Wednesday, June 6, 2007

Reflection 2

Offer some thoughts about what you see as a relationship between behavioral, nativist, and functional approaches to studying first language acquisition and your own experiences in learning or teaching a second language. In a second response, discuss the role of culture in first language aquisition. Many of you speak more than one language and English is your second language. Do you think the child-parent interaction is different in the United States' English speaking population and a non-English speaking population that you are familiar with?

These three approaches all try to determine/decipher the internal and external influences that guide or enable language acquisition. Although they are different at the absolute end of things, they actually do overlap at times. For example, saying that a child has an innate ability to take language and create more complex language from it does, in some measure, point to the fact that they are creating this new language, or these new combinations of language, from what they are hearing, experiencing, etc., including modeling and feedback. And that meshes well with the idea that these children are learning from their environment, a large part of which is the language they hear, the things they see and participate in, and so on.
Culture is a hugely important factor in 1st language acquisition, and it is something that we carry with us throughout our lives. With our unique learning styles and what we are exposed to, we can open up to other ways of thinking and doing things, but the first experiences and the community/culture we grow up in leave an indelible mark. I grew up semi-typical "American," but in a close-knit family with Irish Catholic traditions of extended family that were closer to what you might see in Mexico (as Janette, Erika, and Polo point out) than in a rigid New England family. The only way we got out of grown-up conversations was to leave the room (with cousins and such, off to go play). The dominant culture we grow up in is something we carry with us, but each individual family, school, community, etc. adds to that individual culture and identity that we bring with us to school and wherever else we may wander.

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