English, English, English- in India every jobseeker entering the job market thinks about English and tries to become fluent in speaking it. But very few seekers succeed in achieving their goal. In India even in the so called English medium schools the teaching is done mostly in mother tongue. So the country is facing acute scarcity of skilled teachers of English. The teachers who teach English in Indian schools are well familiar with the grammar rules as they are habituated to teach all those innumerable rules in the vernacular to the student community. Teachers don't have the awareness of language acquisition. They are still under the impression that language is something that should be learnt. They don't treat it as a skill in which the student community should be trained.
It is a well known fact that most of the language acquisition occurs through comprehensible input. The input could either be listening to a teacher or reading a newspaper. Another significant finding is that the language acquisition happens without we being aware of it, in other words it occurs in our subconscious mind. So we need not put any special effort to learn a second language. All we need to do is finding some interesting and comprehensible input and listen to it or read it. While listening or reading, the trainee has to catch the language and start using the expression in his day to day communication.
According to some sources the best way to acquire a second language (in case of India it is English) is to acquire it just like a newborn baby acquires it. A baby spends its first two years in silently observing its parents and the people in the vicinity. In its third year it starts imitating the expressions it hears. According to Noam Chomsky, a well known American linguist, the ability to acquire language is something innate and genetically hardwired into our brains. So the babies have the ability to overcome the poverty of stimulus and bridge the gap between the available comprehensible input and the output they generate. Since they cannot read a text they can't use it as comprehensible input, whereas the adults can use the text as a comprehensible input and this is an advantage to them. Listening and reading play a vital role in the acquisition of language as they provide the trainee with the required input, whereas the writing and speaking only use the skill acquired by the trainee.
Many teachers overuse the term LSRW skills and claim that these skills have to be imparted. It’s true, but in which order? The acquisition should start with listening and should be followed by speaking reading and writing. This is the order even a baby follows.
In case of babies “Poverty of Stimulus” plays a major role. The magnitude of input they receive is highly inadequate, but they make up the gap by using their innate language learning ability. In this effort they coin some new words and even some new expressions which are termed as part of the baby talk.
But what about the “language Acquisition Device”, which Chomsky claimed to be present in the brains of babies. How long does it work or remains active? Is it available even for the adults who want to learn a second language? Do the cognitive abilities developed by the grownups help them in any way in acquiring a second language? Finally is it a good idea to follow the method of babies in the acquisition of English by the adults? Well, there is still lot of room for research in this area.
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