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Linguistic abilities




One more factor, which influence the process of first and second language acquisition by children and adult learners is – degree of linguistic abilities development.

The problem of linguistic abilities interested many scientists both domestic, and foreign. Research of abilities to mastering foreign languages in the most developing kind have found reflections in works of Vedenyapina B. V. Gohlerner M. M., Zimnyaya I. A., Kabardov M. K., Саггоl J. B., Karpov A.F., Kaulfers W.V. , Leontev A.N., Polyanskaya O.S., Pimsluer P., Pinfield W., Solomon E., Тоdd J.W. etc.

Not all authors understand special abilities to mastering foreign language as linguistic abilities or « language abilities». So, for example, Leontyev A.A. determines language abilities as «totality of the psychological and physiological conditions providing mastering, manufacture and adequate perception of language marks by members of language collective»

Judith L. Green examines language ability «as something such, that makes ability to speak in the given language». But the author doesn’t specify, about which language there is a speech: native or foreign.

Chomsky N. considers that language ability is a congenital knowledge of grammatical system of language, universal rules, comparing semantic interpretation of the sentence with its phonetic interpretation. Mastering of this system’s rules at a unconscious level the person corrected acquires syntactic structures of language.

Language ability is considered as specific human ability to mastering the language, it is general, peculiar equally to each healthy person in all these interpretations. Any individual distinctions in success and speeds of mastering in the given definitions are not allocated with language. Therefore it is more expedient to use terms «speaking another language abilities» and «linguistic abilities» for allocation of any individual distinctions in speed and ease of mastering of foreign language more expediently.

There is also interesting fact that existence of specific abilities to mastering by a foreign language admits not as all researchers. In particular, Vedenjapina B.V. holds the opinion, that such factors, as skill to generalize (to use receptions of the analysis and synthesis), a level of development of verbal intelligence, logic and effective thinking influence on the ability of teaching to foreign languages. Proceeding from this, the author offers to diagnose the ability of teaching to foreign language by Wexler tests revealing a degree of development of the general mental faculties.

Foreign scientists Carrol J., Kaulfers W.V., Pimsluer P. adhere to other opinion, which emphasizing an essential role of the general intelligence in mastering foreign language, do not deny presence and other, special abilities, such specific features which allow learning successfully master language.

Abilities to studying foreign language differ cardinally from abilities to mastering the native language. Mastering of the native language and foreign language occurs by means of various ways, as proves this statement.

The child seizes the native language in the early childhood during dialogue with adults, «unconsciously and unintentionally». It’s well-known, that the period early ontogenesis is the most sensitive for mastering by speech as this is favored with the certain physiological preconditions. As show data Pinfield U., the bark of the big hemispheres of a brain that causes high rate of mastering by speech skills is very plastic in this period at the child. Besides Pinfield U. emphasizes, that changes of development of language abilities is identical absolutely at all people, that here there are no specific features.

Otherwise the case is somewhat different with mastering by a foreign language. First, starting to its studying, the person bases on the system of concepts of the native language already available at him. Second, the modern language, as a rule, is acquired by the individual not in natural, but in educational conditions, without the constant communications with native speakers. Here mastering by language is made absolutely in other plan, than mastering of the native language. Vygotskii L.S. believes that the person studies a modern language since comprehension and intentionality. «Mastering of foreign language goes in the way, opposite to a volume with which goes development of the native language. Development of the native language goes from below upwards while development of foreign language goes from the top downward. In the first case there are elementary, lowest properties of speech earlier and only its complex forms connected to comprehension of phonetic structure of language, its grammatical forms and any construction of speech develop later. In the second case the maximum complex properties of speech connected to comprehension and intentionality develop earlier, and only there are more elementary properties connected to spontaneous, free using by another's speech » later.

Studying of foreign language usually begin at such age when the period special susceptibilities, sensitivity to mastering by speech was already finished. However at the given age stage the maximum mental functions of the person such as the perception, memory, thinking already reach a high level of the development and can become basic "means" of mastering by the individual speech activity in foreign language that true data of psychology and psycholinguistics prove.

Thus, all told proves existence of specific linguistic abilities to mastering by a foreign language. High rate and ease of mastering of foreign language in advanced age are caused by other factors, rather than mastering of the native language in the early childhood. Thus mastering by a foreign language occurs to a support on a known level of development of speech ability on the native language.

There are various points of view about structure of linguistic abilities. First of all, it is necessary to allocate the different points of view of domestic and foreign psychologists about essence of linguistic abilities.

Foreign researchers develop a problem of linguistic abilities with reference to tasks in the field of testing, in connection with necessity of distribution of students for language classes, definitions of influence of knowledge of one foreign language on studying of another, with the requirement «revealing of individual distinctions and assignments of people for such work to which they are most capable, without a prodigal trial and error method».

Existence of special abilities to mastering foreign language which sometimes name «linguistic talent» admits as the majority of foreign psychologists. However it is necessary to notice, that speaking another language abilities are determined differently. So, Carrol J. under linguistic abilities understands amount of time which is required to the student for achievements of the certain successes in training. Thus the scientist assumes that the student has optimum motivation of educational activity and during training follows qualitative instructions.

Solomon E. in understanding of essence of linguistic abilities also puts the factor of time. She considers if trained in comparison with others for smaller or identical amount of time acquires the greater volume of a material he has the greater ability to training. The author urgently emphasizes, that any invented «the linguistic talent» does not exist, is simple in some departments of a brain there is original “readiness”, a potential opportunity of mastering of foreign language in the work.

In work of Тоdd J.W. we find an explanation of a nature of linguistic abilities, a source of their formation and development. In the scientist’s opinion, presence of abilities to mastering foreign language is predetermined by the factor of heredity. «Similarly to color of hair, their complete characteristic can be transferred from generation to generation only with little changes». The author approves that «the special talent» for one language should be accompanied and ability to studying other languages.

Foreign psychologists are unanimous that abilities to languages represent set of separate independent abilities closely connected among themselves. With the help of the factorial analysis researchers reveal those qualities of mentality of the individual which are lawful for including in structure of linguistic abilities.

Among works of the given direction the special place is taken researches of Carrol J. In opinion of the scientist, the model of speaking other language abilities can be presented as system of the following factors.

1. Phonetic coding - ability of the individual to represent by means of the certain images the heard sound material so that was available an opportunity through some of time of it to identify and recall. Carrol J. considers, that pupils with a low level of development of the given ability will experience difficulties as with storing a phonetic material (words and their forms), and in imitation of sounds of speech.

2. Grammatical sensitivity - ability to feel function of a word in different contexts. The high level of development of the given quality correctly allows the pupil to operate with forms of words, grammatically correctly to make out speaking other language statements.

3. Mechanical memory - ability to storing a speaking another language material for short time.

4. Ability to study language inductively that is to draw conclusions on language rules on the basis of several language forms and to carry out their carry on new examples

Interesting ideas concerning structure of linguistic abilities states Pimsluer P. According to his theory, the given kind of abilities includes three factors:

1. The factor of verbal intellect which is meant as knowledge vocabulary of the native language, skill to analyze a verbal material, to deduce rules on the basis of several speaking other language linguistic structures.

2. Motivation of studying of foreign language.

3. The acoustical factor determined in two various directions: as differentiation of similar sounds and as making of sound-sign conformity.

It is necessary to notice, that the role of an audiotive component in structure of linguistic abilities is marked by many foreign researchers. So, the structure of abilities includes ability to distinction inside a word of the phonemes similar on sounding. Here, as scientists approve, it is necessary skill to differentiate height, a timbre, their duration, loudness. Besides it is considered necessary for revealing a level of development of linguistic abilities to measure sensory acuity.

Also many foreign psychologists specify the high importance of verbal memory. According ideas of Тоdd J.W., «memory is the most powerful force in purchase of speaking other language skills». In opinion of the scientist, verbal memory is extremely important for mastering speaking another language vocabulary, at studying conjugations of verbs and declinations of names of nouns. Work of Clifford J. it is devoted to research of mechanical memory which the author offers to measure with the help of a technique of learning of pair associations, using as a material for storing artificial syllables. During research he comes to a conclusion about existence of positive correlations between high speed of studying of units of pair associations and ability to mastering languages.

The Russian scientists hold essentially other opinion in understanding of essence of linguistic abilities. Their approach is based on the characteristic of specific features of mental processes since from it, in their opinion, successful mastering by concrete operations of speech activity in foreign language depends.

As an example it is possible to consider realization of the act of perception and understanding of the speech statement on hearing and those mental processes which function thus. In activity of audition 5 separate operations are allocated: the identification of sounds; the identification of words; association of a sound with value; comprehension of the logic plan of speech; preservation of the understood previous contents in memory. First two operations are carried out with the help of functioning of operative, long-term memory and phonemic hearing as trained should remember a required linguistic material and to have ability of distinction of phonemes on hearing. For formation of adequate associations of sounds of speech with values and comprehension of the logic plan of speech skill to predict value of a word or the statement in the given concrete situation and skill to establish logic connections between heard is necessary. It is provided with presence of the certain level formation of verbal-logic thinking and ability to probabilistic forecasting. To keep in memory the contents of the statement, ability to keep the heard information in consciousness is required and to take advantage of the saved up material in a new situation that is provided with the advanced operative and long-term memory.

Thus, Russian are understood as such specific features of cognitive processes which promote easy, fast and effective mastering by speech and linguistic skills with reference to foreign languages by researchers linguistic abilities. As the basic mechanisms of speech activity shown, equally at mastering any foreign language are considered: verbal thinking, quality of operative, long-term and verbal memory, feature of acoustical perception, speech hearing and its compound components, phonemic and intonational hearing, individual properties of imagination and attention.

In the theory there is no uniform classification of linguistic abilities. Belyaev B.V. offers classification of speaking other language abilities on the basis of various kinds of activity on studying foreign language, according to different aspects of language and types of speech activity. Belayev B.V. allocates abilities to translation from foreign language on native, abilities to mastering grammatical rules, to learning foreign words in their correlation with Russian equivalents, abilities to reading, to the letter, to in investigated language, to understanding of speech of the interlocutor, ability to mastering by skills oral (speaking and understanding) and written (reading and the letter) speeches, abilities to mastering by phonetics, vocabulary, grammar of investigated language. In turn, each of these kinds of abilities breaks up to even more elementary abilities. For example, grammatical abilities, on Belyaev B.V., it is possible to divide into ability to change a word according to rules of their grammar and to unite them in complete offers; ability of the correct use of an article; ability of the correct coordination of words etc.

The special place in a problem of classifications of linguistic abilities is taken with works of Kabardov M.K. He subdivides abilities to languages on communicative-speech (other language-speech) and cognitive-linguistic (language), formal-dynamic characteristics which are expressed in rate of mastering of means of language, speeds of transition from mastering to their application, in speed of overcoming of a communicative barrier. Cognitive-linguistic abilities are individual-psychological features which promote fast and strong formation of skills and skills at mastering by language system – phonetics, vocabulary, grammar, reading. Communicative-speech is psychophysiological features which provide fast and qualitative mastering by skills, and here the author possession and paralinguistic by means - mimicry, gestures is included also. As, he allocated the basic characteristics of the individuals having this or that kind of abilities. So, at owners of abilities communicative - speech high parameters of communicative activity are marked, namely: initiative in dialogue in foreign language, ease of understanding and speaking, high fluency of speech. But trained the given category frequently are at a loss at a presence of linguistic laws, rules in unfamiliar language; decisions them of linguistic tasks, as a rule, have stereotyped character. The individuals described by presence of cognitive-linguistic abilities, have an orientation, first of all on studying of theoretical bases of language, its systems, but experience difficulties understanding and speaking, that is practical using language.

But nevertheless, in Polyanskaya O.S. opinion, such classifications of linguistic abilities are not absolutely exact since they allocate speech and language knowledge faster, skills, but not abilities to mastering by languages. For example, correctly to use articles, quickly and competently make translation from one language on another the person with average or even rather low abilities to foreign languages if he can also and was purposefully trained in the given skills regularly during long time. As excessive "crushing" of linguistic abilities on their elementary components complicates realization of their diagnostics, makes practically impossible creation of test techniques for definition of a level of development of this or that kind of abilities. She offers qualitatively other classification of linguistic abilities. The functional-genetic concept of human abilities is put in its basis. For classification of linguistic abilities from this position to cognitive functions and the processes making a basis of the mechanism of perception and generation of speaking other language speech, it is necessary to approach not as to structural components of the common ability to mastering foreign language and to study them as separate kinds of this ability and to consider from positions of studying of individuality. So it is possible to allocate – perceptive, mnemonic, speech understanding abilities to foreign languages (concerning mastering by skills of speaking other language speech), and also ability of linguistic thinking (concerning mastering by skills of the analysis of system of investigated language).

Mnemonic speaking other language ability includes all kinds of verbal memory playing an essential role in mastering by skills of foreign speech. In particular: memory long-term and operative; acoustical, visual both impellent; mechanical and logic. The importance of memory for fast and easy mastering by a foreign language, it is especial at the initial stages of training, it is emphasized by all without exception by the researchers engaged in this question. Mastering of any language begins with storing separate lexical units, it means, that well advanced mechanical memory based on repeated recurrence of a material as the word is remembered, first of all, is necessary for fast purchase of a required lexicon not as semantic structure and as set of visual, acoustical and impellent sensual representations.

According to Albina A.T.'s researches, verbal memory is the important differential attribute on which precisely differ capable and unable to languages trained. The importance of verbal memory is caused not only necessity of mastering by speaking another language lexicon. During mastering foreign language in educational conditions from trained storing and reproduction of the whole texts (art, publicistic) frequently is required with the purpose of development of phonetic, intonational structures, grammatical models of investigated language. Memorizing of texts is considerably facilitated by use of special receptions of comprehension of a learnt material, namely exarticulation in it of the certain semantic units, allocation of strong points with which the contents of the given fragment of the text easily associates. Efficiency of use of such receptions just depends on a level of development of verbal memory.

The role of a high level of verbal operative memory as conditions and means of successful realization of speech activity proves to be true that success of realization of all kinds of speaking another language speech activity is influenced essentially with volume of operative memory, i.e. quantity of elements of the information. Operative memory at realization of speech activity is closely connected to long-term verbal memory. The high level of development of long-term memory as structural making speaking other language abilities provides strong storing and long preservation of a plenty of a speaking other language verbal material.

Well advanced impellent memory easily allows trained to remember position of bodies of an articulation at pronouncing sounds of speaking other language speech and determines a level of development of so-called articulation abilities.

Well advanced visual memory promoting fast and strong storing of an alphabetic image of a word and its exact reproduction is necessary for correct perception, understanding and reproduction of the written information, providing formation at trained to spelling vigilance.

First of all, perceptive ability to foreign language is acoustical perception. As the basic component of the given ability it is possible to consider the speech hearing providing perception and understanding of speaking other language speech, promoting fast accumulation in memory trained acoustical images of lexical units and their combinations. To audition belong to the greater densities in speech dialogue, than to other kinds of speech activity. Hence, one of the most significant elements of structure of abilities to mastering by foreign languages is the acoustical perception. It underlies speaking another language speech activity since is the natural channel through whom the word will penetrate into a brain.

Speech understanding ability is ability of the pupil to the effective decision of any verbal task, to successful realization speech understanding activity in foreign language which is considered as «process of formation and a formulation of idea by means of language for its external expression» One of components speech understanding abilities to foreign language lawful counts and a high level of development of the mechanism probabilistic forecasting.

Ability of linguistic thinking with reference to mastering by a foreign language represents set of the cogitative operations, allowing comprehending laws of construction of system of investigated foreign language.

Linguistic abilities play the important role in mastering by trades - the teacher of foreign language or the translator. In concept of the linguistic abilities necessary for successful mastering by foreign languages include - mnemonic abilities, perceptive abilities (first of all acoustical perception), speech understanding abilities and ability of linguistic thinking.

Thus, before to reveal the modern requirements showed to professional and personal qualities of the future philologists, it is necessary to understand, in the future they will face which kind of activity. The future philologists can become depending on specialization of training either teachers, or translators. Accordingly the requirements showed to students, it is possible to divide into two groups - common and special requirements. We have referred linguistic abilities to the common requirements. To special requirements we have refer personal qualities and the abilities making a complex of professionally important qualities, i.e. the requirements showed by a separate trade.


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