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1st language vs 2nd language acquisitionLanguage acquisition is the process by which humans acquire language, and many studies and theories have been put forth in relation to how it is that language is aquired. There are two kinds of language acquisition; first language acquisition and second language aquisition. This article aims to outline the differences between the two kinds of language acquisition and briefly summarise some of the theories on how language is acquired. First language is the native language of a person and the first one they encounter as a child. First language is aquired at a remarkable rate by a child and although everyone learns at a different pace, usually by the time the child begins school, they are proficient in their native language. Native language isn't taught to a child by their parents in the same way that one would learn a second language at a later stage in life and a major concern of language acquisition is how infants pick up so much from what appears to be very little input. First language acquisition can be divided into a number of theories: The cognitive theory of Jean Piaget, which deals with the nature of knowledge and how humans come to aquire, construct and use it. It claims that language is dependent on cognitive development and therefore the outcome of first language acquisition is the same regardless of the intelligence of the individual. It explains that the child develops his or her language skills based on his or her needs and interests. The social interactionist model of Lev Vygotsky which explains that social interaction plays an important role in the acquisition of new language as well as the overall learning process. Behaviourism, which emphasizes that children are conditioned to learn language through a stimulus-response pattern, such as the imitation and repetition of others. Innatism, which says that the mind is pre-determined to acquire knowledge and ideas and therefore humans are hard wired to develop language skills and certain aspects are programmed into the mind from birth. There a many others, but all of them seem to compare to some degree, nature versus nurture or a combination of both. Second language is the acquisition of a new language after the native language has been established. It is rare for a second language learner to reach the same competency as that of a native speaker and children are more likely to achieve native-like fluency than adults. There are many factors that influence second language acquisition and there are also a number of theories on the subject. Contrastive analysis or language transfer, where students transfer forms and meanings from their native language to the new language. Item and system learning, formal classroom learning, where learners learn formulaic chunks of language as well as language rules. Input and interaction, as covered by Stephen Krashen, which pointed out among other things that the length of time a person stays in a foreign country is closely linked with his level of language acquisition, implying that the more input or exposure one has, the greater the level of acquisition. Sociolinguistic study of L2 acquisition, which rejects the notion that language is a purely psychological phenomenon and that the social context in which the language is learned is essential for a proper understanding of the acquisition process. Order of acquisition, which demonstrated that there was a typical order of grammatical structures learned among learners with different native languages as well as adults and children. Interlanguage, which is the learners language ability with the new language combined with some features of their native language. It is based on the theory that there is a psychological structure latent in the brain which is activated when one attempts to learn a second language. In conclusion, this topic appears to be very complicated. There is a huge contrast between first language and second language acquisition, and there are many contradicting theories which by themselves, don't completely explain either. I thought it would be interesting to have a better understanding of how the process of learning a second language differs from acquiring a native language, but now I am more confused. My personal impression is, as hard as you try, it will be incredibly difficult to gain the fluency in a second language as a native speaker, however with enough input and interaction, social context and item and system learning, among other things, you can learn enough to get by. References: http://www.teflcorp.com/articles/51-tefl-1st-language-vs-2nd-language-acquisition/164-1st-language-vs-2nd-language-acquisition.htm http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Language_acquisition http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Second-language_acquisition