Why could children acquire their mother tongue effortlessly and easily?

Courtesy: billingualbirdies.com

Courtesy: billingualbirdies.com

By Muhammad Syahruzzaky

Recently, I’m reading some books about second language acquisition. By chance, I found an interesting topic about “The logical problem of language learning”. This term talks about the phenomenon found in children who can acquire their mother tongue effortlessly and easily. The behaviourists say that they imitate the people around them, but the research shows that they don’t. The children always utter some words that they haven’t received before. Furthermore, it seems amazed how come they do this complicated task (acquiring mother tongue) despite of their immature brain and insufficient input. You know most children show the fast improvement in their mother tongue during the critical period (1-4 years).

The lingusits, then, say that it is because the children are endowed by a language faculty that makes them able to do this. They propose the term “Universal Grammar” which underlies its theory on the concept of the innateness theory. This theory has remained a great influence especially in the field of language teaching till today.

A question then appears; does Universal Grammar still exist in second language acquisition meanwhile the critical period has passed? This short review tries to answer this question.

Click here to download my review about this term.


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