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Language Acquisition and Development

  • By: Gerardo Ortega
  • In: The SAGE Deaf Studies Encyclopedia
  • Edited by: Genie Gertz & Patrick Boudreault
  • Subject:Physical Disabilities, Otorhinolaryngology (Ears, Nose, & Throat)

The study of first- and second-language (L1 and L2, respectively) acquisition has the goal of characterizing the emergence of linguistic structures of a new language by individuals of different ages. More specifically, the field of L1 acquisition studies how infants gradually develop a native language from birth until they become proficient users of a language. L2 acquisition is significantly different in that learners already have an L1 and go on to learn an additional language. One of the most important features of L1 acquisition is that it is an effortless process because the flexibility of toddlers’ brains allows them to learn a language without conscious knowledge or without awareness of its grammatical rules. In contrast, L2 acquisition often happens when learners’ cognitive capacities are not ...

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