How do children learn their mother tongue
If you want to learn a foreign language, you need to have good command of your
There is no doubt that babies and toddlers learn a language in a different way
than do adults. Until the late 1950's, behavioral researchers were of the
opinion that babies are born without any linguistic disposition. As a result of
further examinations, it became clear that acquiring a language as well as
acquiring human behavior is based on stimulus-response mechanisms. If the child
frequently gets in touch with these stimuli and is encouraged, he will learn to
repeat the sounds that have triggered a positive reaction in a similar
situation. Does this mean,through
the eyes of the behavioral researchers, that second language acquisition
concentrates on learning certain language patterns by heart?
One of the
most convincing arguments against this theory of children's language
acquisition is: If children could only learn a language by imitating sounds,
they were only able to use words and sentences that they have heard before.
However, babies and toddlers use real words and structures to create new words.
As a result of this, researchers came to the conclusion that babies have the
ability to acquire language from birth on. The researcher Chomsky has shown
that each human being has a disposition to develop language. By seeing how
language is used, children finally learn to use it themselves.
Further information on this topic:
- Thielen, Melanie. "The Teaching of Short-Term English Courses for German Youths in Great Britain - A Neglected Field of Study: Guidelines for the Teacher." Diplomarbeit
am Fachbereich Angewandte Sprach- und Kulturwissenschaft der Johannes Gutenberg-Universität
Mainz in Germersheim, 1996.