Chapter I First and second language acquisition in children 13
13 CHAPTER ONE FIRST AND SECOND LANGUAGE ACQUISITION IN CHILDREN The aim of this chapter is to characterize the process of language learning by children as opposed to adolescents or adults. The chapter begins with an over- view of the main approaches to first and second language acquisition. It contin- ues with the descriptions of the theories explaining the child’s cognitive, emo- tional and social development. Next, the role of age in SLA is discussed in terms of empirical studies, and in terms of neurological, psychomotor, cognitive, af- fective and linguistic factors. The chapter finishes with some practical implica- tions for teaching children which stem from the way they learn the target lan- guage. 1.1 Theories explaining first and second language acquisition 1.1.1 The behaviourist view Behaviourism is a school in general psychology which became dominant in edu- cational psychology from 1940s to 1960s and was also applied to language learning. It was represented by Pavlov in Russia and by Watson, Thorndike and Skinner in the USA. The term behaviourism was coined by Watson (1913, 1924), who postulated that only observable human behaviour can be the subject of scientific enquiry. In the behaviourist view, all learning, including language learning, is construed as a process of habit formation. A learning habit is formed if a particular response is connected with a particular stimulus. In contrast to in- ner mental processes, habits are observable, automatic, and difficult to eradicate unless the stimuli with which they are associated are no longer provided. How-...
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