Innateness In Childhood Essay

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Learning a first language in childhood is an experience that all normal functioning humans undergo. Learning a second language after childhood, however, is an experience which not everyone attempts or succeeds in. The question of whether learning one’s first language as a child is the same as learning subsequent languages as an adult is one that interests psychologists, scientists and linguists alike. Although in many respects the acquisition process of children learning their first language and adults learning their second, third or fourth language is similar, overall there are striking differences between the manner in which these two groups do so, which mean that the process is not essentially the same across both these groups. Throughout…show more content…
This theory goes on to explain that the developmental stages of learning a language are universal to all humans and that the amount grammar people gain knowledge of is mostly undetermined by linguistic life experience. These hypotheses that the theory of Universal Grammar make are proven by the explanation of impoverished data, which outlines that despite the grammatical and linguistic errors, unstructured and incomplete sentences that children hear from a young age each child still adopts the correct syntactic rules of their language because of their innate template. Moreover, the hypothesis of innateness is further proven with the fact that most speakers of any given language realize when a sentence is ungrammatical, even if they do not know the reason for this (Fromkin et al. 2014, pp.304-308). As well as this, research has shown that infants instinctively know the sounds of human language and respond to the…show more content…
Research has shown that in most cases adult learners of a second language find the learning process more difficult than children learners and that unlike children learning their first language, many do not attain a native-like accent or competency. Additionally, it has been proven that many adults acquiring their second language make syntactic and morphological errors that are different to the common errors made by children acquiring their first language, with many of these errors fossilising, meaning that they are unable to adopt correction. Furthermore, dissimilar to first language acquisition, which is universally learned, adult second language learners often do not achieve fluency (Fromkin et al. 2014, pp.333-335). Despite the stages and process of learning a second language being similar to that undergone in first language acquisition in some ways, the fundamental difference between these two processes is the fact that to a large extent second language learners generalise and rely on the knowledge of their first language to learn their second, also known as applying their prerequistite linguistic knowledge, an aspect of learning that does not occur when acquiring one’s first language. It is because of this that the majority of
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