Primary Language Acquisition

Primary Language Acquisition describes the process in which infants develop their mother tongue. In how far children master the acquisition of language, depends on "the mental abilities of the child and on universal constraints like the child's social background, etc." (Schüller 4). By acquiring a language the child fallows certain steps, which are quite similar with every human being in every culture.

In the first three months, the first manner of communication is expressed via "crying, unintentional facial expression, and uncontrolled body movements" (Schüller 4). When the baby is about three months old, it is able to recognize its surrounding and can react with smiling and also produces its first noises in form of babbling sounds. In the sixth month the baby can already produce more organized sounds and is able to perceive sound and words, which it tries to echo. The first word can be echoed by the baby when it is 12-14 months old. From this time onwards the baby can restore vocabulary and slowly learns to repeat words, which tend to be used for several objects. By turning two years old, the infant is able to connect meaning to words. "At that age, the child can pronounce about 20-30 words, which already allows a very basic form of verbal communication" (Schüller 4). After perceiving the meaning of words, the child also learns to link it to cognition. After that, grammatical categories are formed in the following order: "At first, the child is able to express the connection of a person to a location or an object. Afterwards, the child starts to use numbers. Furthermore, they are able to relate objects to a person and the children learn to describe persons or objects." (Schüller 5) After they managed to use adjectives, the children are able to build sentences. "By the end of the second year, the child is able to use all vowels and most consonants" (Schüller 5). The capacity of their vocabulary knowledge expanded to about 200-300 words.

At the age of three, the child is already able to have conversations and can "express wants and understands the parents' argumentation" (Schüller 5) and now learns vocabulary very quickly and is able to use approximately 850 words.


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