Acquisition might take from several months to couple of years, whereas learning might last all life long. This assumption is fortified by the input hypothesis represented by linguist Stephen Krashen who made a distinction between language learning and language acquisition, claiming that acquisition is a subconscious process, while learning is a conscious one (Sole, 1994). Conversely, contemporary state school and university curriculum is mostly focused on so called “skill building” approach to language teaching which means that teachers have to teach students to pass through the tests by means of sufficient linguistic skills, therefore it is more likely to be called language learning rather than acquisition.
The language acquisition process often occurs unconsciously, instinctively, inadvertently, without purposeful assimilation. However, the process of language acquisition may be also a conscious, if you are, for example, taught a particular language with a particular purpose, or it can be intuitive when you already acquired a language and developed some speaking skills from your childhood.
To some extend second language acquisition can be similar to L1 acquisition process. This means that second language acquisition should be maximally alike, thereby this process will be effortless and efficient. Moreover, according to Krashen’s theory, the process of L2 acquisition is similar to the acquisition of mother-tongue (Sole, 1994). Thereby, second language acquisition can be artificially imitated. There are a diversity of methods in L2 teaching that might provide the imitation of L1 acquisition process. For example, Total Physical Response (TPR) and Teaching Proficiency through Reading and Storytelling (TPRS) discussed in one of my previous blogs. Given methods empower the students to learn grammar and vocabulary through perception of comprehensible messages, so they acquire L2 subconsciously during listening and reading. Finally, L2 acquisition process might be expediently assimilated with L1 acquisition process.
I am personally convinced that language acquisition occurs beyond stressful memorization of grammar structures and loads of vocabulary. I started to make significant progress as I gave up on memorizing and writing mathematical formulas of tenses to learn using them automatically. Whereas relaxing and joyful activities such as following video blog channels of my interest, reading catchy news and articles, and watching my favourite movies for 101th time in English helped me to start understanding, writing, reading and speaking more fluently than ever before.
What sort of advice would you give to your friends or relatives in order to help them reduce their sufferance in foreign language learning?
Sole, Y. (1994). The Input Hypothesis and the Bilingual Learner. The Bilingual Review, 19(2), 99–110
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