A COMPARISON OF FIRST AND SECOND LANGUAGE LEARNING

May B. Frith

Abstract


When Chomsky stated that "the problem of internal justification of explanatory adequacy - is essentially the problem of constructing a theory of language acquisition, an account of the specific innate abilities that make this achievement possible" he was highlighting one of the main areas of interest to transformational grammarians. This interest continues to be a central issue in psycholinguistics. In pursuing it, linguists and psycholinguists have gained new insights into the way a child acquires the ability to speak his first language (L1) and particularly into the development of the child's grammatical system. In this paper I shall examine a number of L1 research studies in an attempt to discover whether the hypothesized similarity between L1 acquisition and second language (L2) learning has any empirical support. I shall then consider the question of age and language leaming to see if there are actually any changes in learning ability, rate of learning and learning strategies as the individual grows oider.

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