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Introduction to Linguistics

In: English and Literature

Submitted By AJonah
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Introduction

When you were still a very young child, you began acquiring at least one language — what linguists call your L1 (first language) — probably without thinking much about it, and with very little conscious effort or awareness. Since that time, you may have acquired an additional language — your L2 (second language) — possibly also in the natural course of having the language used around you, but more likely with the same conscious effort needed to acquire other domains of knowledge in the process of becoming an “educated” individual. This presentation is about the phenomenon of adding languages. In it I will define a few of the key terms that we will use and 5 stages we go through when learning a language.

What is language acquisition?
Do you know what word you first spoke? Have you ever considered how many words you have learned over your lifetime? Many psychologists estimate we learn around 3,500 words a year between our first birthday and before we are 30. We grow from infants without language to chatterboxes with a gift for gab, and researchers are fascinated by how this happens.
Psychologists have different theories on language acquisition, or the process by which we learn to speak, write, or even use sign language in meaningful ways to communicate.
Theories of Language Acquisition
Behaviorists, like B.F. Skinner (who lived from 1904-1990), argued that language acquisition and development are learned behaviors. Behaviorists believe we learn by associating events, known as classical conditioning. We also learn through rewards and punishments, a process known as operant conditioning. Another aspect of behaviorism is that we learn by observation and imitation.
How do these theories of learning apply to language acquisition? Over repeated exposures, infants may learn to associate an object with a sound or word for that object. When an infant...

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