Grand Canyon University: TSL-546
March 25, 2015
Comparing Primary and Secondary Language Acquisition
One of the greatest achievements of mankind is the development of language. Communication between human beings unties individuals into a complex society where collaboration between individuals allows them to reach their full potential. The human brain plays a key role in the human’s ability to understand and use language. “Every healthy child is born with 100 billion brain cells and each cell makes up to 20,000 connections” (Vos, 2008). The synaptic connections in the brain of an infant respond to the stimuli in the environment and grow at an astonishing rate as the brain works to process the information it is receiving. It takes less than a year for an infant’s brain to develop one trillion synaptic connections. Without a sufficient supply of new stimuli these connections will not last. This, however, is not problematic since it is during these initial years, when the number of synaptic connections are at their greatest, that children acquire their primary language. By age ten almost half of the connections have died. There is enough stimuli present for most individuals to maintain the remaining synaptic connections in in their brains, and at twelve years of age these connections have become the foundation for individuals to move beyond the acquisition of language and begin to use language in more creative and complex ways.
The American Speech-Language-Hearing Association differentiates between language and speech. Language is viewed as a set of rules established by society. These rules address, “What words mean, how to make new words, how to put words together, and what word combinations are best in what situations” (The American Speech-Language-Hearing Association, 2015). Speech, on the other hand, is defined as, “The verbal means of communicating and consists of articulation, voice, and fluency” (The American Speech-Language-Hearing Association, 2015). Language acquisition and mastery follows developmental timeline. The ability of school age children to master communication skills correlates to the development of their cognitive abilities. As the children mature these correlations become more and more evident. When children enter kindergarten they should have the ability to communicate with those around them. At this point they are not able to use written communication, with the exception of printing their name, but they can read a picture book and use illustrations to convey ideas. Children use language as social currency as they enter first grade and create stories by connecting sentences together. They have gained a basic understanding of the rules of grammar and have begun to read. These language and communication skill continue to expand over the course of the year and by second grade students can use language to compare and contrast items and can read and write for a variety of purposes. Within the next twelve months students can provide detailed accounts using both oral and written communication. Their ability to hold a discussion will also increase and they master the intricacies of oral communication such as tome, verbal inflection, rate of speech, and volume. These skills will develop to the point where third graders should be able to have a conversation with an adult. As students near the end of primary school signs of their developing cognitive abilities should become more evident in their language skills. Fourth graders begin the move away from concrete usages of language and begin to comprehend figurative language. In addition to this they can process language in both oral and written form and summarize what they have heard or read. When encountering new and unfamiliar words they can also access prior knowledge to determine the meaning of the unfamiliar pieces of language.
As students transition from the primary grades into