Second-Language Acquisition in Childhood: Preschool Children - Vol. 1

By Barry McLaughlin | Go to book overview

2 First-Language Acquisition

I do not attempt in this chapter the rather Gargantuan task of surveying what is known about the child's acquisition of a first language. The amount of information that has accumulated, especially in the last two decades, is formidable. Furthermore, excellent accounts of first-language acquisition exist elsewhere (especially Brown, 1973a; Lindfors, 1980). The aim is a more modest one: to provide background and perspective for the discussion that follows in subsequent chapters of the child's acquisition of a second language.

This chapter has four sections. First, I examine different ways of looking at the language acquisition process and at the skills that the child is thought to bring to this task. Then I turn to a consideration of just what it is that the child must accomplish in order to acquire a language. A discussion of the linguistic environment of the child language learner follows. Finally, a brief overview is presented of the developmental stages characteristic of first- language acquisition.


THE CHILD'S LINGUISTIC CAPACITIES

Descriptions of the language development process and of the child's linguistic capabilities differ depending on the epistemological stance one adopts. Usually a distinction is drawn between the rationalist and the empiricist positions. The rationalist regards cognitive abilities as given. Experience does not teach directly; it activates an innate capacity. We know the world as we do, because we are biologically structured to know it in this

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Second-Language Acquisition in Childhood: Preschool Children - Vol. 1
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Child Psychology ii
  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Preface ix
  • Acknowledgments xiii
  • 1 - Bilingualism in Society 1
  • 2 - First-Language Acquisition 12
  • 3 - Language Learning in Childhood and Adulthood 45
  • 4 - Simultaneous Acquisition of Two Languages in Childhood 72
  • 5 - Successive Acquisition of Two Languages in Childhood 101
  • 6 - Individual Differences and Language Learning Strategies 136
  • 7 - The Effects of Early Bilingualism 177
  • 8 - Conclusion 215
  • References 233
  • Author Index 253
  • Subject Index 259
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