First vs. second language acquisition

Language acquisition is a complex unconscious process and there are many nature vs. nurture theories as to how we actually acquire a first language. Suffice to say there are stages to natural language acquisition, as babies we listen to sounds and start to produce single words, then combined words, use morphemes, work out syntax, then build and refine vocabulary and grammar while all the while improving our fluency and proficiency.

Second language learning is usually an intentional process, and learned based on the supposed command of a first language that accompanies the learner. Acquisition does, however follow a similar pattern of

  • Preproduction: absorb new language through listening
  • Early production: absorb new language, produce short words and sentences
  • Speech emergence: produce longer sentences on familiar topics, use more vocabulary,make less errors
  • Intermediate fluency: speak fairly fluent in social or regular situations, can analyze and offer an opinion, new situations are problematic, there are language gaps
  • Advanced fluency: communicate fluently (with an accent) on most subjects with occasional idiomatic mistakes

If you’re learning a second language and want to get to the next step, be it advanced fluency or speech emergence; check out our tips on how to improve language fluency.

maka language consulting

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