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What Is the Process of Early Age Language Acquisition When Learning a Second Language?

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Acquiring a second language at an early age involves key processes and understanding. When a child first begins to learn a second language fundamental stages are recognized. The stages of acquisition can be progressively diagnosed through the characteristics in each field. When children are learning a second language they advance through each stage, while developing their knowledge of a new language the child uses principles and theories from their native tongue to aid in the acquisition.

Scholars have kept journals and diaries on children's speech development since the early century; a scientist by the name of Charles Darwin was one of the first. It was previously unknown how language was acquired and the methodology behind it. The invention of the portable tape recorder in the late 1950's made the study of this phenomenon possible. Methods of systematic analyzing in coherence with the study of psychology development led to an understanding. This way of study was further complimented by production tasks, comprehension tasks, and judgment tasks.

This aid from technology allowed scientist to come to the conclusion that "language acquisition begins very early in the human lifespan, and begins, logically enough, with the acquisition of a language's sound patterns." (Pinker) Patterns heard within the first year of acquiring a language form the correct "speech musculature and sensitivity" (Pinker) to form words and sentences. These main accomplishments of babies in their first year did not happen from depending on the correlation of sound with the definition of a word. Interestingly, the child achieves the ability to produce sound patterns before they produce words with meaning, therefore a child's first sounds do not refer to meaning. The brain of a child matures after birth giving it the ability to acquire language, this maturation period "governs the onset, rate, and adult decline of language acquisition." In addition to brain growth, processing abilities such as "attention, memory, short-term buffers for acoustic input and articulatory output" are possible factors in learning language (Pinker).

The acquisition of a second language is recognized by stages of development. Stage one is the production stage, the time frame for this period is approximately zero to six months. In this stage the language learner has minimal comprehension, no verbalization, nodding yes or no, and drawing or pointing (Alexandria 15). To further push the child's development teachers should provide questions of "show me...?", "circle the...?", "where is...?", and "who has...?" (Alexandria 15). Time frame six months to one year is known as the early production stage. The characteristics of this stage are limited comprehension, one or two word responses, participation using key words and familiar phrases, and using present tense verbs. The

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