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Language learning, or language acquisition, is the process through which individuals gain communicational proficiency in one or more linguistic varieties in any modality (e.g., spoken or signed languages). This may involve the informal learning of what are traditionally called ‘first’ or ‘native’ languages in infancy (the ‘L1 acquisition’) or the later learning, perhaps in more deliberate fashion, of ‘second’ or additional languages (the ‘L2 acquisition’). The learning of ‘first’ languages is a fundamental aspect of the child’s overall social, psychological, and personal development as well as the basis for explicit learning through language in instructional settings, hence its fundamental significance in childhood and throughout the life span. The validity of the distinction between ‘native’ and ‘second’ languages; the relationship between L1 and L2 learning ...

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