Second Language Acquisition: Nature And Nurture Debate Essay Examples
The ability that different individuals have in acquiring language is of serious controversy. This is due to the little understanding and numerous controversies surrounding language acquisition. However, the ability to learn a second language has been associated by numerous factors. These factors are significantly attributed to nature; this is because human beings, unlike other species, are more evolved and have an advanced learning capacity. Other controversies surrounding second language acquisition are based on nurture. This is based on the environment that an individual is exposed to during their childhood or the environment exposed to while learning a second language. This essay will evaluate the various factors that influence second language acquisition. The analysis under evaluation will be based on the role that nature and nurture plays in second language acquisition.
Linguistics classify language as a unique human characteristic, this is based on the role that language plays in enhancing communication. Language is easily acquired; the uniqueness of language is based on its relevance in the ability to act fast. Children are known to acquire language at an earlier stage where they learn it from their parents. Children at the age of five are said to have acquired an average of 6 thousand words (Chen, 2014). These words are acquired from the parents and people surrounding them at this early age. However, the second language acquisition has caused a lot of interest due to the reasons that surround its acquisition. Numerous debates have been experienced regarding the factors that attribute to the acquisition of second languages.
The major factor that is attributed to second language acquisition through nature is nativism, which is innate. This belief is driven by the idea that the human brain is unique; therefore, it can pick up a language that it is not accustomed to. This is through proper interactions with individuals whom they are learning the language from and use the language. Numerous theories have been developed where the evaluations are solely based on the different principles that affect the acquisition by nature. Through the theories that have been developed to support the significance and the different principles of acquisition through nature, it is stated that it is difficult to acquire a universal language through nurture (Clark, 2009). This is evaluation is based on the complexity that universal languages may have thus affecting acquisition. The need to acquire a second language through nature is also contributed to the ability of the brain to learn where there is survival for the fittest where the brain is forced to create a faculty to facilitate learning. The ability of people to create and produce language is evident through the various cultures in the world where each culture has a unique language.
Nurture as a factor that influences language acquisition is supported by the fact that the human brain has the capacity to learn diverse things. Human beings are also known to be social beings, therefore, the ability to learn a second language is made favorable through such factors. Psychologists who believe that the human brain has advanced capacity to learn new languages support this notion. Nurture as a factor that influences language acquisition is also supported by the fact whereby human beings are known to be social, through this, it is clear that people have the ability to learn (Edwards, & Zampini, 2008). Language acquisition through nurture is driven by the benefits that the acquisition of diverse languages may have on an individual. The benefits are evident through the efforts that diverse individuals have put to language acquisition through nurture.
Through properly analyzing both factors, it will be clear that language acquisition is influenced by nature and nurture in seemingly almost equal measures. This is because most human behavior is affected both nature and environmental aspects. It would be correct to state that genetics, which are in this term nature, create the capacity to learn and develop communication. On the other hand, social upbringing that is associated with environmental factors, which, is nurture influence acquisition. It clear that both nature and nurture aspects affect language acquisition.
Evaluation in this paper will be based on the input that children acquire from their parents, which are in this instance influenced by nature. This is significant input since it is acquired at an early age where the ability to learn is very high (Flege, Yeni-Komshian, & Liu, 1999). It is evident that parents who are accustomed to a wide range of languages are likely to give advanced language input to a child. This is unlike parents who are only limited to one language; it is clear that the child will have limited input putting them at a disadvantage.
Based on the nurture perspective, second language acquisition is easily acquired after the critical period. This is possible through input from parents and people who surround them after the critical period; the critical period in this instance is during early childhood development. Through nurture, language acquisition is facilitated through the willingness of the child or individual to learn and produce the language. The amount of input that an individual gets through nurture also affects the second language acquired. It is important to acknowledge that both factors influence the ability to acquire a second language.
The critical period plays an essential role in language acquisition in a child. This is because there is a cut-off period, which is around the age of twelve years. It is during the cut-off period that a child may lack the ability to learn a new language. The brain is fully developed whereby language acquisition may become a strain. The critical period is quite important due to the significance it has in language acquisition. This is because, at the critical period, it is then that a child is developing whereby they are in a position to grasp a certain second language easily. This kind of acquisition is termed to be under nature. This is because it is during the critical period that children are in constant interactions with the parents. Through such factors, it is inevitable to state that, it is the input that the parents put in children, that influences, and affects their ability to learn. It is also important to acknowledge that it is during the critical period as children are being brought up that they can pick up different responses from parents. This is common in situations where a child may be crying, and a parent reacts in a certain way and through certain words. Through such constant reactions from the parents, it is likely that a child will pick up a few words based on how their parents react. Various statistics have proven that second language acquisition is made easier if it is done during the critical period. Other factors support the need for second language acquisition during the critical period. Such factors include fluency, through diverse analysis that have been conducted; it has been established that children who learn second languages during the critical period are fluent speakers (Gardner, 2010). This is because; it is during this period, that they are capable of fully understanding any language, which they may be taking up. People who may have learnt their second language during the critical period are known to be very fluent in the diverse languages that they may speak. The amount of vocabulary that a child who acquired a second language during the critical period is likely to be advanced. This is due to the language that they may have picked up from the parents whom they acquire the language. Such children are also in a position to compose grammatically correct questions. This is because parents in an environment have brought them up where they are exposed to a proper secondary language. It is during the early development stage also referred to as the critical stage that a child is likely to learn a secondary language (Jordan, 2004). The accuracy and the competence of the language acquired are likely to be more advanced compared to a language acquired in various stages. This is due to the development stage where the brain develops to a point where if older it may be almost impossible to learn a particular language. Older people are not in a proper position to entirely grasp a second language. This is due to the development of their brain where they may not be in a position to understand a second language entirely. Through the evaluation that has been provided in reference to the acquisition of second language during the critical stage, it is clear that that the input from parents is of significance. Therefore, it is important to ensure that if possible children acquire the second language during the critical stage as established through his evaluation.
Second language acquisition is at an advantage if the parents can speak a second language rather than just the mother tongue. This is because parents are in a better position to educate their child on a second language. This is due to the influence that parents have on a child in relation to learning. Statistics and linguistics have proven that children who are brought up in an environment where the parents are conversant in a second language are likely to be more competent in the language. This is because communication is enhanced where there is proper dialogue that is conducted in the particular language. Both listening and speaking plays a major role in language acquisition. This is because it is through speaking that a child is enabled to exercise the words that they have heard in dialogues. Dialogues among parents are also essential in advancing the input that a child gets. This is because it is through dialogue that there is communication where they is the exchange of different words. Through this, a child is in a position to pick different vocabulary while at the same time improving on their ascent and dialogue. The ascent and word pronunciation is attained through the words that that they hear their parents speak. If a parent is capable of not capable of communicating in any second language, it will be impossible to give any input to the child other than the mother tongue. Furthermore, the secondary input is also influenced through the capacity that a parent has in communicating through a particular language. Therefore, it is clear that a parent who lacks competence in a secondary language is likely to pass inappropriate language to the children. This has been noted in children who may have learnt their second language from parents who are not well conversant with the language. If a child happens to acquire the wrong input from parents during development, it is a challenge to change. This is because they are likely to become accustomed to what they had learned. This is because after the critical stage, it may be difficult to change what they have already been taught (Klein, 1986). Such cases have resulted in incompetence where there is poor communication. Children who undergo such instances develop poor speech, vocabulary and grammar. There is a difference in acquisition of a secondary language. This based on the input that they get as children. As evidently shown though this study, it is essential to ensure that babies get the right input in order not to ruin their secondary language.
Language acquisition after the critical period can be quite tricky; this is due to the complication that is associated with development. This is in the essence that if a child’s brain is already developed, there is the possibility that it will be difficult to acquire a language. This is due to the development of the brain where the language acquisition part may be fully developed making it difficult or impossible to acquire a secondary language. Critical periods are mostly in relation to learning experiences in schools, which mostly are after brain development, which is at the age of twelve. In such instances, it has been noted that if a child manages to acquire a secondary language after the critical period, it is likely that it may be in correct. This evaluation is based on different statistics, which have established that children after the critical stage strain to acquire the desired secondary language. Language acquisition from parents after the critical stage may also be tricky. This is also associated with the complete development of the brain. Learning secondary languages from the parents may be more reliable. This is due to the influence that a parent may have on children. Children are known to pick up easily language from their parents compared to other sources (Snow, & Hoefnagel-Höhle, 1978). Through statistics that has been provided, it is evident that parents are in a suitable position to pass secondary language to children. This statistics has been established based on the competence of children among other individuals to acquire a second language from parents while past the critical stage. There are a number of changes that have been associated with language acquisition, after the critical stage; these changes are mainly associated with the fluency and grammar. The quality of language acquired differs based on the mode of acquisition (Barron-Hauwaert, 2004). The language acquired after the critical stage is likely to be more competent if acquired from parents rather than acquisition from a learning institution. This is because parents set a good foundation that enables the children to continue effectively learning the language in class. Based on the analysis it is important that there is a firm foundation set at home by the parents before going to class, this will ensure that there is proper language acquisition after the critical stage.
There are a number of differences associated with second language acquisition after the critical stage and during the second stage. The differences are evaluated based on diverse factors. Acquisition during the critical stage is solely based on characteristics such as implicit. This is where there are no qualifications required in order to acquire a particular secondary language. This unlike in learning that is done after the critical stage where it explicit where there are requirements. There is the need to be aware of numerous factors such as the sub-consciousness that influences acquisition during the critical stage is recognized as a difference. The consciousness is what is associated with the language acquisition after the critical stage. A major difference that also affects acquisition is the situation that surrounds acquisition is the situation. Acquisition from the parents is by informal situations while learning acquisition is through formal situations. Acquisition through parents is associated with grammatical restrictions that are associated with feelings rather than rules (Patkowski, 1980). In class, it is important to note that the restriction in secondary acquisition is through grammatical rule; this is because classes are formal situations. Attitude is also a factor that influences acquisition through parents; this is because parents have no strict rules regarding acquisition. Aptitude, on the other, hand is a factor that influences acquisition through learning in a class.
Through the argument that has been provided, it is clear that there are a number of factors that influence second language acquisition. The analysis shows that nature has significant role in language acquisition. This has been established through numerous factors that include the critical period. The critical period is a delicate stage where a child is developing and can acquire easily a second language. This is unlike during further stages of development where the brain may be fully developed making acquisition difficult. The competence of children is in learning is greatly influenced by nature. This evaluation is based on the quality of language that a child acquires. Children who acquire a secondary language during the critical stage and through parents are likely to have fluent and grammatically correct language. This is evident through statistics where it has been proven that the children who learn a language at this period are competent in the acquired language.
It also in evitable to state that nurture affects language through the various factors that have been established in the paper. This is because environmental factors are part if nurture and greatly influence acquisition. This is based on the input that the children get during the diverse stages of development. The right input through nurture goes a long way in ensuring that there is proper language acquisition. There are numerous differences associated with various modes of acquisition. Based on the evaluations that have been provided, it is clear that nature and nurture affect second language acquisition. Through proper analyzing these factors, it will be possible to have knowledge regarding the factors that influence language acquisition.
Barron-Hauwaert, S. (2004). Language strategies for bilingual families: The one-parent-one-language approach. Buffalo: Multilingual Matters.
Chen, J. (2014). Breaking through the traditional second language learning model-- exploring different exposure approaches for learners of different ages (Order No. AAI3566181). Available from PsycINFO. (1520897896; 2014-99080-143).
Clark, E. V. (2009). First language acquisition. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Edwards, J. G. H., & Zampini, M. L. (2008). Phonology and second language acquisition. Amsterdam: J. Benjamins Pub.
Flege, J. E., Yeni-Komshian, G. H., & Liu, S. (1999). Age constraints on second-language acquisition. Journal of memory and language, 41(1), 78-104.
Gardner, R. C. (2010). Motivation and second language acquisition: The socio-educational model. New York: Peter Lang.
Jordan, G. (2004). Theory construction in second language acquisition. Amsterdam: J. Benjamins.
Klein, W. (1986). Second language acquisition. Cambridge University Press.
Patkowski, M. S. (1980). The Sensitive Period For The Acquisition Of Syntax In A Second Language 1. Language learning, 30(2), 449-468.
Snow, C. E., & Hoefnagel-Höhle, M. (1978). The critical period for language acquisition: Evidence from second language learning. Child development, 1114-1128.
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