Vocabulary in Second Language Acquisition


What is Second Language Acquisition?

In simple term it means accidental learning of a second language other than your mother tongue. 'Mother tongue’ is the first language of an individual, i.e. language one grows up listening to and being exposed to at all times at home and outside. Thus second lingo acquisition takes some efforts from learner's side. So, does it mean 2nd language acquisition cannot just happen but with some conscious learning?


In technical terms mother tongue is referred as L-1 whereas second language is referred as L-2. But, Why does second language acquisition happens after all? and what are THE main causes for it?


United Nations recognizes six languages, Arabic, Chinese (Mandarin), English, French, Russian, Spanish, these are used in UN meetings and all UN documents are written in these languages.


English and French are the working languages at the UN secretariat.


First language acquisition is the language one hears right from the time when inside the womb until he/she is able to speak that language. However, in a bilingual or multilingual home where an individual grows up with more than one language, he/she develops language rules/ language system for those many languages. Actually, the language which used most turns out to be the dominant lingo with native like competency in that language and other language will remain to be the second language with near native competency.


Most teachers of English as a second language recommend learning these word lists for basic and academic learning.

Did you know all the languages of the world are ruled by same basic principles of grammar and these are innate in all humans?

Universal Grammar is a well known language acquisition/ linguistic theory by Noam Chomsky. According to this theory all humans are born with a Language Learning Device and are also wired to learn grammar.

So, does it mean second language acquisition happens without conscious learning?


Yes and No.


There isn't a definitive answer to this because we do learn our first language without being taught. But this kind of L-1 acquisition comes with limited capacity. For example, if not taught we will not be able to read or write in L-1.


Similarly, in the case of second language acquisition/ learning does take place depending on the extent of exposure and conscious learning of the language. In strict linguistic sense there is a difference between ‘Acquisition and Learning’.

Out of 6000-7000 different languages spoken in the world today, there are billions of people in the world with native like competency in more than one language.

Why does second language acquisition happens?


In today’s time it’s inevitable.


We live in a ‘jet set go’ age where it has become a necessity for most people to know more than one language. The world has become a global village with internet, technological advancement and faster modes of transportation. Multinational Companies recruit and relocate their employees in any corner of the world. Thus, bilingualism or multilingualism has become by-product of the changing times.

Moreover, a whole new set of modern ideologies has swept across the world. Individuality is the hallmark of this era. I mean we see more cross Cultural/ National alliances today than ever before.

Look at the inter-cast, inter-religion, inter-national marriages. Consequently we see a large number of families which speak more than one language. In such bilingual set up, it is a common feature to see one language as the dominant or main language and the other as the second language of the household.

Of course English is the lingua franca of the world.

Is English Second Language or First Language for you?


In either case you would need a good number of vocabulary words to excel in your field. Take a look at this e- book wordlists free download and decide words for learning.


ESL Vocabulary (English as a Second Language) learners need to pay special attention to the pronunciation, spelling and usage of the words because; most ESL users carry influences of their mother tongue to their second language vocabulary like- sentence structure, pronunciation etc.

Therefore, if you know how language acquisition happens or second language learning takes place, you can use some of the elements of L-1 or your first language to learn vocabulary in ESL in a more natural fashion.


What are the main reasons for Second Language Acquisition

Two main reasons for mandatory learning English as a second language are:

1. Because of School educational policy.

2. Work requirement.

3. You moved to a new country and had to learn Country's language, a second language for you to survive or you picked up that language subconsciously by simply being present there.



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Oxford English Dictionary publishes new word updates and revised word meanings, on March, June,September and December every year. For instance, in March 2012, it added:
bit bucket n. An An imaginary trash location, example, "it fell into the bit bucket" means the data was lost.

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