The study of language learning, especially the processes by which first languages are learned by children.

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Common schemes for learning (Indo-)European languages

The modern European languages of Indo-European ancestry - like in the Germanic, Romanic, and Slavic branch, for example - share a lot of linguistics features. This consists of similar etymologies, ...
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3answers
75 views

A multilingual home, a pro or a con?

My question is about the appropriate number of languages for a child to learn at home. I'm Finnish and me and my husband recently moved to Finland after living in Spain a few years. My husband's first ...
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Two tasks in one experiment design (self-paced-reading & grammaticality judgment)

For experiment design experts, I want to know if it's possible to design an experiment on PsychoPy or Open Sesame in which the subject does a self paced reading (with measuring the reading times for ...
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1answer
96 views

Teaching children Spanish and Esperanto at home from non-native speakers

A question has already been asked on teaching a child a foreign language if you aren't a native speaker, but the answers are mixed - the 'right' answer says languages can be taught by a non-native ...
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150 views

Is language really too complex for children?

One of the maxims of universal grammar is that children's language acquisition indicates the existence of a genetically preprogrammed language faculty. Because a child cannot master certain complex ...
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85 views

How do homonyms impact English Language Learners comprehension?

I understand that homonyms are words that sound alike but have different meanings. They may or may not be spelled the same. For example, the word fair is spelled and pronounced the same for three ...
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2k views

What is the difference between native language, first language, mother tongue and L1?

Note: I'm not a linguist, and I realize I might be treading in a grey area here. I'm wondering what the differences (and/or similarities) between native language, first language, mother tongue and L1 ...
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78 views

Mastering a foreign language without staying in a country to which the language is native

I am not a native English speaker. What I would like to understand is - if a non native speaker who’s got a fairly decent command on the language (in this case say English) speaks to his or her kid in ...
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What are the main factors that define the difference between spoken and written language acquisition?

I am writing an essay and could really do with some help. I am only interested in native language acquisition at this time, there seems to be many sources available on spoken language acquisition but ...
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156 views

Is it more difficult to learn Japanese or English for a Chinese?

For Europeans it's easier to learn English than Japanese. Is the the same true for Chinese? As far as measuring difficulty I would propose the amount of hours that you need to study the language to ...
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76 views

Recordings of native English speaking children/adolescents reading a text

I would like to compare the pronunciation of young non-native speakers/learners of English with that of native speakers of the same age. The target age is primary school and secondary school age, ca. ...
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96 views

Is there a term for the error whereby two commonly co-occurring words are mistakenly learned as one?

Consider the following dialogue: "How are you, Juliet?" "Ohnot too bad" The child has evidently heard people saying responding to "How are you?" with "Oh, not too bad" and has come to learn ...
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There is evidence that domesticated animals (cats or dogs) understand human language?

Some pet owners seem to be able to speak to their cats or dogs. Is there any evidence that animals understand human languages? EDIT: By understand, i mean understanding of spoken language and ...
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471 views

Are there marked/“hard” phonemes that are acquired very late or never by a substantial number of speakers?

Marked phonemes are those that require more effort during articulation or are "harder" to articulate. For example, the interdental fricatives /θ/ and /ð/ are considered to be marked. Marked phonemes ...
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77 views

What kinds of evidence are used in order to discover how children acquire language & what are its limitations?

Could someone help me to breakdown what this question needs me to look at specifically!? 'Assess the state of language acquisition research in terms of the types of evidence that are used to support ...
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2answers
101 views

Has anyone here successfully learned another language? [closed]

Has anyone here successfully learned* another language? *Learned being defined as the ability to communicate with native speakers without trouble (or basically, at an expert level). I'm curious to ...
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35 views

The informal word a child uses to call his/her mother is the same (or strongly similar) in many languages. Why? [duplicate]

I was rather surprised to learn that the Chinese word for "mommy" is māmā. It never surprised me to hear that this word is similar among Western languages, because of some common origin or borrowing ...
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130 views

Is phonics still considered a strong teaching tool for teaching reading skills?

A number of years ago there was a company called "Hooked on Phonics", which made a name for itself with a successful ad campaign, and whose aim was to emphasize connecting different phonemes of words ...
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251 views

What language do children think in?

If a child born in Canada is spoken to strictly in another foreign tongue other than english (ie. Italian), it is inevitable that this child will also think in Italian. When this child starts going ...
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180 views

What Second Language Confers the Greatest Cognitive Benefit [closed]

If I were to learn a second language which language in the world would confer the greatest cognitive benefit to a native English speaker? Would, say, Japanese confer greater benefit than Spanish due ...
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2answers
151 views

Getting familiar with accents

Would it not be nice to have a site from which people can listen to different phrases in different languages with each phrase having the following characteristics, in any combination: Sample ...
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0answers
158 views

Do teachers of ESL need to know how first language is acquired?

In my class we are discussing teaching English as a second language. Some contend that to teach ESL we need to know the processes an theories about first language acquisition and it is not clear to me ...
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199 views

Would a Proto language be easy to learn?

Since English descends from Proto-Germanic, which descends from PIE, would either of those two languages be relatively easy to learn (compared to, say, Japanese), or has the language changed too much ...
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178 views

Studies of Twin Speak

I'm curious about language acquisition among twins. I've heard it said that they often develop their own language (of sorts) and I was wondering if anyone has done any studies of this phenomenon. Is ...
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158 views

Understanding English deeply like native speakers

As I have noticed, a native speaker can actually judge the essence of person, the way he's feeling, even his personality through his writing or voice. Will it be possible for a non-native English ...
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4answers
357 views

Can children learn up to 4 different languages? And how to do it?

An example is parents with different mother tongues living in a foreign country, teaching those three languages and also English. How and when should this language be taught? Can all be taught in ...
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649 views

Relationship between language similarity and ease of foreign language acquisition?

Inspired by this infographic, which lists a bunch of languages as either easy to learn, hard to learn, or medium. I noticed that all the languages in the easy category were either Romance or Germanic ...
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268 views

Can one's native medium of language be written, rather than spoken or signed?

(This is probably a poorly-formed question, but I'm really just trying to find out if there's any research in this area.) Most children pick up a spoken or signed language at an early age, and this ...
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133 views

What can one gain from learning language constructed for books or films, like Sindarin? [closed]

I know about people who learn, use and even develop the constructed languages created for books or films, such as Sindarin. Most of them are doing it because of a very geek interest in the topic, or ...
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1k views

How useful is the “pimsleur approach” for learning a new language?

I saw this video earlier today (The most important part is from 8.00 to 9.00), explaining what the "Pimsleur approach" is. It got me interested, because they claim it's the fastest method of learning ...
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2answers
270 views

How do children learn to speak compared to adults?

Why is it hard to learn a second language as an adult while the children may learn to speak more than one language more easily than adults do? If true, how can the language learning process be made ...
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3answers
1k views

Can I learn a new language just by listening or watching videos?

The question is a bit more specific than title would suggest, but I was not creative enough to put it so specifically into compact form. Let me explain. When I was a kid I was learning English in ...
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300 views

Significance of “childish errors” in mainstream language change

Over on ELU the question Is “bettern't” an OK word to use? drew me into debate about how significant "childish errors" are in the development of mainstream language. Hence, the question: Are ...
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167 views

Computational models of language acquisition

What are currently used computational models/frameworks of language acquisition? Desired features: models that are biologically plausible (such as neural networks). Personally, I have used ...
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186 views

Do infants deliberately change the words when they omit the sounds and these words are minimal pairs?

While I was studying an infant's transcript, I realized that he deleted the [l] sound in "alma" [alma], a word in Turkish meaning "do not take". When he deleted the sound, the word became [a:ma]. ...
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405 views

Intonation for questions in different languages and child's early language development intonations

Since my 9 months old son started pointing to things and saying 'Ahh?' with a proper question intonation, I was wondering if all other languages have the same intonation for questions as in English ...
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Evidence for age cutoff in foreign accent acquistion

Steven Pinker in "The Language Instinct" claims that there is strong psychological evidence for the existence of a sharp age cutoff for the ability to acquire a flawless foreign accent (I may dig up ...
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278 views

Is there an equivalent to the Flesch Kincaid test for measuring quality and understandability of speech?

I want to measure the quality of speech: is it higher level/lower level (vocabulary grammar etc.) and also the understandability of the speech, i.e. is the teacher using language above a student's ...
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277 views

General mathematical frameworks of language acquisition since Gold

Gold's theorem on the unlearnability of certain sets of languages (among them context-free ones) made several assumptions in its modeling of learning a language: At each time step the learner ...
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226 views

Are first words in signed languages composed of signs that babies frequently babble?

In many spoken languages, the words for "mother" and "father" are composed of sounds that babies make very early. Is there a similar trend for early words that babies babble across signed languages?
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Recommendations on the current state of parameters as explanation in acquisition?

In the original P&P model, we had a nice story in which there was supposed to be some finite list of principles and some finite list of parameters, the former constraining hypotheses and the ...
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3k views

Is it possible to change your mother-tongue by thinking in another language?

Once I heard from someone that your mother tongue is the language you talk in your thoughts. I've asked many people to verify the correctness of this proposition and to me, inductively this seems to ...
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3k views

Why do most words for “mother”, across languages, start with an [m], and for “father” with [p]/[b], but not vice versa?

It has been observed that in general, a word for "mother" tends to be based on a bilabial nasal [m] or similar consonant, and for father it tends to be [b] or [p]. This is found in many language ...
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450 views

When and how do children learn to distinguish languages?

At what age range are children expected to be able to distinguish languages? Are there any factors that aid children in learning this skill?
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702 views

Are some languages inherently harder for children to acquire?

I don't see why this shouldn't be the case. Surely children around the world don't learn to speak fluently by the same age?
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When is the end of the critical period?

At what age, approximately, is the end of the critical period for native language acquisition? Of course, I understand that many details surrounding the critical period are up for debate. I want to ...
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2answers
2k views

Why do parents refer to themselves in third person?

Why do parents refer to themselves in third person, when talking to small kids? I've seen this happening in German, English and Russian and I do this myself (even though I try not to, because I think, ...
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8answers
3k views

What makes a non-native English speaker sound foreign?

I'm not a native speaker. However, I have tried a lot during last 10 years to learn English at a high level of proficiency and to become fluent in conversation. However, when I talk to some of my ...
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Simultaneous bilingualism vs Sequential bilingualism

Simultaneous bilingualism (or multilangualism) is when a child acquires two (or many) languages simultaneously, for example when they are raised by parents speaking more than one language. ...
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746 views

What method do linguists use to rate language competence?

People on the street bandy about words like "fluent", "knows French", "speaks broken French" as if it all means something. How do linguists determine if a speaker is competent and what taxonomy do ...