First Language Acquisition

What are the stages of language learning?

How humans learn their mother language is quite complex and interesting. No matter which language you learn, all human beings go through the same stages from the infancy to the adulthood. Let’s take a look at first language acquisition and its stages in detail.

The first stage when acquiring your first language is ‘Crying‘. This may not appear as such a use of a language; However, it is the first step for communication. If you ask any parents whether it is a sort communication, they would tell you that there are different kinds of crying. A baby cries differently when it is wet, hungry or bored. Then, it is a communication and in a way language.

The next stage is ‘Cooing‘. After two months, children start doing vowel sounds. By about six months of age, there come consonants. This stage is called ‘Babbling‘. You can observe combinations of vowels and consonants even if they don’t make any sense. In this stage, you may hear your baby ‘talking’ happily in its crib.

These stages we have mentioned so far are commonly observed. Even the baby is deaf. Deaf babies cry and coo and babble even they don’t hear anything. Parents, therefore, don’t understand whether their baby is deaf or not in the first six months.

When you speak, you don’t speak in the same tone like a text reader. For instance, when you ask a question, the pitch goes up in the end. After 6 months, babies start to pick the melody of their mother language. This is because, even though they don’t speak the language, they pick up the pitches, melodies, voices and emotions. By the age of one, you can hear single words. Moreover, babies would use these words as sentences to communicate.

Can we learn a second language like we do our first language?

By about eighteen months, we observe multi-word sentences. However, the sentence would be overly shortened. For instance, if baby wants you to get water from the fridge and give him or her, it would say, ‘give water fridge’. Starting from this stage, children between the ages of two and six can learn ten new words only just hearing them. They simply acquire so fastly the vocabulary of their first language. They don’t have to work at it like people work when they try to learn a second language. Because by puberty, human beings lose the ability to pick up words simply by hearing it. We have to work at it! We, adults, won’t pick it up as naturally and easily as babies do. That’s why new education systems are beginning second language teaching from the kindergarten. In kindergarten children will acquire the vocabulary even without realizing it.

You also may find interesting this article: What is a language?