Language acquisition is the process of children acquiring a language through a subconscious process during which they are unaware of grammatical rules. This happens especially when they acquire their first language. They repeat what is said to them and get a feel of what is correct and what is not. In order to acquire a language, they need a source of natural communication. Language learning, on the other hand, is the result of direct instruction in the rules of language. Language learning is not an age appropriate activity for very young children as learning presupposes that learners have a conscious knowledge of the new language and can talk about that knowledge.
At Language Lab Academy, our number one goal is language acquisition! Unlike many dual language programs, we teach 95% in the target language. Because our classes and curriculum are geared towards “output”, verbal communication, our students are able to retain the target language much faster and are able to converse sooner.
Children may go through a silent period when acquiring a second language, which happens as they focus on listening to and comprehending the new language. This can last anywhere from a few weeks to a year, depending on the age of the child. But there is no reason to be alarmed as they usually sort themselves out.
It is true that kids might be confused a little bit at the beginning, when there are two different labels for things, or they need to use different languages to talk to different people. It can be normal for children learning more than one language to experience what’s known as “interference” — when the grammar and structure of one language influences the grammar of the other language they are learning, which leads to grammatical errors. This is not a language disorder, but a normal part of learning two languages.
The best way for a child to learn a new language is for him/her to hear people speaking it fluently. Our immersive language programs gives students hundreds of hours of effectively communicating with our language specialists in the target language. The longer they are exposed to authentic conversations, they’ll begin to pick up the sounds and the natural accent.