Comparing and Contrasting First and Second Language Acquisition

Ilda Poshi, Fjona Çukani


The ways in which an individual characteristically acquires, retains, and retrieves information in secondary language collectively term the individual’s learning ability. This paper will mainly treat the difference between a child and an adult language acquisition.Determining the difference between a child and an adult foreign language acquisition best depends on a number of variables: the learner’s age, aptitude, and motivation; the amount of time available for instruction; and the difference between the native and the foreign language. For young children, starting early can lead to mastery of a foreign language — with no long-term detriment to their grasp of English. Older students and adults, on the other hand, need a judicious mixture of practice and communication. We are looking at child first language acquisition and adult second language acquisition because they both seem most relevant to our lives right now – as college students who have most definitely mastered our first language at a young age, and are mostly likely attempting to master our second as adults. On the surface, one would look at child first language acquisition and adult second language acquisition and see similarities. The theory of Universal Grammar as developed in the tradition of generative grammar by Noam Chomsky was adopted. In each case, the learner first learns how to make basic sounds, then words, phrases and sentences; and as this learning continues the sentences become more and more complex. However, when one looks at the outcomes of these two types of acquisition, the differences are dramatic. The child's ability to communicate in the target language far surpasses that of the adult. In this paper differences in these two processes that most always produce such different outcomes will be explored.

DOI: 10.5901/mjss.2013.v4n10p56

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Mediterranean Journal of Social Sciences ISSN 2039-9340(Print) ISSN 2039-2117(Online)

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