Learning is a common term that is used many times in our daily life. However, in the field of education, the term has a special meaning. Here, it is a step-by-step process in which an individual undergoes a permanent change in terms of his or her knowledge, behaviour and various ways to deal with in order to survive in this world. For example, recall the days of your childhood, when you did not know how to ride a bicycle, or when you had just started going to school and were unaware of so many things such as the various capitals or currencies of different countries of the world. But gradually, you learnt all these things through observation, experience and learning. Learning is, therefore, a process that depends on factors such as the experience of an individual and his/her interest.
Educationists and psychologists have given various definitions of learning. According to Morgan & Gilliland, “Learning is some modification in the behaviour of the organism as a result of experience, which is retained for at least a certain period of time.” For Crow & Crow, “Learning is the acquisition of habits, knowledge and attitude,” while for Chris Argyris, “Learning is a detection and correction of error, where an error means any mismatch between our intentions and what actually happens.”
Humans start to learn as soon as they are born. They continue learning throughout their life. Learning is the acquisition of habits, knowledge, attitudes and skills. It involves new ways of doing things and adjusting to new situations. According to Skinner, “Learning includes both acquisition and retention”.
The following are the main characteristics of learning:
► It is a lifelong process that begins at birth.
► It causes a permanent change in human behaviour. In other words, learning takes place when there is a change in the behaviour of the individual.
► It is a purposeful and goal-oriented process.
► It is a universal process. Humans as well as animals go through the process of learning. Animals learn slower than humans, but they also react to the environment and adjust accordingly.
► It is the result of experiences gained various level.
Becoming an effective and efficient learner is not something that happens overnight. It involves regular and organised practices. Some methods of effective learning are as follows:
► By performing tasks
► By experimenting
► By observing
► By working in groups or teams
Not everyone learns at the same rate or speed. How quickly a person is able to learn something depends on certain factors.
These factors can be divided into three categories, which are as follows:
► Factors related to Teacher ► Teacher’s command over the subject ► Teacher’s experience with handling students and expertise in teaching the subject ► Teacher’s personality and attitude ► Teacher’s behaviour with students ► Teacher’s use of educational technology
► Factors related to Learner ► Learner’s interest towards the subject or learning material ► Learner’s level of motivation towards learning ► Learner’s efficiency or capacity ► Learner’s intellectual level
► Factors related to the environment, teaching materials and human resource ► Availability of appropriate material to facilitate the learning process ► Quiet, calm and peaceful environment to make the learning process effective ► Structure and size of the classroom. The number of students in a classroom also affects the learning process.
Learning is a gradual process consisting of various stages.
These stages can be listed as follows:
► Stage 1: Acquisition In this stage, the learner learns a new skill or concept. At this stage, the rate of learning is too slow and the learner requires a lot of reinforcement.
► Stage 2: Proficiency In this stage, the learner learns a new task with a higher degree of accuracy. He/she learns it through a lot of practice.
► Stage 3: Expertisation In this stage, the learner becomes an expert in the chosen task. In other words, he/she no longer requires guidance to perform the task.
► Stage 4: Generalisation In this stage, the learner is able to use the acquired skill to solve problems or complete tasks in situations other than those in which he/she had learnt the skill.
The terms ‘learning’ and ‘acquisition’ are complementary.
According to Crow & Crow, “Learning is the acquisition of habits, knowledge and attitude.” In other words, acquisition is the process of learning, in which a learner is prepared to inculcate the learnt behaviour permanently.
Language acquisition is the process by which language capability develops in an individual. In this process, a child acquires his mother tongue, which is usually referred to as the first language, native language or L1. According to Menon and Patel, “Mother tongue is the basis of all work”.
Acquisition of second language deals with gaining the skills of an additional language or L2. As L1 is the language that a child acquires first, it is also called First Language Acquisition (FLA).
L2, on the other hand, is also called New Language Learning
A child gains FLA or L1 from infancy as part of his/her normal development. For example, in English, the acquisition of ‘wh’- questions consists of the following stages in a child:
Stage 1: Wh-word + Noun (phrase) + Main verb Example: Where Mama going?
Stage 2: Wh-word + Noun (phrase) + Auxiliary + Main verb Example: Where Mama is going?
Stage 3: Wh-word + Auxiliary + Noun (phrase) + Main verb Example: Where is Mama going?
There are five stages in the acquisition of L2. These stages can be listed as follows:
► Stage 1: Silent Stage Time duration: 0 to 6 months In this stage, the learner has a vocabulary of more than 300 words. However, he/she may not say much because he/she is still new to and uncomfortable with his/her environment or surroundings or reluctant to produce words and make sentences in the new language. Thus, this period is known as the silent period.
► Stage 2: Early Production Stage Time duration: 6 months to 1 year In this stage, the learner may learn how to communicate with the help of one- or two-word phrases but understands a variety of questions asked from him/her.
► Stage 3: Speech Emergence Stage Time duration: 1 to 2 years In this stage, the learner has learnt how to use short phrases and simple sentences to communicate with others. He/she also tries to use longer sentences but makes mistakes.
► Stage 4: Intermediate Language Proficiency Stage Time duration: 2 to 3 years In this stage, the learner learns to use more complex sentences for communication. However, he/she still has some doubts that need clarification.
► Stage 5: Advanced Language Proficiency Stage Time duration: 3 to 5 years In this stage, the learner is capable of using the vocabulary of the language in the classroom environment or daily life.
Answer the following questions by selecting the most appropriate option.
6. Walls built to protect us ultimately turn into a prison. It is an example of a ________.
1. Learning depends on ________.
(2) parental attitude
(3) genetic order
2. A rhetorical question is asked
(1) to gather personal information.
(2) to clarify a concept.
(3) for the sake of effect with no answer needed.
(4) to get a feedback about what others think about your speech/writing.
3. Suppose a student lacks accuracy in the task he/she has learned. At what stage of the learning process would someone generally face this problem?
4. ‘Students need to brainstorm ideas, organise them, draft, edit and revise their work,’ is a ‘process’ which reflects ________.
(1) reading skills
(2) writing skills
(3) listening skills
(4) speaking skills
5. Problems in learning a language arise due to lack of
(1) teaching aids
(2) materials used
(3) teaching technology
(4) teacher’s competence
6. Match the following:
1. Silent stage a. 1 to 2 years
2. L2 advance proficiency stage
b. 6 months to 1 year
3. Early production stage c. 0 to 6 months
4. Speech emergence stage
d. 3 to 5 years
5. L2 intermediate proficiency stage
e. 2 to 3 years
1. 2. 3. 4. 5.
(1) c b d a e
(2) b a c e d
(3) a d e a c
(4) c d b a e
7. A lot of practice is required in the ____________ stage to develop mastery of a skill.
8. Acquisition of language comes under the domain of
9. Which of the following is the last stage of second language acquisition or L2?
(1) Advanced language proficiency
(2) Intermediate language proficiency
10. Who said, “Learning includes both acquisition and retention”?
(2) Crow & Crow
(4) Morgan and Gilliand
11. Which one the following is a stage of learning?
(1) Silent stage
(2) Generalisation stage
(3) Speech emergence stage
(4) Early production stage
12. At which stage of learning is the rate of learning very slow?
13. Which of the following is not a stage of learning?
14. Young learners will enjoy a play included in the textbook when they
(1) enact the play
(2) get detailed explanations about the play from the teacher
(3) read the play silently
(4) listen to the teacher reading the play