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The Importance of Language, Memory and Bilingualism in Language Acquisition

The Importance of Language, Memory and Bilingualism in Language Acquisition

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Published by Alexander Decker
International peer-reviewed academic journals call for papers, http://www.iiste.org
International peer-reviewed academic journals call for papers, http://www.iiste.org

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Published by: Alexander Decker on Nov 30, 2013
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Research on Humanities and Social Sciences www.iiste.org ISSN 2222-1719 (Paper ISSN 2222-2!"# ($nline %ol.#& No.17& 2'1#
"#
The Importance of Language, Memory and Bilingualism in Language Acquisition
Isa Spahiu& Ph& )ildira* +e,i& Ph International alan /ni,ersit*& Sop0e& acedonia i.spahiu*ahoo.com& ce,i*ildira**ahoo.com
Abstract
3he process o4
learning to speak
(language is one o4 the most important things o4 earl* childhood. 5ithin some months& children mo,e 4rom sa*ing single words to longer sentences and 4rom a small ,oca6ular* to one that grows 6* si new words per da*. 8anguage is our main& principal mean o4 communication. 8anguage tools mean a lot& new opportunities 4or social understanding& 4or learning a6out the world& and 4or sharing eperiences& needs and pleasures. $n the other hand& in order to understand how we learn& it is 4irst necessar* to understand something a6out how do we thin. 5ithout a good
memory
 language learning would simpl* 6e impossi6le and as a result humans de,elopment as well. emor* is undou6tedl* one o4 the most important concepts in remem6ering things& in learning& 6ecause& simpl*& i4 things are not remem6ered& learning cannot tae place.
Keywords:
 memor*& 6ilingualism& language acuisition& 81& and 82.
Introduction
Human 6eings inherit the a6ilit* to spea& 6ut the* do not inherit the a6ilit* to spea a particular language. 3hus& a child learns to spea the language o4 those who 6ring it up 4rom in4anc* that in most o4 cases are his:her own  parents. ut we are all aware that one;s 4irst language is acuired 4rom the en,ironment and 4rom learning. 3he learning o4 a second language is uite a di44erent matter. <cept in case where the child;s parents are 6ilingual& or 4rom di44erent linguistic 6acgrounds& learning a second language 6ecomes a deli6erate or imposed acti,it* on the child 6* social& political or religious 4actors acting upon him. 3hus& generall*& the person who is a6le to 3here are no sources in the current document
 Spea two languages lie =l6anian and acedonian is said to 6e  6ilingual.
! Language
1.1 What is language?
3he main e* 4actor o4 human de,elopmental process that distinguishes (sets apart human 6eings 4rom animals is undou6tedl*
language
. It is in 4act a ,er* 6road term to discuss. 3hrough language in a wa* we re4lect oursel,es& and that;s one o4 the reasons wh* it is ,er* important and essential in e,er* aspect o4 our li,es. In other words& language somehow shapes our thoughts and emotions and determines our perception o4 realit*. It has 6ecome a ma0or tool o4 communication 6etween di44erent countries& groups& cultures& ,arious companies and organi>ations& communities and 4riends. =s we all now& we use language to communicate with each other& to epress our 4eelings& to as something& to epress our thoughts and stu44 lie that. 3he importance and signi4icance o4 language in humans? li,es is enormousl* high. It is not limited to 0ust 6eing a means through which we communicate our thoughts and 4eelings to others& 6ut has also 6ecome a tool 4or multiculturalism as well as economic relationships. In the de,elopmental process o4 a child& language pla*s a ,er* signi4icant role as it is connected with ,arious aspects o4 a children;s growth. 5e are all aware that a 6a6* is 6orn without language& 6ut e,en without a special or 4ormal training& 6* the age o4 4our-4i,e& the child is a6le to sa* se,eral words and grammar o4 a particular language. 3his is an inherited human a6ilit* (tendenc*& which is ,er* important 4or children;s 4urther growth. =n* discrepanc* noticed in learning a language at such an earl* stage ma* indicate certain illnesses in a child.
1.2 Language acquisition and its importance in human development
3he process o4 learning a particular language is directl* related to a ind o4 emotional de,elopment. (@arcia & 2''7. Aor eample& a 6a6* looing at his:her parent;s 4ace is responded 6* cooing and some words indicating lo,e 6* his:her parents. 3his is recorded in the 6a6*;s mind and when he 6ecomes older& he 6egins to use language in order to epress his emotions:4eelings as well. 3here ha,e 6een made se,eral studies and researches regarding the importance o4 language in the de,elopment o4 human 6eings& what ind o4 role pla*s the same in our li,es& and ecept the Btheor*C o4 6eing used as the main tool o4 communication 6etween people& wh* and how do we use it. 1.
 
People ma* use language
to induce an action in other people
. (@ardner& H& 19!7. ut what does this meanD 3he 6est instance would include a child asing his:her parent to hand him or her a to* that somewhere high and he:she cannot touch and tae himsel4:hersel4 or a teacher asing his:her students to hand him the tests.
 
Research on Humanities and Social Sciences www.iiste.org ISSN 2222-1719 (Paper ISSN 2222-2!"# ($nline %ol.#& No.17& 2'1#
"E 2.
 
8anguage is also used as
a tool by one person to help that particular person remember things
. 3hus& language somehow epands the cogniti,e a6ilities that are alread* present in human 6rain. Aor instance& a child might not 6e a6le to remem6er how man* da*s a wee has& 6ut 6* learning the rh*me o4 a short poem concerning the da*s o4 the wee& he:she will easil* 6e a6le to store those 4acts in the memor*. #.
 
=nother use o4 language might in,ol,e
the transfer of information, experience or knowledge from one individual to another 
. (@ardner& H& 19!7. Aor instance& a parent teaching his child how to wear his pants and the teacher gi,ing a lecture on a particular topic are 6oth using a language to share their nowledge:in4ormation with another indi,idualD It is this ind o4 use o4 language that ma* lead to cultural e,olution. E.
 
3he 4ourth use o4 language is to discuss a6out that particular language itsel4& or in other words
to use language to reflect upon language
. (@ardner& H& 19!7. = good eample in this case would 6e a child asing his mother what the word FwantF means and a linguist eamining the s*ntactic rules o4 ,arious languages. =ccording to @ardner& this ind o4 use o4 language is also called Fmetalinguistic anal*sisC. @ardner acnowledges the wide ,ariet* o4 wa*s in which we use language& 6ut he 6elie,es that the* all 4it into one o4 these 4our categories. =nother well nown linguist who discussed the use o4 language in more general terms than @ardner is
 Andy Clark 
. In his 6oo entitled Being 3hereG Putting rain& od*& and 5orld 3ogether =gainC& =nd* +lar agrees that language is not onl* a tool 4or communicating thoughts or ideas. =ccording to him& language is also a tool that was created 4or use 6* humans& 0ust as is a pair o4 scissors. Fust as scissors ena6le us to eploit our 6asic manipulati,e capacities to 4ul4il new ends& language ena6les us to eploit our 6asic cogniti,e capacities o4  pattern recognition and trans4ormation in wa*s that reach out to new 6eha,ioural and intellectual hori>onsF (19#-19E. 3his means that& scissors ha,e the manipulating a6ilities o4 people hands and use them to produce a sill that normall* could not 6e accomplished 6* a human 6eingG in other words& cutting a 4airl* straight line with a  piece o4 paper. 8ie these scissors& language taes human a6ilities that alread* eist-this time we ha,e to deal with cogniti,e rather than manipulati,e in nature& and epounds upon these in order to gi,e this human a com6ination a6ilities that were not achie,a6le 6* the indi,idual (or the tool alone (+lar 19#-19E. Howe,er& there is a general agreement on the importance o4 language in indi,iduals; cognition& and e,en in the multiple wa*s we use this necessar* sill. 3he uniue a6ilit* to use language sets human 6eings apart 4rom animals& at least partl*& 4or the uniueness o4 human cogniti,e pro4ile. 5e would de4initel* 6e a ,er* di44erent species i4 it wasn;t 4or this BawesomeC sill.
 
1.3 Human language and its uniqueness What makes us consider human language unique?
8anguage is in 4act uniue in comparison to other 4orms o4 communication& such as the ones used 6* animals. +ommunication s*stems used 6* other animals or other non-human 6eings are called closed s*stems that consist o4 a closed num6er o4 possi6le things that can 6e epressed.
 
In contrast& human language is open and producti,e s*stem& meaning that it allows people to produce an in4inite set o4 utterances 4rom a 4inite set o4 elements& and to create new words and sentences. 5e can do this 6ecause human language is 6ased on a dual code& (Sadosi .  Pai,io =& 2''1 where a 4inite num6er o4 meaningless elements (e.g. sounds& letters or gestures can 6e com6ined to 4orm units o4 meaning (words and sentences. oreo,er& the s*m6ols and grammatical rules o4 a particular language are ar6itrar*& which means that the s*stem ma* 6e acuired onl* through social interaction. $n the other hand& s*stems o4 communication used 6* animals& can onl* epress a 4inite num6er o4 utterances that are geneticall* transmitted. 5hile some animals might learn a 6ig num6er o4 words and s*m6ols& none o4 them would a6le to learn as man* di44erent signs as generall* a E *ear old child nows& nor will an* animal learn an*thing lie the comple grammar a human 6eing speas:nows. Human language also di44ers 4rom animal communication s*stems in that the* emplo* grammatical and semantic categories such as noun and ,er6& or present& past& and 4uture to epress comple meanings. Regarding the meaning that it ma* con,e* and the cogniti,e operations that it 6uilds on& human language is considered also uniue 4or the 4act that
it is able to refer to abstract concepts and to imaginary events
& as well as e,ents that too place in the past or ma* happen in the 4uture. 3his a6ilit* o4 re4erring to e,ents that do not occur at the time or place as the speech e,ent& is called
displacement 
& (+ha4e 5& 199E and while some animal communication s*stems can use displacement (such as the communication o4 6ees that can communicate the location o4 sources o4 nectar that are out o4 sight& the degree to which it is used in human language is also considered uniue.
 1.4 Which are the main factors that influence language development?
 
In general terms& the two main (6asic 4actors that somehow in4luence language de,elopment are 6iological and en,ironmental ones. (3racler .& 2'12. In each o4 these primar* categories& there are se,eral 4actors that do
 
Research on Humanities and Social Sciences www.iiste.org ISSN 2222-1719 (Paper ISSN 2222-2!"# ($nline %ol.#& No.17& 2'1#
"J
 
gi,e their contri6ution to the de,elopment o4 a language.
 Basic iological factor
In the 6iological categor*& man* researchers claim that children are 6orn with a ind o4 6iological means (de,ice that ena6les them to understand the principles o4 a language. In other words& this means that language is  programmed into the human 6rain. In this contet& language de,elopment happens innatel* and is not in4luenced  6* other 4actors.
!enetic
+hildren (or in general people who geneticall* ha,e certain mental or ph*sical disorders& ha,e o6stacles which directl* in4luence their language de,elopment. (3racler .& (2'12. Aor instance& children 4acing pro6lems with their hearing& the* will directl* ha,e pro6lems with the pronunciation o4 particular words. In this ind o4 4actor& we ha,e also emotional and 6eha,ioral pro6lems such as depression or aniet* which in4luence the language de,elopment o4 some people.
 "#posure and $timulation
an* studies ha,e come to a conclusion that children who are eposed to more ,oca6ular* and more comple grammatical structures de,elop 4aster their language then the others. In this point& stimulating acti,ities and worshops that ha,e to do with language also seem to in4luence language de,elopment.
%pportunities for usage
Some other researches thin that the use o4 language is a more in4luential 4actor compared to 6iological one or eposure. 3heir ,iews might 6e initiated 4rom the 4act that children who are listened to and prompted with stimulating uestions to spea o4ten de,elop their own language sills 4aster than those that do not use language so o4ten. = good eample in this case would 6e the 6a6* o4 a 4amil* who seldom needs to spea as his:her own older si6lings spea 4or them. 3his in4luences language de,elopment a lot and o4ten dela*s the natural de,elopment o4 children.
" Memory
2.1 &efinition
$ne crucial and ,er* important 4actor in language learning and human de,elopment is
memory
. In order to understand how we learn& it is 4irst necessar* to understand something a6out how do we thin. Intelligence is considered as 6eing 4undamentall* memor*-6ased process. 8earning on the other hand means the d*namic modi4ication o4 memor*. 3he term
memory
 re4ers to a set o4 cogniti,e a6ilities through which we o6tain in4ormation and reassem6le mentall* past eperiences. (Kellogg R.3& 2''#. It is in 4act lie a source o4 nowledge and at the same time a e* aspect o4 personal identit*. 5ithout a good memor* language learning would simpl* 6e impossi6le and as a result& one?s de,elopment as well. emor* is undou6tedl* one o4 the most important concepts in remem6ering things& in learning& 6ecause& simpl*& i4 things are not remem6ered& learning cannot tae place at all. emor* ma* also 6e anal*sed as an important part o4 what eeps societ* together& what shapes our culture& and what shapes us as indi,iduals. <,er*thing human 6eings now is part o4 our memor*G all our past eperiences& all we ha,e done.
2.2 '(pes of memor(
emor* is the term gi,en to those structures and processes that are in,ol,ed in the storage and su6seuent retrie,al in4ormation. It is essential to all our li,es. 5ithout a memor* o4 the past& we cannot operate in the  present or thin a6out the 4uture. In a ps*chologist point o4 ,iew& the term memor* co,ers three important aspects o4 in4ormation processingG (Kellogg R.3& 2''#.
 
<ncoding
 
Storage
 
Retrie,al
#ncoding and Memory
5hen particular in4ormation comes into our memor* s*stem& it needs indeed to 6e changed into such a 4orm that our s*stem can cope with& and in this wa* the same ma* 6e stored. Aor eample the case o4 echanging mone* into a di44erent currenc* when one tra,els 4rom one countr* to another. $r the case where a word which is seen (on the 6lac6oard might 6e stored i4 it is changed (encoded into a sound or a meaning (semantic point o4 ,iew. 3here are three main wa*s in which in4ormation can 6e encoded (changedG
! $isual way %through pictures&
 
" Acoustic one %sounds&
 
' (emantic %through meaning&
 

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