The Role of Universal Grammar in Second Language Learning

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Universal Grammar has been one of the most debated subjects in linguistics since its origin in 1976. As to its function in first linguistic communication acquisition. UG has already established a name because it has to the full explained why kids are able to larn their female parent lingua or any other linguistic communication in such an easy and rapid manner. However. in footings of 2nd linguistic communication acquisition. more arguments are still in advancement. The bright side in all of these is that despite the uncertainnesss and guesss on the function of UG in 2nd linguistic communication acquisition. it has been developed into a fruitful attack towards 2nd linguistic communication instruction in the rule of minimal art.

In this attack. 2nd linguistic communication practicians have acknowledged the fact that all linguistic communications portion a common denominator which is consistent in all linguistic communications except for assorted parametric quantities. This attack has based its technique on developing competency in vocabulary which is one of the most of import parametric quantity that needs to be learned and mastered in order to accomplish a native-like competency in 2nd linguistic communication acquisition. Universal Grammar as a Concept

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The construct of the Universal Grammar ( UG ) is celebrated to be postulated by Noam Chomsky in 1976 as “the system of rules. conditions. and regulations that are elements or belongingss of all human languages… the kernel of human linguistic communication ( Cook et al. 1996 ) ” . Within this theory. it is believed that all human existences have a cognitive cognition of the linguistic communication that they speak. Whichever their linguistic communication is. all worlds possess a common denominator when it comes to linguistic communication acquisition: Cosmopolitan Grammar. Its chief concern is how the internal construction of the human head.

It holds the theory that talkers of a linguistic communication know a set of rules that is similar to talkers of all linguistic communications and parametric quantities that varies from talkers of different linguistic communication. These parametric quantities will so be the ground of the fluctuation and restrictions of each linguistic communication ( Cook et al. 1996 ) . In a nutshell. cosmopolitan grammar is non a grammar in itself. it is merely a set of conditions that possible grammars are said to conform. It is merely an abstract design for the building of grammars of whatever linguistic communication possible. Furthermore. it is besides the 1 that allows fluctuation in linguistic communications which is controlled by parametric quantities in of assorted linguistic communications.

These parametric quantities are controlled by the Universal Grammar. For case. there is a parametric quantity that would let a nothing topic such as in Italian linguistic communication. This sort of parametric quantity conforms to the general grammar / cosmopolitan grammar of similar linguistic communications that does the same ( Jordens et al. 1996 ) . Chomsky and his followings claimed that the competency of talkers in their native linguistic communication is an unconditioned linguistic communication that is endowed genetically in persons. For case. kids come to get a specific linguistic communication because they already posses a general linguistic communication on how languages work.

This innate cognition is what Chomsky called linguistic communication module which is defined as “a constituent of the human head. physically represented in the encephalon and portion of the biological gift of the species ( Saville-Troike. 2006 ) ” . This is the chief ground why kids get linguistic communication apart from the fact that the societal scene serves as an input that makes them to the full learn the linguistic communication that their parents talk. In other words. Universal Grammar guides how kids learn their first linguistic communication aboard the input that they receive from their environment ( Saville-Troike. 2006 ) .

It has already been established that kids are able to unconsciously construe and unconsciously analyze the input they receive to be able to build an appropriate first linguistic communication grammar. L1 acquisition has ever been comparatively rapid and successful compared to 2nd linguistic communication acquisition because UG has guided them to ne’er go against a rule of linguistic communication acquisition and utilizing. For case. kids knows without their parents learning them that in every linguistic communication. a phrase consists of the same elements such as the Head. that is. a noun phrase should hold a noun as a caput and a verb phrase should hold a verb phrase.

The lone thing that kids have to work out would be the parametric quantities that distinguish one linguistic communication from another. For case. kids who are larning English as a first linguistic communication would finally detect through inputs from the environment that the linguistic communication has a head-initial parametric quantity puting. On one manus. kids larning Nipponese as their first linguistic communication would besides larn through inputs from the environment that the linguistic communication has a head-final parametric quantity. The function of the Universal Grammar in geting first linguistic communication has been really unafraid for a long clip.

However. there have been arguments and challenges sing the function of the Universal Grammar in the acquisition of a 2nd linguistic communication ( Saville-Troike. 2006 ) . Universal Grammar and First Language Acquisition First linguistic communication acquisition happens when a scholar particularly a kid acquires a linguistic communication for the first clip in which he/ she will utilize to pass on his/her demands and wants as he/ she grew up. The acquisition of a first linguistic communication is bound with the child’s cognitive and societal development. Because of this. there are a figure of differences between first linguistic communication acquisition and 2nd linguistic communication acquisition ( Klein. 1986 ) .

When it comes to cognitive development. it can be concluded that the production of grammatical vocalizations does non intend that the talker has already mastered the linguistic communication because even when the talker has already displayed a competency in the linguistic communication. there is a inclination that these vocalizations will be given by the talker different significance. It can besides be inferred that the talker has already acquired the cognitive classs which is the ground why they are able to show themselves in the linguistic communication.

This cognitive facet of larning a first linguistic communication is non needfully available in the 2nd linguistic communication larning which makes the two different ( Klein. 1986 ) . In footings of societal development. larning a native linguistic communication is one of the child’s gateways in going a fully-fledged member of a peculiar society. Through societal inputs. the kid will enable to show his feelings in such a manner that it is socially accepted. For case. a kid will larn from what he observed from his environment that he can non talk his head at all times and at all fortunes.

Because of linguistic communication. a kid is able to get cultural. moral. spiritual. and values of the society. Furthermore. a first linguistic communication scholar would happen it easy to larn the elaboratenesss of the linguistic communication because along with it he/she is larning the civilization and individuality of its talkers. This is non the instance with 2nd linguistic communication larning which will be explained subsequently ( Klein. 1986 ) . Another of import thing in the difference between first and 2nd linguistic communication acquisition would be the Language Acquisition Device ( LAD ) which is considered to be the ground why first linguistic communication acquisition returns speedy and easy.

This is where Universal Grammar comes in the facet of first linguistic communication acquisition. The construct of the LAD is besides postulated by Noam Chomsky in relation to the UG. The researches on LAD for the past 30 old ages have contended that any normal kid has a cognitive device that is responsible for it to get the hang the grammar of its native linguistic communication in a short clip. There is grounds that proves this such as the capableness of every kid to larn any linguistic communication. This lead to the decision that there are unconditioned constructions that is common to every linguistic communication which is normally referred to as the Universal Grammar.

The UG would merely represent a figure of general rules and there are still specific characteristics that are alone in every linguistic communication. For case. there are characteristics that would distinguish Chinese from English such as vocabulary. morphology. and sentence structure ( Klein. 1986 ) . Universal Grammar and Second Language Acquisition Second linguistic communication acquisition ( SLA ) is a comparatively immature field in the survey of linguistic communication. It is defined as the acquisition of a non-primary linguistic communication or a linguistic communication that is beyond the native linguistic communication of a talker ( Gass et al. 2008 ) .

It is interesting to observe that 2nd linguistic communication acquisition is a whole new field in relation to linguistic communication acquisition because how a kid larn his first linguistic communication would non be the same as the procedure on which an grownup learn another linguistic communication. There are a figure of factors as to how this happened. First of which would be the so called critical period on which worlds have the greater ability to larn a linguistic communication. Second would be the factor of guided acquisition in the instance of SLA and the self-generated acquisition for first linguistic communication acquisition. Guided acquisition is said to be derivative because it is non learned in the class of mundane communicating.

In add-on. the acquisition of the linguistic communication is besides non embedded in a relevant situational context. In this procedure. the stuff for larning the linguistic communication is supplied in a digested signifier. Despite the move to a more communicative attack to 2nd linguistic communication instruction. still it can non copy and copy entirely the first linguistic communication acquisition spontaneousness. Finally. there is besides a factor on societal individuality which is considered as an obstruction to larning a 2nd linguistic communication because more or less a speaker’s societal individuality is already fixed within his/ her first linguistic communication.

When there is a desire to continue that societal individuality that is connected to the first linguistic communication. there is a trouble in absorbing the 2nd linguistic communication into the system ( Klein. 1986 ) . However. 2nd linguistic communication scholars face a parallel undertaking as that of first linguistic communication scholars. Like L1 scholars. L2 scholars need to get at a lingual system so that they could account for the L2 input and finally larn the linguistic communication. The first surveies on the relation of UG and L2 larning focused on the entree issue which answers the inquiry on whether or non the Universal Grammar still has a function in non-primary acquisition.

There have been varied places on this. There is a place that says that L2 scholars have entree to UG which means that L2 scholars can get at of import belongingss of the 2nd linguistic communication independent to that of the grammar of their first linguistic communication. This peculiar place is called the direct entree. Another place called the indirect entree posits the thought that L2 scholars have entree to the rules and parametric quantities of the UG of the 2nd linguistic communication through both UG and L1. The entree is said to be fostered by L1 with a possibility of reconstituting it in the visible radiation of the influence of the L2 input and environment.

Although. there are legion places on the possibility of UG impacting 2nd linguistic communication acquisition. this paper will look into on how UG can help in the development of theories sing effectual 2nd linguistic communication acquisition ( White. 2003 ) . Development of Language Theories on the Influence of Universal Grammar in Second Language Acquisition Since SLA has been a comparatively immature field. the UG theory has non been constructed for the intent of explicating the construct of SLA because it is reasonably much prevalent on L1 account.

However. it turned out through the class of several surveies that it is after all relevant in the sphere of 2nd linguistic communication acquisition. The first theory posited in this claim is that L2 behaviour is said to follow the belongingss inherent to linguistic communication module of worlds themselves. In the full entree hypothesis. it is argued by linguists that L2 scholar has a 2nd transcript of UG which they build on as they learn their non-primary linguistic communication. In this instance. the scholar can construct an L2 grammar from abrasion the same manner as he has constructed his first.

This thought would besides situate the thought that L1 acquisition is similar to that of L2 but L1 does non anything to make with the acquisition of the 2nd linguistic communication. For case. L2 scholars are found to cognize rules and parametric quantities that they have non known earlier such as the test-case done on Nipponese pupils larning English. The Nipponese linguistic communication does hold motion within the sentence buildings. The experiment tests whether or non L1 impedes the acquisition of L2 among Nipponese larning English. The survey shows that the Japanese were 95. 1 per cent correct on the trials which meant that L2 larning cab have a UG on their ain.

In the partial entree theory. L2 larning procedure is consisted with L1 grammar and UG. However. there are losing elements and classs in these two that need to be filled by L2 input such as functional classs like ( Cook. 1996 ) . Furthermore. there are enquiries as to why 2nd linguistic communication scholars rarely achieve the competency of the native talkers of the targeted linguistic communication. UG plays an of import function in explicating this phenomenon. It might be that L2 learner’s cognition of grammar is still a human linguistic communication within the remits if UG rules and parametric quantities.

UG is still available in 2nd linguistic communication acquisition. it merely ensue into a different grammar that the leaner has already acquired in his first linguistic communication ( Cook. 1996 ) . The procedure of SLA is said to be the same as that of L1 acquisition. merely that in add-on to it. L2 scholars are faced with a job on geting at the abstract and complex belongingss of grammar that is non determined by L2 input. If those belongingss are learned by L2 scholars without input. this means that UG constrains interlanguage grammars ( White. 2006 ) .

In footings of SLA. UG is more helpful in 2nd linguistic communication learning sphere. It explained the deficiency of success on geting 2nd linguistic communication after puberty age. It is due to a figure of extenuating and overlapping factors which were still investigated until now. The minimal art attack is one of the research plans that aim to cerate effectual tools on 2nd linguistic communication instruction by utilizing UG. The purpose of minimal art is to supply the simplest possible Universal Grammar that can account both for linguistic communication acquisition and differences in linguistic communications.

It focuses on two things: the basic rules that the grammars of all linguistic communications must fulfill and the ways in which these rules are realized in assorted linguistic communications ( Hinkel et al. 2002 ) . Two of the most of import rules that are helpful in explicating an efficient 2nd linguistic communication learning theory and technique are found in minimal art. First is the rule of hierarchal construction. the premise in this rule is that “the formation of syntactic constructions are combined in a pair-wise manner to organize larger categories” .

This means that even the most complex construction can be built from the simplest constructions. Another rule would be the economic system of construction which postulates the thought that “there is no degree or type of construction in the grammar that is non perfectly necessary for depicting the specialized cognitive system that is human language” . These two would confirm the contention of UG that linguistic communications are the same in rules despite their differences in parametric quantities ( Hinkel et al. 2002 ) . Among the most important beginning of fluctuation in linguistic communications would be the vocabulary.

Therefore. the minimalist attack to SLA is based on the inside informations of vocabulary. In this attack. both interlingual and intralingual comparing and contrast of vocabulary is helpful in the learner’s addition of apprehension of the relevant semantic differentiations and categories in the acquisition of a 2nd or a foreign linguistic communication ( Hinkel et al. 2002 ) .


Cook. V. and Newson. M. ( 1996 ) . Chomsky’s Universal Grammar: An Introduction. Retrieved in Google Books Search: hypertext transfer protocol: //books. Google. com/books? id=Jv0eIBfhd7EC & A ; pg=PA221 & A ; dq=second+language+acquisition+and+universal+grammar & A ; ei=eYAeSsj-HI2GkQTYyuDSCA # PPA224. M1

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