What are the differences between learning the first and second languages?
The table below shows a comparison of an infant learning his or her own language and a typical ESL1 student joining FIS in grade 7 with very little prior knowledge of English.
|First language||Second language (English)|
|Time available:||24/7||about 8 hours a day|
|Teachers:||family, relatives, friends||FIS teachers, family, peers|
|Target:||comprehension, communication||comprehension, communication, academic success|
|Motivation:||very high||usually high|
|Advantages:||low pressure, context-embedded, teacher patience, lack of inhibition||knowledge about language/the world; greater cognitive abilities|
|Disadvantages:||undeveloped cognitive abilities, no knowledge of language or the world||high pressure, context-reduced, inhibition|
|Outcome:||age 5 - perfect fluency/pronunciation/grammar; peer-competitive vocabulary||age 17 - variable fluency/pronunciation/grammar; limited vocabulary; (academic success)|
There's more about this on the ESL website.