Language acquisition is the process by which humans acquire the capacity to perceive and comprehend language, as well as to produce and use words to communicate. The capacity to successfully use language requires one to pick up a range of tools including syntax, phonetics, and an extensive vocabulary. This language might be vocalized as with speech or manual as in sign. Language acquisition usually refers to first language acquisition, which studies infants' acquisition of their native language. This is distinguished from second language acquisition, which deals with the acquisition (in both children and adults) of additional languages.
2 General approaches
2.1 Social interactionism
Social interactionist theory consists of a number of hypotheses on language acquisition. These hypotheses deal with written, spoken, or visual social tools which consist of complex systems of symbols and rules on language acquisition and development. The compromise between “nature” and “nurture” is the “interactionist” approach. In addition, for years psychologists and researchers have been asking the same question: what are the language behaviors that nature provides innately and what are those behaviors that are realized by environmental exposure, which is nurture.
2.2 Relational frame theory
The relational frame theory (Hayes, Barnes-Holmes, Roche, 2001), provides a wholly selectionist/learning account of the origin and development of language competence and complexity. Based upon the principles of Skinnerian behaviorism, RFT posits that children acquire language purely through interacting with the environment. RFT theorists introduced the concept of functional contextualism in language learning, which emphasizes the importance of predicting and influencing psychological events, such as thoughts, feelings, and behaviors, by focusing on manipulable variables in their context. RFT distinguishes itself from Skinner's work by identifying and defining a particular type of operant conditioning known as derived relational responding, a learning process that to date appears to occur only in humans possessing a capacity for language. Empirical studies supporting the predictions of RFT suggest that children learn language via a system of inherent reinforcements, challenging the view that language acquisition is based upon innate, language-specific cognitive capacities.
Emergentist theories, such as MacWhinney's competition model, posit that language acquisition is a cognitive process that emerges from the interaction of biological pressures and the environment. According to these theories, neither nature nor nurture alone is sufficient to trigger language learning; both of these influences must work together in order to allow children to acquire a language. The proponents of these theories argue that general cognitive processes subserve language acquisition and that the end result of these processes is language-specific phenomena, such as word learning and grammar acquisition. The findings of many empirical studies support the predictions of these theories, suggesting that language
4 Representation of language acquisition in the brain
Recent advances in functional neuroimaging technology have allowed for a better understanding of how language acquisition is manifested physically in the brain. Language acquisition almost always occurs in children during a period of rapid increase in brain volume. At this point in development, a child has much more neural connections than he or she will have as an adult, allowing for the child to be more able to learn new things than he or she would be as an adult.
4.1 The Sensitive Period
This critical period is usually never missed by cognitively normal children- humans are so well prepared to learn language that it becomes almost impossible not to. Researchers are unable to experimentally test the effects of the sensitive period of development on language acquisition because it would be unethical to deprive children of language until this period is over. However, case studies on abused, language deprived children show that they were extremely limited in their language skills even after instruction.
5 Vocabulary acquisition
The capacity to acquire the ability to incorporate the pronunciation of new words depends upon the capacity to engage in speech repetition. Children with reduced abilities to repeat nonwords (a marker of speech repetition abilities) show a slower rate of vocabulary expansion than children for whom this is easy. It has been proposed that the elementary units of speech has been selected to enhance the ease with which sound and visual input can be mapped into motor vocalization. Several computational models of vocabulary acquisition have been proposed so far.
Children learn on average 10 to 15 new word meanings each day, but only one of these words can be accounted for by direct instruction. The other nine to 14 word meanings need to be picked up in some other way. It has been proposed that children acquire these meanings with the use of processes modeled by latent semantic analysis; that is, when they meet an unfamiliar word, children can use information in its context to correctly guess its rough area of meaning.
7 Neurocognitive research
According to several linguists, neurocognitive research has confirmed many standards of language learning, such as: "learning engages the entire person (cognitive, affective, and psychomotor dominas), the human brain seeks patterns in its searching for meaning, emotions affect all aspects of learning, retention and recall, past experience always affects new learning, the brain's working memory has a limited capacity, lecture usually results in the lowest degree of retention, rehearsal is essential for retention, practice [alone] does not maen.