whenchildren are learning semantic, phonetics and phonology, they may befaced with various challenges as they often get mixed up, but as timepasses they are able to comprehend and form sentence perfectly.
Thesame applies in learning how to use plural, functions and constructtelegraphic speech. Thus, learning in children requires that childrenare exposed in an environment that is friendly, where people talk andin simple word and short sentence which will allow the child to getthe right vocabulary and learn how to construct word.
Second Acquisition (SLA)
Thisrefers to the study of groups or individuals who are learning secondlanguage. This is the second language (L2) which an individual learnsafter being versant with their first language. Also known as commontarget. Informal SLA takes places in naturalistic environment, whileformal L2 take place in classrooms. For instance, when a child fromChina learn English while playing with her friends, the secondlanguage is acquired in informal settings. However, when the child isbeing trained the setting of SLA are formal.
Tounderstand how a second language is acquired researchers seek toanswer how the second leaner comes to know, acquire second languageknowledge, and why some leaners become successful than others.Despite having these questions, researchers do not agree on anyanswers as SLA is complex and they use different theories andresearch methods. For instance, linguists emphasize the proximitiesof language and differences of language being studied psychologistemphasize the mental ability and processes of acquisition and Socialpsychologist emphasize on social motivation and identity and thelearning environment.
Thus,researchers from these different fields will try to explain themotivation and outcome of the learning from the perspective of theirbackground fields. The author states that SLA must integratecomponents of linguistic, psychological and social. Moreover, in thischapter one is able to learn that there are various languages such aslibrary, foreign, and auxiliary.
Whatdifferentiates first language from second language is that the formeris learned at the early stages of childhood. In some instance,children might acquire various languages in this stage resulting insimultaneous multilingualism. Furthermore, the author details thatSLA is also influenced by environment in which it is learned. Forinstance, if learning the new language is necessary to have basicneeds or formal instruction. Nevertheless, these setting areinfluenced by economic, cultural, and social factors.
Theworld of second languages
Thereare various terms used to refer to the use of second languages. Oneis multilingualism, where a person is able to speak more than twolanguages and bilingualism, where one speak two languages. In theworld today, bilingualism is present in all countries of the worldand there are more people who speak bilingualism and multilingualismthan those who speak a single language.
Beinga multilingual can arise from migration into another country,interest in knowing other people’s culture, social advancement,need to pursue educational experiences, adoption of religious beliefswhich require one to learn new language, and invasion of other speakin one’s nation among other factors. Moreover, there are variousfactors that promote language learning. One, natural ability it isbelieved that children are born with innate ability to learnlanguage. This is because children are able to learn language at thesame age irrespective of the language.
Furthermore,social experience also play a role in influencing the language thatis learned. It true that a child will not learn a language unlessthey are in an environment where it is being used. In learning, thefirst language is easily learned while the second one involves a lotof challenges, conditions and processes. Despite, so much effort inlearning the second language, it is not always certain that one willbe successful. This might be because elders do not utilize LADs andalso due to the fact that the second language is influenced byprevious knowledge that had been acquired. Thus an adult cannotfreely learn as a child does.
Thisterm was developed by an American linguist Larry Selinker to denote asystem of language exhibited when a grown up second language learnertry’s to express himself/herself in the language being learned.Children have always learned native language with easy, but the casehas not always been the same with adults learning a second language.It is this difference that interlanguage intends to explain.
Beforethe idea of interlanguage came to exist, it was believed thatlearning second language was influenced by native language. However,this believe was not supported by a systematic study. Corder was themost persuasive and the first researcher to show that second languagewas in any was related to native language, but “built-in syllabus.”He points that the native language serves as a secondary resourcethat helps one in learning and acquiring target language. However,the synaptic and morphological of native language and the secondlanguage are different.
Onthe other hand, children can learn a second language with ease asthey still can exploit language acquisition device (LAD), whileadults learn it by the utilization of latent psychologicalstructures, which are strategies for learning, transfer of training,strategies for communication, overgeneralization of target, andnative transfer language. Thus, Tarone puts forward that naturallanguage is produced by LADs, but interlanguage unlike the nativeone, fossilize and evidence native language transfers. Thus,interlanguages are instruments or products of psychologicalstructures and not LADs and thus, interlanguage does not have to obeylanguage universals. It is for this reason that it is easy for achild to learn a second language than it is for a child due toutilization of LADs.
RethinkingInteraction in SLA: Developmentally Appropriate Assistance in theZone of Proximal Development and the Acquisition of L2 Grammar
Thereis an increase in interest among teachers and researchers incomprehending how language development happens not in laboratories,but tutoring sessions, classes, and other tutoring settings. Ohtacarried out a research. In it, she discovered that classroomenvironment was important to promote the development of secondlanguage. In the research, Becky is able to accomplish what she couldnot do with ease as she is being assisted.
Haiwho is the teacher through team work and collaboration was able tostimulate and increase the performance of Becky. As a result, Haicould no longer assist Becky does those simple chores as he hadalready taught how to respond. However, the effectiveness of learningdepends on various factors such the help of an expert, goals ofparticipants, nature of tasks, and the development of levels of thelearners. In the research, Hai concentrated in helping Becky in thoseresponsibilities and chore that she could do on her own.
However,the study had few shortcomings as it did not focus on what wouldhappen in case where the student was a foreigner. Moreover, theresults of learner interaction cannot determined by considering thetask design, but the task themselves. Additionally, what learners doin learning settings and activity and how they are correlated tolanguage development has to be known before it can be admitted thatthe research can be viewed as valuable. Ohta, shows that environmentis important in influencing how one learns a language and theinteraction between student and teacher is important in languagedevelopment.
HowLong? A synthesis of Research on Academic Achievement in a Second
Fora couple decades, researchers have dedicated their efforts on theacquisition of language, yet little study has been conducted toaddress the issues or variables that influence the learning processand the level of proficiency that can be regarded as successful inacquiring a second language. Though according to wide assumption thatchildren learn language easily, according to Collier, scientists arestill in dispute debating this topic.
However,more evidence show that cognitive development, learning language andits proficiency is highly correlated to age. Collier indicates thatlearning the first language is not easy and takes approximately 12months. At the age of five years children are able to acquiredetailed knowledge in language by being able to understand grammar,semantics, phonology, vocabulary and pragmatics. On the other hand,the acquisition of the second language can be influenced or affectedby various factor.
Forinstance, Collier believes that older children probably between theage of 8 to 12 quickly and efficiently learn the second languageadolescents and adults with strong first language are likely tomaster interpersonal skills of second language at earl stagedisruption in learning first language can hinder the cognitivedevelopment of second language and finally, academic achievement isnot affected by what time an individual is exposed to second languageas long as he/she is below puberty.
Moreover,Collier found out that uninterrupted and consistent academicdevelopment in learning second language for academic achievement ismore important than learning for more hours immigrants who arebetween the age of 8 and 12 and who have some basic schooling of atleast 2 years might take 5 to 7 years to be able to get to theaverage performance of native speakers while those that had noprevious schooling might take 7 to 10 years. Thus, what Collier triesto put forward is the fact that learning a second language isinfluenced by previous education in the first language and age.
Task-RelatedVariation in Interlanguage: The Case of Articles
Thequality of work produced by second language learners in the field oflanguage varies dependent on the task assigned according to Tarone(1988). According to studies done, the variability in taskperformance can be attributed to communicative demands and disclosurecharacteristics of jobs, and other complex variables. Studies done onJapanese and Arabic native speakers of the English language show thattasks are performed least accurately on measures that are thought todemand attention to form, and very accurately on those that requirelittle attention to form (Tarone & Parrish, 1988).
Taroneand Parrish (1988) concluded that “attention to language form” isnot a standard measure to determine a pattern of style shifting. Asystem of analysis that looked at the use of articles in pronounprepositions was adopted it looked at the relationship between thearticle and the noun phrase, the articles paired with each nounphrase level of semantics, and the semantics of each noun phrase.
Theaccuracy of articles in narrative tasks is high, and this isattributed to the influence of communicative pressure. The task ofspeaking demand that if one is to speak effectively, they must getright certain types of noun phrases so that the one listening cankeep up with the references in the narration (Tarone & Parrish,1988)
Anotherfactor that increases the accuracy on oral tasks unlike in grammartests is probably the cohesiveness of the discourse brought up by thetask. If a feature is semantically stalled, in a communicativesetting, it will most likely be omitted. But if the same feature isimportant in another communicative context, it will be included. As aresult, the factors that influence the variability in language mixare the situational factors, the linguistic setting of the feature,and the communicative function of the characteristic (Tarone &Parrish, 1988).
TheLinguistics of Second Acquisition
Naturaloccurring languages constitute recurring elements that are seen onpatterns of relationships making them systematic. They are alsosymbolic in nature and reflect the social expectations of the societythat uses it. In order to classify languages for the purpose ofdescription or analysis, linguists must first classify them. Theseclassifications are done on the levels of phonology, lexicon,morphology, syntax, and discourse (Saville & Troike, 2006).
Todetermine how people acquire second languages, Contractive Analysis(CA) is adopted. CA is an approach that constitutes explaining andpredicting problems faced by learners by comparing the first andsecond language in order to determine their similarities and theirdifferences. The analysis concentrates on interferences that are“same meaning but a different form, same meaning but different formand distribution, same form and meaning but different distribution,different form but partial overlap in meaning, and similar form butdifferent meaning” (Saville & Troike, 2006).
Anotherapproach to the study of Second Acquisition (SLA) is ErrorAnalysis which focuses on an individual’s internal ability toconstruct language. This analysis is focused on the errors of thelearner. Capacity to acquire the vast complex knowledge ofunderstanding of the second language as that of a first language israrely achieved (Saville & Troike, 2006).
Theviews on how second language acquisition takes place differ on theirdetermination of the static universal grammar capacity. Views on whysome learners are successful in learning the requirements ofcommunicative processing vary from explanations that constitutecommunicative need and an opportunity to internal language and thestatus of mind (Saville & Troike, 2006).
Second Acquisition and Universal Grammar
Unlikechildren that gain their linguistic competence from their mothertongue, the competence in linguistics in second language learners isnot definite, complex, and subtle. Children can acquire languagecapabilities that are not taught and are not obvious. This knowledgesupersedes the rules of language construction which pose a problemduring a second language acquisition (White, 1990).
Theproblem with learning a new language has brought about proposals thatthat certain aspect of language must be in the learner for him or herto adopt the complexities of the grammar of the new language. Withthis predisposition, the learner would be limited in grammarconstruction to general strategies of learning that is inductive(White, 1990).
Whenthe first language has the properties of universal principles, itdoes not guarantee that the second language learners will be able toaccess the same principles in Universal Grammar. It has beensuggested that the difficulties in applying language one principleson language two can be traced to the fact that Universal Grammar isnot available to learners of the second language. It is viewed thatthe change is because the mechanisms while learning the secondlanguage do not rhyme those of the first language acquisition (White,1990).
WhenUniversal Grammar is available to learners during acquisition of asecond language, they can have an unconscious mental representationof their language. It is highly unlikely that the second languagewill possess that kind of information on its properties this makeslanguage one to undermine the grammar of the second language. This isbecause the knowledge of language one goes beyond general learningstrategies, but it operates under instinct (White, 1990).
UniversalGrammar is the knowledge about a particular subject underpinned byabstract but crucial principals. If learners apply language oneprinciples to language two, it brings about a neutral sense ofUniversal Grammar (White, 1990).
Bilingualism,the ability to speak at least two languages does not mean completemastery of both languages. Few bilinguals speak both languagesproficiently with equal ease and skill. The reason as to why mostbilingual do not speak the languages equally is that they have notbeen equally exposed to all the languages, and they do not use thelanguages with the same frequency (Myers & Scotton, n.d.).
Theaspect that promoted bilingualism is the differences in people who donot share the first language but still need to communicate. With therise in colonialism many people obtained contracts and had to travelaway from their homeland, today people come together as a result ofbusiness, immigration, and education. For these people to share ideasand work together they have to learn each other’s language or acommon language and bilingualism is born (Myers & Scotton, n.d.).
Bilingualismhas today risen from the social-political forces naturally in today`sworld. When two groups interact the less powerful one learns theother`s language, or they sometime settle on a neutral language asthe mode of communication. These acts promote bilingualism becausespeakers keep their first language and learn a new language (Myers &Scotton, n.d.).
Linguiststake two positions regarding bilingualism. One is that bilingualismworks as an impediment to understanding language because in order tobetter understand a language one should focus on the main subject.The other position is that bilingualism provides a platform forunderstanding languages by their structure familiarity with otherlanguages (Myers & Scotton, n.d.).
AgeAcquisition and a Second
Bilingualchild language acquisition refers to acquiring at least two languagesthrough exposure as a young child. Acquisition in this settingacquires a new meaning. It is the passive learning with no effort orinstruction. Very few people who try learning a new language later intheir life achieve a near-native command of the language and the agelimit for native-like acquisition is still a contested topic (Myers &Scotton, n.d.).
Thelanguage that children are exposed to they acquire. This is usuallydone by the ages of three or four but is dependent on the grammaticalelements of the acquired language. All children acquire languageswithout instruction, be they bilingual or monolingual. Althoughlearning one language is easy for children, they often resistlearning the second one (Myers & Scotton, n.d.).
Theuse of structure between a child’s languages varies. Though someinfluence maybe superficial affecting the word order in sentences,they pose little to no no consequence to the grammatical structure.The language from which a child draws his/her morphemes, the Matrix controls the grammatical frame of words from both languages.If French is a child’s matrix language, then the structural flowought to come from French (Myers & Scotton, n.d.).
Transferbetween languages is in very little amounts in a child’sbilingualism making it distinctive from SLA. This is because whenacquiring a second language, there always is transfer. growssystematically, and the knowledge of linguistics is split intorepresentations. When this happens to a child’s bilingualism, wheresystems of differing levels are acquired, it is assumed that itshould also be possible for second language learners (Myers &Scotton, n.d.).
TheConsequence of Bilingualism for Cognitive Processing
In the case of bilinguals, one question is always persistent, aretheir forms of processing language single or combined? Does onelanguage interfere with the others? The effects of bilingualism in aperson equal roundabouts and swings. Having an inability to learn twolanguages provides superiority in cognitive processes (Cook, n.d.)
Incountries where its citizens are multi-linguals, the issue ofsubtractive elements come from overspecialization. Cognitive breadthand metalinguistic awareness which are additive elements arereversed. In the investigations of why monolinguals do not attain theultimate human potential focuses on the drawbacks of bilinguals. Thelosses and gains in the cognitive processes are measured against thenorm (Cook, n.d.)
For researchers, the norm in second language acquisitionpsychological research is the monolingual against which the secondlanguage users are measured. In linguistics, to determine whatconstitutes the knowledge of a language is the linguistic ability ofone language and not multiple. Monolingual has been as the pure andidealized language knowledge as opposed to the incomprehensiblebilingualism (Cook, n.d.)
Therehave been challenges to the study of monolinguals alone byproclamations such as the bilingualism the state of two monolingualsin a person. It is apparent that the study of bilinguals cannot bebased on the theories that take monolinguals as a universal standard.The growth of the monolingual perspective is traced to the nature ofhuman beings and its society. When the features of sex, class, andrace are linked, the difference is observed and not the lacking. Thesame principle is to be applied in the study of language two userstheir cognitive abilities should not be compared to or condemned withreference to those of native speakers (Cook, n.d.)
Bilingualism:The Good, the Bad, and the Indifferent
Variousexperiences influence behavior, psychological aspects and thestructural aspects of cognitive performance. Unlike monolinguals,bilinguals have mastery over a smaller percentage of the vocabularyof their languages. This is a drawback since vocabulary is at thecenter of the oral and written forms of literate development(Bialystok, 2008).
Soas to have a good grasp on two languages, bilinguals require theirexecutive control systems to be under constant attention targetingthe language. There is a very high probability that this experiencemakes bilinguals more equipped to tackle other complex situations inlife. The main processes of the executive systems include shiftingmental sets, inhibitions, and continuous update of the working memory(Bialystok, 2008).
Studiesshow that bilingual children have superiority over their monolingualcounterparts on metalinguistic tasks that need inhibition andattention. Whether a bilingual can affect the functionality anddevelopment of a working memory is unclear. Under bilingual speechproduction, language proficiency in the basis of vocabulary accessand attention mechanism under problem solving are systems thatcontribute to bilingual speech production (Bialystok, 2008).
Whileassessing studies on abilities, the significance of bilingualism overcognitive experience is enormous. The unclear part is the directionand the nature of the experiences. Studies focused on lexicalretrieval and language proficiency show shortcomings in bilinguals interms of the extent of their representational base and their slownessin the retrieval of the lexical items. Under control abilities,bilinguals show strength through a learner’s lifespan with theprocesses being visible in early childhood, being efficient inadulthood and being lost slowly with aging (Bialystok, 2008).
Proficiency, Bilingualism and Academic Achievement
The most contentious debate of the past two decades has been on therelationship between language proficiency and academic achievement.The oral and academic aspects of language proficiency need to bedetermined. Failing to take into account these two sides of language,lead to an underestimated assessment of the psychological academicpotential of students that have had no time to attain age-appropriateproficiency of a language (Cummins, 1985).
Astudent needs less knowledge of the second language for them to beable to communicate effectively in the language. This is in contrastto an academic context where there is a need for greater support forreceiving and communicating meaning. Studies show that theinterdependency between the first and second language under contextand cognitive proficiencies manifest a common primary proficiency(Cummins, 1985).
Instructionthrough a mother tongue does not influence academic performancelevels in a second language. As findings of studies suggest, thelanguage one student benefits from the promotion of his/her languageand the development of a form of bilingualism that is additive. Tostudents that are learning a new language, switching to speaking itwith people that do not understand it has negative effects on theemotional and cognitive as a result of substandard interactions(Cummins, 1985).
Althoughthe causes of underperformance of language two students of languageone minorities are not understood, it is predicted that studentspartly or fully instructed in the minority language will performbetter than those instructed entirely through the majority language.Promotion of the first language translates to the development of afoundation for conceptual and academic knowledge of the secondlanguage (Cummins, 1985).
SocialContexts of Second Acquisition
Theknowledge needed for a speaker to communicate appropriately in agiven language is known as communicative competence. It entails notonly the linguistic requirements of the language but also thecomponent knowledge critical to the language. The differences betweenmonolingual and multilingual competence are attributed to thedifferent social setting and the language culture (Saville &Troike, 2006).
Whenlearning a second language, to obtain maximum proficiency one must beaware of the various social contexts. They include micro social,psychological, and linguistic contexts. In order to gain knowledge ofa language, input is necessary to be it the first or the secondlanguage. Social interaction also plays an integral part in theacquisition of language especially the first language (Saville &Troike, 2006).
Thesociocultural theory focuses on factors beyond the learner inlanguage acquisition it views learning as an innate mental processthat involves mediation. It includes the ability of being aware ofone’s mental ability and has control over the mental process. Thistheory advocates for interpersonal interactions and scaffolding toacquisition (Saville & Troike, 2006).
Individualsmay acquire proficiency in languages without interactions whileothers may never learn anything significant despite extensiveinteraction with the speakers of the language. The power of languageson an international level makes for ease of its adoption be it forpride or survival (Saville & Troike, 2006).
SLAviewed in the social perspective of an ecological context brings outthe circumstance of learning. When children begin their officialstudies, they are aware of the values and beliefs of their culture.This knowledge forms rules that are to be followed in the process oflearning in the community (Saville & Troike, 2006).
Thesociocultural theory operates under the mediation of the human mind,and as humans we employ physical tools and psychological tools toestablish a relationship with the world. According to this view,languages are under constant molding so that they may serve thepurpose of the community. Under genetic domains, it focuses on howchildren obtain and use mediation means and their primary languageinto their thinking process as they mature (Lantolf, 2000).
Thenotion that speaking and thinking are one and the same is rejected bysociocultural theory. Though speaking is a form of communicatingalready thought out information, it is argued that the processes areinterrelated but independent. Linguistic activities cannot beunderstood completely without manifesting them and thought cannot beexplained without taking into account how it is made (Lantolf, 2000).
Linguisticallyorganized meditational artifacts happen in the process ofinternalization, which then functions as the source of consciousnessthat draws from social activity. Individually, in time we canregulate our mental and physical activities through set guidelines bythe society. It is during this stage that a person is able to controlhis/her psychological functions at will (Lantolf, 2000).
Thezone of proximal development is where the social mediation growthhappens. It was originally proposed to show how boarding schoolingimpacts intelligence. When professionals and amateurs come togetherin a teaching experience, the novices do not merely copy but absorbwhat is taught and employ it in their doings. These imitation treatamateurs as communicative beings (Lantolf, 2000).
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