The terms acquisition and learning both are highly related with the language, but functionally they are distinctive from each other.
'Acquisition requires meaningful interaction in the target language natural communication in which speakers are concerned not with the form of their utterances but with the message they are conveying and understanding' This is the definition by one of the famous linguistic named Stephen Krashen. He believed that language acquisition refers to the process of natural assimilation, involving intuition and sub- conscious learning where the learner is an active participant. It is the way children learn their native tongue, a process that produces functional skills in the spoken language without theoretical knowledge, develop familiarity with the phonetic characteristic of the language as well as its structure and vocabulary is responsible for oral understanding the capacity for creative communication and to the identification of cultural values. In the second language acquisition approach teaching and learning are viewed as activities that happen in a personal psychological plane. A classic example of second language acquisition involves adolescents and young adults who live abroad for a year in an exchange program, attaining near native fluency, while knowing little about the language in majority of cases. They have a good pronunciation without a notion of phonology or grammar but they intuitively recognize and know how to use all the structures. The best methods are therefore those that supply comprehensible input in low anxiety situations, containing messages that students really want to hear. The methods do not force early production in the second language, but allow students to produce when they are ready recognizing that improvement comes from supplying communicative and comprehensible input and not from forcing and correcting production.
The concept of language learning is linked to the traditional approach to the study of language and today is still generally practiced in high schools. Attention is focused on the language in its written form and the objective is for the student to understand the structure and rules of the language through the application of intellect and logical deductive reasoning. The form is of greater importance than communication. Teaching and learning are technical and governed by a formal instructional plan with a pre determined syllabus. One studies the theory in the absence of the practical. One values the correct and represses the incorrect. There is little room for spontaneity. The teacher is an authority figure and the participation of the student is predominantly passive.
In the teaching of English the student will study the function of the interrogative and negative modes irregular verbs etc. The English course seeks to transmit to the student knowledge about the language its functioning and grammatical structure with its irregularities, its contrasts with the students native language, knowledge that hopefully will produce the practical skills of understanding and sleeking the language. This effort of accumulating knowledge becomes frustrating because of the lack of familiarity with the language. Innumerable graduates with arts degree in English are classic examples of language learning. They often are trained and theoretically able to teach a language which they can not use for communication.
Through understanding the terms acquisition and learning, we find similarities and differences between acquisition of the first language and learning of the second language. The major differences are as follows:
1) Experience with another language:
In the process of learning a second language, a learner experiences something different from his mother tongue. The first language has no experience with another language, while the learner of the second language has already learnt one language in his child hood. In the second language, he finds different vocabulary; grammar structures and so on are totally different from his mother tongue.
2) Process of learning:
Learning of the first language is a natural process. A person learns his mother tongue in a natural way. There is the strongest social compulsion for the child, to pick up his mother tongue. For the second language learner, the compulsion may not be strong and the class rooms activities helping him to learn may be artificial graded and selected items are exposed.
3) Need to express:
The individuals does not get fulfillment until he expresses his ideas with others. So, he has to communicate with others. Thus, first language learner can express his ideas with others, but the second language learner can not express his ideas, thoughts and feelings in second language.
In the first language the learner can get very good exposure because lot of people for the child and the child acquires his mother tongue and the person at his job acquiring language all through his working hours. He gets exposure from the people that surrounding him there is no time limit. The second language learner in many cases is exposed only to the teacher’s language and he learns only for a few hours in a week.
5) Time limit:
In first language acquisition one has a choice of time that means the learner decided his time that when to learn. Nobody can force him because it happen in society whereas second language learner has to keep in the mind in the mind the time of teacher. And he is forced by his teachers to learn. So, first language learner learns by his own language learner has to keep in mind the time given by the expert.
6) No fear, full of fun: desire whereas second
No parents punish their children for committing mistakes and both the children and the parents enjoy the whole process of learning. When a child speaks a single word or part of the word, they treat as a meaningful unit recognizing what the child wants to say while in the second language, the learner has to keep in mind that there should be not any mistake. If he commits mistakes, he may be punished. So, there is a fear remain in his mind.
L1 Acquisition is genetically triggered at the most critical stage of the Childs cognitive development
L2 learning is not genetically triggered in any way unless the child grows bilingually
The "Engine" of language it's systemic system - is "information ally encapsulated" which means that children are not even aware of developing a complex, ruled governed hierarchical system Most L1 speakers do not even realized. this is what they are using
The syntax of L2 is not acquired unconsciously or at last not it the way L1 syntax acquired. Few L2 learner develop the same degree of unconscious ruled govern insight in to and use of the L2, Which they demonstrate with the L1.
The L1 is typically acquired at the crucial period of cognitive developments properly when L1 and other critical life skills are also acquired or learnt.
The L2 is not learnt as part of the learner's general cognitive development. It is not an essential life skill in same way the L1 is
Children never resist L1
There is often great conscious and unconscious resistance in L2 learning.
Given even minimal "input" during critical development, all humans acquired the L1 if the society or social group. They are born into, as a natural and essential part of their life.
Many highly intelligent individuals with impressive learning skills often have great problems in learning L2 Many L2 learners fossilize at some stage so that, even if they use the L2 regularly, and are constantly exposed to “Input" in it, they fail to develop full grammatical or "generative" competence.
L1 acquisition is an essential, biological and driven process, It is part of every individual’s development in the most critical stages of acquisition and essential life skills
L2 learning is not a biological driven process. It is not essential aspect of an individual's general development, especially when L2 is simply another subject on an already over loaded school curriculum or something that has to be undertaken by people with busy lives and heavy workloads.
In his books" Problems of Principles" Abercomble David discusses about the similarities in the process of acquiring the first language and learning a second language which are as follows.
Ø In both L1 acquisition and L2 learning it is necessary to be exposed to a language considerable time is repeated by both in listening to exposure attentively trying to process the data and making an attempt to express once ideas and comparing it with the exposure.
Ø Many research studies have proved that there is a natural development process which both the L1 and L2 learners go through and there are a lot of similarity especially in acquiring negatives and interrogatives L1 and L2 learner go through more or less a similar process.
Ø Both languages are the medium expressing ones ideas filling and thoughts
Ø Both languages have to be learnt e.g. first language learnt in society whereas second language is learnt in schools, colleges and institute.
Ø First language is learner can also learnt second language if it is taught naturally it has an exposure like first language in short both languages wants an environment.
Ø In both language this ideas are exchanged means interaction text place in both languages
Ø One has to use his physically organs or organs of speech in the articulation of speech sound.
Ø Both languages demand more or less time to learn
Ø Both languages want a kind of atmosphere whether it is formal or informal .eg.L1 acquired in an informal situation where as L2 is learnt in a formal situation.
Ø In both cases language vocabulary and super segment are necessary.
Ø In both situations a learner can make mistake or error.
Ø In both learning langu8ages there should have proper environment.
From above discussion one can easily find out that there are some differences as well as similarities in language acquisition and language learning. So, both these processes are similar at the one and, they are different at another point of view. But still we have some sources which bring formal learning closer to acquisition