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(Course Code : 5655)

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1.

Introduction 1.1 General Statement of the Problem How do you think a child acquires his/her first language? What do you think are the factors that help in acquisition of first language? 1.2 Purpose of the research Every child has to acquire his/her first language and this process is likely to be same in every child but some differences are there. So, with the help of this research, I have tried to find out the factors, affecting first language acquisition. 1.3 Review of Previous Research First-language acquisition is the process by which humans acquire the capacity to perceive and comprehend language, as well as to produce and use words and sentences to communicate. Language acquisition usually refers to first-language acquisition, which studies infants' acquisition of their native language. This is distinguished from second-language acquisition, which deals with the acquisition (in both children and adults) of additional languages. Most children acquire their first language without any formal instruction. Because no formal instruction is required, it is sometimes thought that learning a first language is not very difficult. The notion that a first language is easy to learn is, of course, false. In fact, it is arguably the most complex learning task humans accomplish during their lifetimes. The complexities involved in learning language are most readily seen in children who have difficulty learning language. The basic capacity to learn language is innate, while the particular form/meaning connections of individual languages are acquired through

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prolonged exposure to a specific speech community. Children must learn language by imitating their parents. For example Children of French-speaking parents speak French. Although imitation is involved in language acquisition but there is a lot more to it than just imitation. A child first becomes aware of a concept, such as relative size, and only afterward do they acquire the words and patterns to convey that concept. Simple ideas are expressed earlier than more complex ones even if they are grammatically more complicated. Conditional mood is one of the last. Yet no one has been able to explain how quickly and perfectly all children acquire their first language. Every language is extremely complex, full of subtle distinctions that speakers are not even aware of. Nevertheless, children master their first language in 5 or 6 years regardless of their other talents and general intellectual ability. Acquisition must certainly be more than mere imitation; it also doesn't seem to depend on levels of general intelligence, since even a severely retarded child will acquire a native language without special training. Some innate feature of the mind must be responsible for the universally rapid and natural acquisition of language by any young child exposed to speech. Some language acquisition must certainly be due to simple repetition: greetings, swear words; much of it is not. A three year old child generally can recall and use a new word heard once even months afterward and yet, so far, no properties have been discovered that are truly universal in all languages. Although there are many differences in parent-child interaction patterns around the world, virtually all normally developing children become language

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users at the same rate. The way children learn language follows a specific pattern and is inherently systemic in nature. It is clear that children must be exposed to language and be able to interact with others, but how that exposure and interaction occur is extremely variable. Even though young children are not formally taught language, language acquisition is part of the overall development of children physically, socially, and cognitively. There is strong evidence that children may never acquire a language if they have not been exposed to a language before they reach the age of 6 or 7. Children between the ages of 2 and 6 acquire language so rapidly that by 6 they are competent language users. By the time children are of school-age, they have amazing language ability; it is a seemingly effortless acquisition Language is also an important way for us to make sense out of our past experience, to learn from it, and to make it comprehensible. In the beginning, childrens language growth comes from their direct experience. It is personal and related to the present. As their language understanding grows, children can relate to ever more expanding situations. This early language experience is necessary to be able to use language symbols apart from actual situations. Children use language metaphorically, providing evidence that for children language is creative as well as imitative. For children, language is a powerful tool for understanding the world around them. By questioning, children become active in their attempt to comprehend and learn. Children are constantly modifying their speech depending on their audience. An example of this behavior is when children modify their speech

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when talking to younger children. As children develop their ability to use language, they become more and more understanding of social situations and learn how to control their own actions and thoughts. Children discover the grammar of their language based on their own inborn grammar. Certain aspects of language structure seem to be preordained by the cognitive structure of the human mind. This accounts for certain very basic universal features of language structure: every language has nouns/verbs, consonants and vowels. It is assumed that children are pre-programmed, hardwired, to acquire such things. There is a "sensitive period" of language acquisition in which human infants have the ability to learn any language. This plasticity is whittled down as a child becomes exposed to the specific sounds and structure of his or her language environment, and so, the child quickly becomes a native speaker of that language. According to the sensitive or critical period models, the age at which a child acquires the ability to use language is a predictor of how well he or she is ultimately able to use language. However, there may be an age at which becoming a fluent and natural user of a language is no longer possible. Our brains may be automatically wired to learn languages, but this ability does not last into adulthood in the same way that it exists during development. By the onset of puberty (around age 12), language acquisition has typically been solidified and it becomes more difficult to learn a language in the same way a native speaker would At this point, it is usually a second language that a person is trying to acquire and not a first. Researchers are unable to experimentally test

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the effects of the sensitive period of development on language acquisition, because it would be unethical to deprive children of language until this period is over. However, case studies on abused, language deprived children show that they were extremely limited in their language skills, even after instruction. Formal stages of language are shown in Appendix A.

2.

Research Methodology 2.1 Nature of the Research The nature of my research is exploratory and I have selected case study for this purpose. 2.2 Research Design I have selected 04 samples for case study. All the four children are of different ages and I have mentioned all observations / factors, which I have found during this research. 2.3 Research Tools / Data Analysis Hence I have selected 04 samples of children having very small ages, i.e one year to seven years, so questionnaires and interviews were not suitable therefore, I have got observations, while performing this research. Moreover, all of these are luckily my offspring so my case study havent limited to this particular time period provided for course research report but since their birth to date, I have got experiences and observations while describing the different aspects of first language acquisition.

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3.

Brief Description of Case Study 3.1 Case-I (a) Brief Introduction My first case is a male-child of seven years old. He is my elder son. He is studying in Class II. He is intelligent and social. (b) Observations My first child has full command at his first language as well as at foreign language (English) according to his age group. Here I must state that Urdu can be our first language but English is not our second language because in our society most of people have to acquire / learn at least four to five languages followed by their first language which is of course their native / regional language. Then Urdu is our national language and widely used for communication purposes. So a child has to learn this language. Then majority of our population is Alhamdu lillah Muslims, so we have to learn (at least reading) Arabic as per our religious needs. Then at the end English stands, which is our official language and educational needs are also enhance its existence. (c) Factors affecting on His language acquisition (i) Experience and Interaction I have observed that first child in the family has given more attention and affiliations from his parents so due to motivation and positive re-enforcement, his first language acquisition process may accomplish promptly.

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(ii)

Social Skills and Styles The learners social skills and styles are also

important to language learning. He (Case-I) is naturally social and he has given lots of opportunity to interact positively with his parents.

3.2

Case-II (a) Brief Introduction My second case is a female-child of six years old. She is my elder daughter. She is studying in Class I. She is less intelligent as compare to my son (Case-I). (b) Observations She is just one year younger to first child but an obvious difference is noted and according to my views the main reason is only due to less concentration / affiliation as compare to elder one so she is comparatively less confident and rather having less command on first language acquisition, but here I must say that this is not a universal theory but just based on my personal observations, particularly to these two children which were under my observations. Otherwise, some cases are also noted in which more attention towards a child adversely affected his/her first language acquisition because due to over attention or love, he/she

becomes less active and he/she havent got much language practice by him/herself so in the result he/she can face language disorder issues.

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(c)

Factors affecting on her language acquisition (i) Diversion of Parents attention towards other children She (Case-II) hasnt got much attention as compare to first child. She is just one year younger to her brother, so parents attention / affiliation were distributed among these two children. Ignorance to any child or less attention can become a negative factor for his/her mental as well as emotional growth so it can also affect first language acquisition. (ii) Interaction with same age groups children Although she (Case-II) is not as much efficient in acquisition of first language as compare to Case-I but she has got the opportunity of full time interaction with same age group child (his brother-Case-I), so interaction with same age groups children can positively affect the first language acquisition.

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Case-III (a) Brief Introduction My third case is a female-child of three years old. She is my second daughter. Although she is active and physically / mentally fit but her first language acquisition is not progressing as per previous experiences or compare to other cases (Case-I, II and IV)

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(b)

Observations She is almost different to her siblings. She cannot clearly speak or

express her feelings in fluent language yet. As compare to her elder brother and sister and even her younger sister who is just one year old, she is not improving fluency in language expression as per past experiences. In some cases, medical problems can also affect the first language acquisition, so I have contacted with ENT Specialist for getting his opinion but Al-hamdulillah he told that no such disorder has found in her. According to my opinion, she is not given much imitation / repetition practices due to splitting of family concentration towards other children as well. Although it is noticed that a child who has siblings (brothers and sisters) of his/her age group, can acquire first language more easily as compare to that child, who hasnt brothers and sisters of same age group. (c) Factors affecting on her language acquisition (i) Biological difference Although first language acquisition is almost same in every child but biological differences can matter. She (Case-III) is naturally slow learner, so her first language acquisition is affected. (ii) Imitation / repetition practices She is not given imitation / repetition practices due to diversion of parents attention towards other children. Although she has luckily got same age group siblings but due to their studies, she hasnt got much time / affiliation from them.

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3.4

Case-IV (a) Brief Introduction My fourth case is a female-child of one year old. She is my youngest daughter. She is much active as compare to her brother and sisters (Case-I, II and III) (b) Observations My youngest daughter (Case-IV) is much active and she is babbling and imitating the simple words like names of her brother and sisters, while she is calling to someone. (Which are of course not as much clear as her age is so less and accuracy of words is impossible at such a minor age but we can clearly differentiate her words) She has luckily find huge friendly environment as well as same age group siblings for grooming and promptly acquiring her first language in a positive way. (c) Factors affecting on her language acquisition (i) Learning exercise She (Case-IV) has an opportunity to interact with her age group children, so she has given more learning exercises, which positively affect her first language acquisition and she is efficiently progressing. (ii) Attention / Positive re-enforcement She is youngest child in the family, so attention of parents as well as her siblings is positive re-enforcement for her first language acquisition.

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4.

Findings My case study on 04 children of different ages reveals that first language acquisition is most complex learning task that humans accomplish during their lifetimes. Children of same age group as well as same environment (as I have selected all children of same family) having differences, while acquiring first language acquisition. Parent-child interaction and friendly / encouraging environment is very important in this process. Sometimes biological differences can also affects first language acquisition.

5.

Conclusions (a) Attention / affiliation of parents as well as siblings can provide positive reenforcement for first language acquisition of a child. (b) Learning exercises (Repetition and Imitation) positively affect first language acquisition. (c) In case of large family size parents attention / affiliation could be distributed among children and all children cannot get much attention, as they required so ignorance to any child or less attention can become a negative factor for his/her mental as well as emotional growth so it can also affect first language acquisition. (d) The learners social skills and styles are important to first language acquisition. (e) Childs interaction with same age group children can also enhance this

process.

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(f)

Although first language acquisition is almost same in every child but biological differences can matter.

6.

Suggestions for Further Studies / Research Children at early ages (from 01 year to 5 years) need more attention and affiliation from their parents and friendly / motivated environment can enhance their abilities to acquire first language. I have observed another fact (which is not associated with my case study) that those children whose parents doesnt allow open / friendly environment for language acquisition, must faced language disorder problems in future e.g fluency and accuracy of language can be affected. I am suggesting the research to find out that how first language acquisition is adversely affected in case of ignorance of children by their parents. Experimental Method can be suitable for this research.

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7.

Appendices 7.1 Appendix A Formal Stages of language Language Stage Crying Cooing Babbling Intonation Patterns 1-word utterances 2-words utterances Word utterances Questions, negatives Rare or complex constructions Mature Speech Beginning Age Birth 6 Weeks 6 Months 8 Months 1 Year 18 Months (1 Years) 2 Years 2 Years 5 Years 10 Years

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7.2

Appendix B Table: Observation of Language Acquisition Stages During Case Study Language Stage Crying Cooing Babbling Intonation Patterns 1-word utterances Case-I Birth 5 Weeks 6 Months 7 months 1 Year Case-II Birth 6 Weeks 7 Month 8 months 1 Year Case-III Birth 6 Weeks 7 Month 9 months 14 months Case-IV Birth 5 Weeks 5 Months 7 Months 11 months

Note: Hence the Case-IV is youngest one (One year old) so I have presented comparison of one year language acquisition stages in all four children.

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8.

References 8.1 Kuhl PK (September 2010). "Brain mechanisms in early language acquisition". 8.2 Hickok G, Poeppel D (2004). "Dorsal and ventral streams: a framework for understanding aspects of the functional anatomy of language". 8.3 Pickering MJ, Ferreira VS (May 2008). "Structural priming: a critical review". 8.4 Terrell, B., Schwartz, R., & Prelock, P. (l984). Symbolic play in normal and language-impaired children. Journal of Speech and Hearing Research, 8.5 Siegel, G., & Broen, P. (l976). Language assessment. In L. Lloyd (Ed.), Communication, assessment and intervention strategies. Baltimore:

University Park Press. 8.6 Morley, M. (1957). The development and disorders of speech in childhood. Edinburgh: E. & S. Livingston, Ltd.

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