Language Acquisition Essay

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How do children acquire language? What are the processes of language acquisition? How do infants respond to speech? Language acquisition is the process of learning a native or a second language. Although how children learn to speak is not perfectly understood, most explanations involve both the observations that children copy what they hear and the inference that human beings have a natural aptitude for understanding grammar. Children usually learn the sounds and vocabulary of their native language through imitation, (which helps them learn to pronounce words correctly), and grammar is seldom taught to them, but instead that they rapidly acquire the ability to speak grammatically. Though, not all children learn by imitation alone. Children…show more content…
Siegler (1998) there are four main components to language acquisition. These components are phonology, semantics (meaning), grammar (syntax), and communication (pragmatics). Phonology is the study of how speech sounds are organized and how they function. It is the main linguistic accomplishment during the first year of life. The phonology of language refers to fundamental sounds units and the rules for combining them. Each language has a certain number of sounds called phonemes. Phonemes are the smallest unit of sound that affects the meaning of a word. Infants are able to identify hundreds of variations of sounds. For example, an infant who is 6 months old can detect the difference between “ma” and “pa”. According to Siegler (1998), “most children do not gain full phonological competence until roughly school age”(p. 147). An infant’s first year is mainly receiving messages but also working on being able to produce messages. As they physically develop, infants form the ability to make sounds. Some of these initial sounds are cooing, vowel-like utterances occasionally accompanied by consonants and babbling, which are consonant-vowel combinations (Siegler, 1998). During the first 6 months of life, physiological changes, such as the shape of oral cavity, tongue development, motor control of lips, and tooth eruption, also take place that contribute to speech development. One of the infant’s tasks is to identify phonemes or the
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