Language Acquistion vs. Language Learning

There is an important distinction made by linguists between ‘language acquisition’ and ‘language learning’.

“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 messages they are conveying and understanding.” Stephen Krashen (The Natural Approach)

There is an innate capacity for every human being to acquire language and the term ‘language acquisition’ refers to the ways that people acquire language naturally, outside of formal instruction in things like grammar or vocabulary. A child’s need to communicate paves the way for the acquisition of their mother tongue through natural communication and meaningful interaction both with parents and their surrounding environment. This is a subconscious process during which they are unaware of grammatical rules and where the emphasis is on the content of the communication and not the form. Error correction and explicit teaching of rules are not relevant to language acquisition.