Reaction paper


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Reaction paper

  1. 1. During several ages, mankind have been interested in mental processes such as thinkingand learning, and one of the most important of this processes is related to language and howit is learned. Many scientists have tried to understand this with very different methods, yetthe most remarkable one has to do with observation. Watching and recording, in addition toresearch of other peoples work, have resulted in the understanding of several differentlanguage features. This is what Pinker, in his First Language Acquisition did. Most of theresearch of Pinker is based on studies of other famous scientists; many of them fromdifferent areas (Psychology, Sociology, Anthropology, etc) proving that if it is languagerelated, the horizons of an investigation should be abroad and not stay in one line. The mostwe get interested in language, the most we discover about it. Language study is not a closedfield. This means that, as well as language, the way how learning processes occur is also inconstant changing. Of course, not as fast as language, but different communicationmediums also means different ways of comprehend and produce. How the languagechanges, and how this changes are evident in childrens acquisition of it is the main point ofthis author and his research. In the following paragraphs, a short analysis of the chapters 1and 2 of the Pinkers book First Language Acquisition will be shown. The first chapter discusses the first language acquisition from five different fields(Psychology, Sociology, Anthropology, Education, and Linguistics) divided into threeareas: the child, the environment, and language. The first area is analyzed from psychology,based on Researchers who focus on the child during the first 7 to 18 months, and call it, thisperiod as Early Language Development. Researchers as Rice (2002), Lindfors (1987),Pinker (1994) present us the idea of using cognitive skills in the ability to learn a languagewith which children are in constant interaction, (food, clothing, body parts, toys, etc..),which allow their to evolve from the use of an one-word, to use of two-words, with whichchildren express complex ideas how "I want my milk", saying only milk, that leads togreater complexity. And it includes the first understanding of syntax. The second area isanalyzed from sociology, anthropology and education, in this area are Researchers asHymes (1970), Heath (1983), Wells (1986), and Goodman (1990) based on the idea thatchildren develop the ability to understand and produce language, because language is thebasis of social interaction, for which they need communication skills that allow their to use
  2. 2. language in a social context. Finally, the last area of the first chapter is analyzed from thelinguistics that focuses on the nature of language and whose main researcher is Chomskywho raises the need to develop a theory of language, before a theory of languageacquisition, and gives us the theory of generative grammar, which describes the languagethrough a series of rules that can be applied to generate sentences that make up thelanguage and developed in greater depth, through the universal grammar.On chapter 2, oneof the most important ideas related to the acquisition of language is the fact that childrenlearn the language to which they are exposed and they do not have an inner relationshipwith any kind of language, not even the one that the mother speaks. Yet, the relationshipbetween an infant and language has to do with environmental factors, such as the languageto a subject is exposed. How children interact with this language, for instance, after theylearn that certain words determine what they can get from the people who surround them,are known as operant conditioning (Skinner), and explain how children acquire the abilityof connect ideas, in order to ask or say different things for different purposes. Also, amongdifferent approaches, the way that this phenomenon occurs is explained. Childrencomprehend and produce, but not necessarily in the correct way. What the author explainsis that children might hear a structure and understand it, but produce an incorrect structureeven after they have just heard the correct one (W. R. Miller) Finally, one of the mostimportant features of language learning is imitation. Its strategies, such as echoing andrepetition, are the base of learning after the recognition of characteristics of a language, anduse of it in order to make effective communication. The most we imitate, practice and try toproduce, the better our learning processes become. In Chapter 1, we believe the emphasis is on understanding, how the language developsand is part of our lives from birth, giving us the impression that the human being born withthe skills to learn and take on the language, skills that are developing and evolve over ourlives and allows us to understand its usefulness and importance, and its complexity, but inturn becoming more easy to obtain and understandable to us. Also raised us and focuses onthe factors involved in the process of language learning, making it clear and emphasizingthat things should be clear that to understand the language, and we must not only focus onthe child, or the environment, or language separately as the only way to explain language
  3. 3. acquisition, if we want to understand the role that each factor or area plays in the study oflanguage, because otherwise it will make difficult to understand the ideas presented bydifferent Researchers in this chapter. the Researchers in this chapter suggest us, thatlanguage is not learned only by imitation, or as a result of stimuli and responses, we mustunderstand that it goes further and it relates to the fact that people can communicate, andhave the tools and skills necessary to do, we also need to understand what language is andits functionality through the linguistics, allowing us to better get the language. AboutChapter 2, we think that Pinkers emphases on environmental aspects of language are anexcellent way of explaining this phenomenon. The examples provided by the author arecommon aspects of real life, and have happened to most of us. The way how Pinker dealswith reality, in addition to the profound analysis of language features are amusing. It is notthe usual boring texts which while you are reading it, you start to criticize and you try tofocus it, or contextualize it in order to make it more interesting. The evidence provided bythe author, is also very good. Examples of well known researchers such as Skinner orPiaget, among others, give us the sense of an excellent and very useful for our careersreading. The detailed way in which Pinker explains different language phenomena leavesalmost no empty space, or open questions. But actually, there is something that Pinkermissed in his research and is the neurological aspects of language acquisition. Themovements of the brain or the different parts of it that are involved in learning a languagewould be an interesting topic too. Hopefully, after the time we have left in our ESLteaching program, some of us will feel inspired to continue on researching for new aspectsof language learning. Learn, for example, why some children take more time to starttalking, or why some children talk in a different way even though the language to whichthey are exposed is more or less the same. The first language acquisition is a topic where, we can find several theories in order toexplain how to obtain, and because it is so important, for us the importance lies in theability to analyze and relate the various theories proposed by the researchers in order toreach a consensus and seek a better understanding of how we acquire language. Throughthe different chapters, we find different points of views, that focus on explaining the factorsthat must be taken into account, in order that, we as teachers will be able to build a base of
  4. 4. knowledge required about the different ways and language acquisition proposals; Chapter 1shows us the acquisition of language through the study of the different factors in language,analyzing deeply the main ideas: the role of the child, the environment and language in thisprocess, On the other hand, Chapter 2 instead focuses exclusively on the aspect in whichthe environment influences language acquisition and its relationship with the child beinginfluenced in their acquisition of language and what will be his mother tongue, alsoexplains that the child acquires language in order to communicate and ask different thingswith a final purpose; In conclusion the importance of the first acquired language is that, it isand will be the language in which we communicate with others and to which we areconfronted every day, whether at school, at home or anywhere, is part of us and animportant part of interaction with others, therefore it is necessary to understand what wemean with the first acquired language.