On Language and Languages: Honoring the Distinctions and Relationships between the Innate and the Learnable

Publication Date


Degree Name

Master of Arts in Teaching (MAT)

First Advisor

Elka Todeva


This paper differentiates between Language, the innate human capacity for representational thought, and the discrete languages through which this capacity is primarily manifested. It also acknowledges the differences between first language acquisition, which is an automatic developmental process, and second language acquisition, which is a learning process dependent upon the learner's volition. This work challenges the popular assumption that first and second language acquisition are identical or very similar processes. The purpose of articulating these distinctions is to provide the second language teacher with a useful framework for principled teaching.


Bilingual, Multilingual, and Multicultural Education

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