A language can be considered as an important thing in building interpersonal relationships. People have to use any language in communicating with each other as well as in every other actions. Lack of language may lead to many problems in day today life. For this reason, it is possible that language began to be created from the beginning of mankind. Thus, language that started with markers in the early stages gradually started to be developed. However, nowadays every person learns a mother tongue from their infancy to meet their basic needs. First language is the language that one acquired from the birth. The second language is the language that we learn after the mother tongue or first language.
Learning a second language is not an easy task though it’s highly beneficial. It is not easy as learning an L1. L1 is automatically acquired but L2 must be learned by putting an effort.
First language acquisition
Language acquisition is a universal and special human ability as it is universal to any normal child regardless of social, cultural and intellectual level, etc, of the child. According to Boysson-Bardies (1999, 29), most babies of four months of age act in response to their name without realizing that the sound forms have referential function. That observation indicates that babies have good perception of sound. It also indicates that the brain of the newborn baby is more developed than is commonly expected at the initial state. So, human beings are born with a special ability to acquire the language regardless of its complexity. First Language Acquisition is touted by linguist as the process of acquiring a language via exposure whilst young.
Likely, babies develop two important skills in the process of development of language as;
– Receptive Skills
– Expressive skills
Receptive skills started to be developed at birth when the infant is exposed to various noises. From six to eight weeks he/she is able to differentiate human sounds from other noises. Specially, they will recognize mother’s voice and respond to her voice with smiles. By nine months he/she start to responds to gestures and movements. By the age of twelve months the baby can respond to commands. According to the Stork and Widdowso (1974), the development of expressive skills is the beginning of active participation of speech and language. In this stage infants starts their expressive skills in the form of cooing, babbling and crying. These language developmental stages are common to any baby regardless the language that he/she tends to use in later life.
During the first three months, a baby’s vocalizations are nothing more than cries and vegetative adaptations. However, around three months, at the time of the first social smile, babies begin to make the delightful little sounds that we call ‘cooing.’ Cooing means the earliest producing sounds during the first few months of the baby. At the beginning the baby starts to produce high vowel sounds like [I] and [u]. By four months produces consonant sounds like [k] and [g].
Babbling is the first stage of language acquisition occurs between birth and approximately 7 months of age. This is when children start to recognize and produce sounds. The sounds children produce in the babbling stage are universal. Children quickly learn which sounds attract the attention if their parents and which sounds are positively reinforced and encouraged, which supports the behaviorism approach towards language, as children here are simply learning and imitating what their parents want them to learn and reward them for this. In this stage after combine vowels and consonants together and produce sounds like ba, pa, ga which is commonly known as babbling. Parents are delighted when their child produces babbling sounds such as ba-ba and da-da and think their child may be producing the words baby and daddy. However, it is more likely that the child is experimenting with sounds and does not associate the words with the person until later when these sounds appear as words regularly in the child’s vocabulary.
The One-word Stage
During language development children go through stages during which their language gets better and better until they can finally speak fluently. The one-word stage, as the name implies, the stage in which children speak mainly in single words. Between eight and twelve months the babies start to produce single-unit utterances. They produce common words that they mostly hear from the caregivers. This stage is also called as holophrastic stage.
The Two-word Stage
Within a few months of producing one word utterances children will begin to produce two-word phrases. The two-word stage often occurs from 18-20 months, consisting of utterances generally two nouns or a noun and a verb like the example mama give and dada went.