Difference Between First Language and Second Language Acquisition
- November 22, 2022
- Posted by: Tasneem Ragab
- Category: Blog
The teacher needs to be closely aware of the difference between first language acquisition and language learning to understand the best way to teach a child, but what is the difference between language acquisition and language learning? Are there distinct characteristics of each of them?
What is language acquisition and how is it done?
Acquisition of language in a child is done automatically by picking it up in natural life situations, and this acquisition has characteristics.
What are the characteristics of language acquisition in children? Language acquisition has several characteristics, including:
The child acquires his mother tongue automatically, and formal education does not play an important role until the later stages of the child’s life.
A child acquires a huge amount of words by acquiring language.
The meanings and vocabulary of the words are related to the situation in which the child acquired these words.
Not all of the language that a child acquires is practiced, but rather part of a great asset that appears in certain situations.
Although the language that a child acquires from those around him may not be interconnected, he can understand and learn it!
What a child produces in a language is largely an imitation of what he hears, but not everything he produces is an imitation! A great deal of it is not a complete imitation of what it hears. It does many things; Including making changes between vocabulary and sentences, resulting in something different from what those around him are accustomed to, and issuing linguistic patterns that he had not heard before.
We can influence the child’s language by:
- Tell him whether what he says is true or false.
- Support his correct answers.
- Notice that what he says has an impact on the behavior of those around him.
At the end of the day, the language acquisition rate varies from one child to another.
Now that we know the meaning of language acquisition and some of its characteristics, then what is language learning?
What is language learning?
Language learning is the conscious process that an individual undertakes to learn a new language, such as learning Arabic for non-native speakers.
Is there a similarity between learning and acquiring?
Indeed, there are five similarities between language acquisition and learning: practice, imitation, understanding, ordering language skills, and learning grammar.
- Practice: language practice is a prerequisite for learning a language, whether it is first or second; As learning a language is only by forming habits that are repeated and practiced constantly.
- Imitation: Simulation plays a major role in a child’s mastery of his parents’ language. The sounds and words and the way those words are constructed when they are heard and imitated in the same way they were heard, all of this work to form the language faculty in the child.
The same helps in second language learning; Here, the importance of the linguistic model that is presented to the non-native learner of the Arabic language emerges.
- Comprehension: The child can understand spoken words even before he can use them, and the same applies to the second language learner, as he can understand words and expressions more than using them. The ability to express requires more and more complex skills than the ability to understand what is heard.
- The order of language skills: listening first, the child listens first and then imitates what he listens to, and the same applies to the second language learner.
The order of skills: listening, speaking, reading, writing. This does not mean that skills are to be dealt with separately, but in an integrative way.
- Learn grammar: the child uses language the way his parents use it. The child is unaware of the grammar of the language even though the language has a system and logic. An Arab child says, for example: “I ate an orange.” It does not concern him from the order of this sentence that eats: is a past verb), that (t) is a subject, and (orange) is the object of it. This is something he learns in the later stages of his linguistic development. The child uses language first, then knows its system and learns its logic.
The same applies to the second language learner; Where we should not shock him at the beginning by talking about grammar rules, which makes him alienated from the idea of learning itself. However, at the beginning of teaching Arabic to speakers of other languages, the focus should be to present them with the linguistic patterns they are familiar with and to establish the language in their minds.
After we know the differences between language acquisition and learning, as well as the similarities between them, do you think that there is a difference between teaching Arabic as a second language and teaching it as a first language to its people?
Teaching Arabic as a first and second language
Many teachers confuse teaching Arabic as a second language and teaching it as a first language for its people; Therefore, the teacher of Arabic for speakers of other languages should be aware of the differences between learning and teaching both the first and second languages. The confusion between them is detrimental to the educational process.
What are the differences between teaching Arabic as a first language and as a second language?
There are seven differences between learning Arabic as a first language and as a second language, and they are:
The motives for a child learning his language are internal, aiming to satisfy his needs and meet his demands, so learning the language for him is an indispensable thing. While the motives for learning a second language differ from one learner to another, they are external motives that may be religious, cultural, social, or economic. Learning a second language for its owner has secondary importance, he benefits from learning it and may not lose from ignorance of it.
The child learns the language in its environment and among the people who speak it, receives many vocabularies from them, learns correct structures, and understands accurate concepts, at a time when the foreigner is usually prevented from living in this environment.
One of the effects of learning a language outside its environment is the loss of the model that the learner imitates continuously. When learning languages, success depends on the availability of a good model from which the individual picks up the language and follows his example.
the difference in the time available to learn first and second languages; The child acquiring his language takes all his time learning, he does not worry too much if he does not understand a word as soon as he hears it, he is sure that he will hear it once or even times, unlike the second language learner where the time is limited to a certain number of hours each week, and this means that a whole year In second language learning it is approximately equal to a week of direct contact for the child when they acquire the first language.
What helps the child to learn the language is to practice it in situations of varying nature; Sometimes it is serious and at other times it is comical. While the foreigner is deprived of these opportunities to go out using the language in playing situations. When a foreigner learns Arabic, he learns from it what is commensurate with the seriousness of situations and the depth of his goals. He learns from Arabic what enables him to engage in commercial activity, contact with cultural heritage, practice religious rites, and other goals.
In his life, the child is exposed to uncontrollable, uncontrolled, and unplanned situations. All these situations require different linguistic contents, whether in their vocabulary, structures, or related concepts; Which leads to enriching the child’s language, expanding its circle, and deepening the semantics of the words. This is at a time when the foreigner is forced to have certain content distributed over varying periods, termed as levels, and whatever content is provided through any book to teach Arabic to speakers of other languages, will not be as wide, deep, and diverse as the linguistic content that the child is exposed to, which is He learns his mother tongue.
The child, while acquiring his first language, acquires it without a perception of previous language patterns and without knowledge of certain structures that interfere with what he learns for the first time. This is something a second language learner is denied. He learns it at the time when he has established in his mind the language of patterns and structures and has formed habits in their practice; This creates linguistic problems that vary between one student and another, and between one language and another.