Language Acquisition Vs. Language Learning

Language Acquisition Vs. Language Learning

What is language learning?

The answer to the question everyone knows. It is almost a lifelong process of learning a new language.

And do you know what language acquisition is? What does that mean and what does it include?

Now, this one is a bit challenging.

Language acquisition is language learning, but it actually isn't. It is the capacity to receive and understand a language.

Not to confuse you, but there's a difference between these two expressions. 

Many people use these expressions when they want to explain language learning or vice versa, which is completely wrong. 

To understand the difference between language acquisition and language learning, we will provide you with the details about language acquisition and language learning, how they are similar and are they the same or two entirely different terms. Moreover, you will see for yourself which way is better to achieve native fluency.

Let's dive in.

What is Language Acquisition?

Language acquisition is a natural process of learning a language, usually your native language.

It is a process when a person from his very first beginnings, as a baby, acquires patterns and rules of his primary language, memorizes words and expressions, and learns to pronounce them.

This happens subconsciously when babies aren't aware of it.

Language acquisition happens through memorization and repetition.

When a person, that is, a baby acquires a language, the source of communication is absolutely necessary, which are, in the first place, mother and father.

Kids who grow up in multicultural families, hear more languages at the same time. They acquire them the same way as they would acquire one language. They memorize what they hear, without explaining grammar rules and patterns, for example, or teaching about abstract things.

In language acquisition, there is no need for direct language teaching and explanations of how the language works.

Parents, for example, show their kids with verbal communication and body language how to speak it. They repeat phrases, expressions, and sentences regularly to the children, and over time, they slowly acquire them one by one.

What Is Language Learning?

Compared to language acquisition, language learning doesn’t depend on age.

As you’ve seen, language acquisition starts from an early age, when the baby slowly acquires the language.

Language learning happens upon direct instructions and explanations of the language rules, patterns, and exceptions.

In language learning, people are aware of the learning concept and they intentionally learn it.

People are taught by others, preferably by professional tutors or native speakers. Language immersion is also one of the helpful ways of learning a language.

Language learners have the basic knowledge of grammar and pronunciation, which usually comes from their native language. It helps them understand the whole concept of grammar, pronunciation, reading, writing, and so on.

Language learners are aware of how important word order is in a sentence, why they should learn grammar patterns and exceptions, and how practicing to speak with native speakers helps them learn their target language.

Unlike language acquisition, language learning isn’t a natural process where you ‘learn’ the language by remembering and repeating.

Well, remembering and repeating, yes, but in an entirely different way than language acquisition.

Reading And Writing Skills As Basics in Language Learning

Learning to read and write doesn’t come naturally. 

Language learners have to learn what sounds, signs, and letters represent, how to put them together, and learn how to read them.

Besides letters combination which helps us understand the meaning and learn to express our thoughts, in language learning, we study word order in sentences, their meanings, and the fact when intonation changes, what that means, and how to use it. That way, we learn that a sentence or a paragraph’s unity can have different meanings, which again depends on contexts.

Reading and writing skills are the essentials of further language learning. When we learn to read and write in our target language, we can move forward and improve our other language skills.

Reading can help you sound like a native speaker, while writing is important for any language learner because not only will you improve your other language skills, but you will also learn about the people that speak the target language a lot.

Language Acquisition Vs. Language Learning

Even though they sound almost the same, language acquisition and language learning are two different things. They aren’t completely different though because both of them are somehow connected to learning a language.

Here is an overview of the main differences between language acquisition and language learning.

  • Language acquisition is a natural process, while language learning is intentional.
  • Language acquisition doesn’t rely on grammar rules and patterns, that is, a person doesn’t learn grammar and other language skills the way language learners do. 
  • Language learning includes a learning process where a person is aware of the importance of all language skills, from learning to read and write to improving vocabulary.
  • In language acquisition a person, that is, a kid usually controls the learning path, while in language learning that part of control is on the teacher.
  • Language acquisition starts from an early age, usually at home, where repetition is absolutely necessary. Language learning usually doesn’t start from an early age, and it can happen at home, but not necessarily.
  • Language learners are aware of their learning process and their intention to improve it, even on a daily basis.

Final Thoughts

So, what do you think, which language learning method is better, language acquisition or language learning? Which way will you become fluent faster?

By language acquisition, you are surrounded by the language all the time but it takes time since you don’t learn it intentionally.

By language learning, you will need days and weeks to learn the language and achieve the desired level of proficiency. 

Both ways are equally efficient and for both of them, it takes time. Learning a language isn’t a magical thing and it can’t happen overnight.

What is Language Acquisition?

Language acquisition is a natural process of learning a language, usually your native language. It is a process when a person from his very first beginnings, as a baby, acquires patterns and rules of his primary language, memorizes words and expressions, and learns to pronounce them. This happens subconsciously when babies aren't aware of it. Language acquisition happens through memorization and repetition. When a person, that is, a baby acquires a language, the source of communication is absolutely necessary, which are, in the first place, mother and father. Kids who grow up in multicultural families, hear more languages at the same time. They acquire them the same way as they would acquire one language. They memorize what they hear, without explaining grammar rules and patterns, for example, or teaching about abstract things. In language acquisition, there is no need for direct language teaching and explanations of how the language works. Parents, for example, show their kids with verbal communication and body language how to speak it. They repeat phrases, expressions, and sentences regularly to the children, and over time, they slowly acquire them one by one.

What Is Language Learning?

Compared to language acquisition, language learning doesn’t depend on age. As you’ve seen, language acquisition starts from an early age, when the baby slowly acquires the language. Language learning happens upon direct instructions and explanations of the language rules, patterns, and exceptions. In language learning, people are aware of the learning concept and they intentionally learn it. People are taught by others, preferably by professional tutors or native speakers. Language immersion is also one of the helpful ways of learning a language. Language learners have the basic knowledge of grammar and pronunciation, which usually comes from their native language. It helps them understand the whole concept of grammar, pronunciation, reading, writing, and so on. Language learners are aware of how important word order is in a sentence, why they should learn grammar patterns and exceptions, and how practicing to speak with native speakers helps them learn their target language. Unlike language acquisition, language learning isn’t a natural process where you ‘learn’ the language by remembering and repeating. Well, remembering and repeating, yes, but in an entirely different way than language acquisition.

What's the difference between language acquisition and language learning?

Even though they sound almost the same, language acquisition and language learning are two different things. They aren’t completely different though because both of them are somehow connected to learning a language. Here is an overview of the main differences between language acquisition and language learning. Language acquisition is a natural process, while language learning is intentional. Language acquisition doesn’t rely on grammar rules and patterns, that is, a person doesn’t learn grammar and other language skills the way language learners do. Language learning includes a learning process where a person is aware of the importance of all language skills, from learning to read and write to improving vocabulary. In language acquisition a person, that is, a kid usually controls the learning path, while in language learning that part of control is on the teacher. Language acquisition starts from an early age, usually at home, where repetition is absolutely necessary. Language learning usually doesn’t start from an early age, and it can happen at home, but not necessarily. Language learners are aware of their learning process and their intention to improve it, even on a daily basis.

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