Learning vs Acquisition
The two words Learning and Acquisition can be better explained in learning a language. The inborn capacity to learn languages is a human characteristic that distinguishes them from other primates. For us, communication is not merely the ability to make others understand our intentions and feelings by using signals or sounds in an arbitrary method, but rather it is the ability to combine various sounds to produce meaningful words and sentences. Linguists, however, make differences between the way we acquire and the manner in which we learn languages. Mostly it is the mother tongue that is acquired while second languages are learnt. What is the difference between the two methods and why do linguists prefer to make students acquire rather than try and learn languages? Let us find out.
The acquisition method of acquiring a language is one by which every child learns his mother tongue. Here, he is not taught grammar the manner he is given lessons when he ultimately goes to school. However, it is easy to see that, without any instructions, children learn the native language and do not make grammatical mistakes during conversations. They learn the language through a subconscious process where they know nothing about rules of grammar but know intuitively what is right and wrong or learn through a trial and error method. Constant communication is what makes acquiring the lessons of the mother tongue easier for kids.
Children learn the language as communication is a must for them to survive. They are helped in this endeavor a great deal by the innate capacity of human beings to acquire a language. Though parents never explain the concepts of grammar, the child learns and masters them on his own with the help of exposure to communication in the language. The basic tool needed for language acquisition is a source of communication that is natural.
Learning of a language is the formal teaching methodology that can be seen in the form of instructions explaining the rules of the language. Here, the emphasis is on the form of language rather than text and the teachers are seen busy explaining grammar rules to students. Students are happy that they are getting a command of the grammar, and they can even take grammar test in the language they are learning. However, it is seen that knowing grammar rules is not guarantee of a good command over spoken language though the student might qualify language tests that are standardized. Sadly, most of the adult language learning is based upon this method of teaching that relies on form rather than text, and places undue importance on the rules of grammar.
What is the difference between Learning and Acquisition?
• Acquisition of a language requires meaningful communication in the language which is also called natural communication.
• Learning of a language is based upon less communication and more explanation of grammar rules.
• During acquisition, a child is not aware of grammar rules and he intuitively learns what is right or wrong as there is constant meaningful communication.
• Acquisition is subconscious while learning is conscious and deliberate.
• In acquisition, learner focuses more on text and less on form while he focuses on form alone in the learning process of a language.
• Mother tongue is mostly acquired while second language is mostly learnt.