Language acquisition is the process through which people gain the ability to understand and use language. An individual is said to acquire a language when he/she is in a position to use words and sentences to receive and pass messages across.
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Language is an inherently human trait because other animals do not use language to communicate with each other. There are four key elements that set language apart from the forms of communication used by other animals. These elements are arbitrariness, semanticity, productivity and displacement (Luongo-Orlando, 2010).
Arbitrariness implies that in spoken language, the form of a word cannot predict what it defines. For instance the words car, gari and coche all describe the same thing. However, it is not possible to tell why any of the words describes the invention better than the others (Piper, 2012).
Semanticity basically describes the fact that words in any given language represent ideas. For instance the word mobile phone represents the idea of a gadget that can be used for communication across large distances and is also portable (Piper, 2012).
Productivity is a description of the fact that human beings can combine different sounds to come up with an infinite number of utterances. This is the reason why individuals can pair up different sounding words to come up with a sentence that makes sense to other speakers of the language (Piper, 2012).
Displacement is the idea that language can be used to communicate on things not in the immediate environment. Words in any language can describe things that happened in the past and those that will happen in future.
One unique feature of language is that children, growing up, can easily learn how to communicate in multiple languages, with or without the intervention of their parents. It is a fact that children even those with unique disabilities can learn a language, which will then help them in communication.
In some instances, however, it will take the encouragement of teachers or parents. However, for children to learn anything in taught in a formal setting, they must first be in a position to communicate in the language of instruction. As such, language is the medium by which children build literacy.
|All forms of languages use one particular structure in order to form meaning-subject, verb, object (Nikolov, 2009). The order of the elements may not be the same in all languages.||Focuses on the physical properties of sound. Phonology also studies the rules that dictate how various sounds can be combined for communication purposes (Piper, 2012). When learning a language, children primarily seek to know the proper way of combining different sounds in order to pass across a particular meaning. For instance, a child learning English will know the difference between man and Dan, while subconsciously picking the difference between the ‘d’ and ‘m’ sounds||Children, when learning a language, first understand how to make certain sounds to represent a particular idea (Luongo-Orlando, 2010). They then learn how to use a combination of different sounds to pass a message across, as well as to comprehend what other people say.|
The steps of learning language
|Linguistic-Children first learn how to use language in order to pass messages across and to also comprehend what others are saying.|
|Metalinguistic-After learning to communicate using the sounds that make up a particular language, children then become aware of the different elements of language and how to manipulate them to come up with an entirely new language.|
|Metalinguistic verbalization-Finally, the children verbalize the elements of language that they have formulated in the metalinguistic stage. This is the most advanced level of language.|
Luongo-Orlando. (2010).The Cornerstones to Early Literacy. Ontario: Pembroke Publishers Limited.
Nikolov, M. (2009). The age factor and early language learning. Munich: Walter de Gruyter.
Piper, T. (2012). Making meaning making sense: Children’s early language learning. San Diego: Bridgepoint Education.