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ABSTRACT This study is aimed to explain to first language acquisition (Bahasa Indonesia) of pre-school child based on; (a) early speech sounds and (b) early word production. The research subject is three year old boy and the data were taken from a brief observation and interview.
Keyword: behaviorism, nativism, speech sound, feature acquisition, child phonologies, word production, vocabularies.


Human growth and development take a long process, and at the beginning stages (0-6 years), a serious attention is needed since it affects the next phases of human life. Psychologists assume that the pre-school period essentially contribute the quality of human, either physical, mental, and social aspect.

Language is a means of communication that is used by human to express, convey, share their thoughts, feelings, ideas, and expression. It has been crucial part of the development stages of human intelligence. Studies related to language acquisition especially for pre-school child need to be conducted in order to uncover the processes happen to childs mind when acquiring language.

The process of acquiring and mastering language by children is an interesting phenomenon that is commonly investigated by the researcher in the field of psycholinguistics. After a thorough reading of some psycholinguistics research report, it can be concluded that the process of acquiring language is actively occurred at the age of 2-6 years old. It doesnt mean that adult could not acquire the language but the process of acquiring language doesnt happen effectively compared to the children stage.

The first language acquisition is occurred when a child who doesnt master any languages learn a certain language. In this process, children tend to use the language for its function than structural form. It is a continuous process that begins with a simple word utterance into a more complicated combination of words.


How child can acquire a language is quite difficult to be proven yet can be explained by some theories. Among these theories, Behaviorism and Nativism are considered the most basic and important theories at the beginning of children language acquisition study. Behaviorists believe that children have no linguistic knowledge when born and all the process of language learning is fully influenced by the environment. Children respond to the stimuli given by the environment. These responses reinforce them and become habitual. For example, families verbally communicate to children since birth and gradually they acquire their first language. A child who is thirsty always sees her mom showing white liquid listens and say. susu. When is thirsty and asks for susu, her mom gives the white liquid to her. When this utterance is conditioned by constant repetition, it creates an understanding in childs mind that the white liquid is susu.

On the other hand, nativists believe that child is born with a language acquisition device and the process of acquiring language is an innate capacity. It specifies only to language and can be found only in human being. Children are born with a specific unique human talent that can extrapolate the grammar of a language without overt instruction or correction, (Gleason, 1993:38). Because children have language-specific abilities, children can easily learn the first language and those abilities assist them in mastering language.


The subject of the study is a boy whose the first language is Indonesia. The boy was born in December 9th 2009. His name is Muhammad Azzam Ardhana. He is categorized in pre-school stage (3-6 years old). He is three years and 8 months old. This study applies the qualitative method by observing the interaction of the boy with his family member and interviewing the boys mother in order to gain more authentic and reliable data. This study is aimed to get an overview on: (a) the speech sounds used by four year old child and (b)the early words used by four year old child.


The first language acquisition at pre-school child period consists of a series of stages before the children could finally produce the language fluently. They tend to produce sound that may refer to a certain word in an adult language although the sound may not be clear (no obvious meaning). This act of babbling by the children is claimed as the result of their perceiving intonation (the melody of a certain utterance) before they learn to perceive phonetic segments (Clark, 1997:382). At around 1 year old, the children start to produce simple speech sound which consists of one word in one phrase or called as holophrastic stage. It reflects a longer sentence that is only understood by the children and the parents (because of hearing and experiencing it repeatedly). Commonly, children start to produce meaningful words at the age of two. They use two words that are combined into one phrase which have an understandable meaning. When they can use more than two words, they could produce a complete sentence although there may be some parts missing. Based on the interview with Azzams mother the speech sounds that he early produces is babble when he was around seven months old. At that time, he usually

produced sound like bububub and played with his mouth. His mother didnt really understand what the sound means. When he was one year old, he started to utter a set of consonant and vowel, for example, mi for Mana umi?, bi for Mana abi?, and a more complex set of syllables (consonant-vowel-consonant), i.e. num for Minta minum, bil for Naik mobil and cis for Mau pipis. Because his inability to say the more complete words, whenever he wanted something, usually he pointed to the things and uttered with a rising intonation. These utterances reflect three functions that are to show their needs, to express their feelings and to name something. Azzams early language development was categorized as fast learner, because he could produce words in a more complete sentence in the age of three. It was because her mom always places him in front of television which shows channel for babies and he likes to copy the pronunciation in the TV program. This phenomenon supports the theory of behavior that the children learn from the environment which is in the case, using television as the media of learning.

However, he is still unable to utter the phoneme /r/. It can be seen from the following conversation script that was taken when he talked to his sister, Hani. Mbak Hani Azzam Hani Azzam Hani Azzam : Mas, main tebak-tebakan yuk! : Ayok! Hmm : Ayo apa, udah mbak duluan yaaa! : Aaaa jangan. Ni ya, olangnya gendut, baju pink, dali huluf H. : Oalah, mas ini pasti maksudnya mbak itu kan? : hihihi

As we can see that this dialogue shows the phenomenon of segmental in child phonologies. Our research subjects error in pronunciation is systematic and frequent. It can be seen from the Italic words from the conversation. He could not distinguish the intra-liquid letters (/l/-/r/) and he replaced the phoneme /r/ with /l/

as in words orang olang; warna walna; dari dali. This relates to the ability of acquiring features or called as feature acquisition of liquids sound which include alveolar /l/ and post-alveolar /r/.

The mastery of phoneme /r/ (post-alveolar) is acquired after the child is able to utter the alveolar feature /l/. The process for children to acquire the phoneme /r/ is through four stages, namely (a) zero phase that is seen in the word /rumah/ become /umah/, (b) phoneme /r/ to /y/ phase, as in the word /rumah/ become /yumah/, (c) phoneme /r/ to /l/ phase, as in the word /rumah/ become /lumah/, and (d) the mastery of phoneme /r/ (Werdianingsih, 2002:6-7). Therefore, currently, Azzam is in the third phase of the phoneme /r/ mastery. On the other hand, this dialogue also represents the suprasegmental aspects of the speech. Based on the dialogue above, the underlined sentence is uttered with intonation and stress. Although it only consists of one word, it can be said as a sentence because the word is uttered in high pitch or is called as suprasegmental phoneme.


Early in language development, pre-school child starts to utter words to refer to objects, actions, and events in the world based on what they listen from their environment. They learn to attach meaning to the words they utter and later use the words when needed. This action helps children to acquire vocabularies.

Early words production of children usually relate to some aspects such as, people, food, body parts, vehicles, activities and many more. It is proven by the early words acquired by the research subject. As mentioned above, the early words uttered by Azzam are related to those aspects as explained below: a. Umi, Abi refer to people (parents).

b. Minum, Mamam, Pipis refer to activities/routines. c. Mobil refer to vehicle.

Early vocabularies developed in the pre-school stage are crucial for the language development of children. At this stage, pre-school children have learn to master some types of words such as noun, verb, adjectives, adverbs, pronoun, numbers, preposition, conjunction and interjection. In order to find out the vocabularies acquired by the research subject, the observation is conducted while her mom talks to him and feed him. The dialogue is written as follows: Azzams Mother Azzam Azzams Mother Azzam Azzams Mother Azzam Azzams Mother Azzam Azzams Mother Azzam Azzams Mother : Mas coba kasih tau bulek, udah bisa angka-angka belum? : Udah. Satu, dua, tiga, lima, empat, tujuh, lapan, sembilan, sepuluh. : Yah, tebalik itu. Sayurnya dimakan lah nak. : Ga mau. : Mana bisa ga mau ga mau. Makan dulu! : Paaait. (almost crying) : Ha, jadi mas makan apanya coba? : Makan ayam. : Memanglah Azzam ini. Mana mbak hani? : Di depan. : Panggil dulu biar umi sekalian sulangi.

In this brief dialogue, the words uttered by Azzam are quite various in types and will be described below: a. Satu, dua, tiga, lima, empat, tujuh, lapan, sembilan, sepuluh refer to numbers. b. Paaait as an adjective. c. Makan ayam shows verb and noun. d. Di depan as an adverb.

At the pre-school stage, the scope of words and vocabularies uttered are mostly in the forms of things, activities, state and others that are concrete. It can be said that early words and vocabularies relate to all the things that can be seen, heard, felt, and done by children.


After analyzing the data taken from observation and interview, it can be concluded that: (a) the early speech sounds in first language acquisition (Bahasa Indonesia) is started by producing a set of consonant-vowel, consonant-vowel-consonant. That goes on until the form of complete and meaningful word. In the pre-school stage (3,8 year old boy), some features of sounds may not be acquired perfectly as seen from the segmental rules that the research subject still has problem to utter the phoneme /r/. However, the suprasegmental rules are quite easily mastered by the children. (b) Early word production mostly in the form of things, activities, states and others that is concrete. The pre-school child firstly masters the words that relates to things seen, heard, felt, and done.

REFERENCES Clark, Eve V. 2003. First Language Acquisition. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Clark, Eve V. and Herbert H. Clark. 1993. Psychology and Language. Harcourt: London. Erlita, Yeni.. 2010 Pemerolehan Bahasa Dalam Lingkungan Keluarga Pada Anak Usia Tiga Tahun. Gleason, Jean Berko. 1993. Psycholinguistics Second Edition. Harcourt: Florida.

Goodluck, Helen. 1991. Language Acquisition-A Linguistic Introduction. Blackwell: Massachusetts. Ruqiyyah. 2008. Pemerolehan Bahasa Anak Usia 4-6 Tahun.


Interview Script Writer : Kak, azzam mulai bisa ngomong umur berapa ya? Azzams mom : Umur 3 tahunan ini lah dia udah bisa ngomong. Mungkin karena pengaruh baby TV itu juga. Writer : Awalnya kata-kata apa saja yang diucapkan kak? Azzams mom : Ya paling seperti mi, bi, num, mamam, bil, ncis. Writer : Kalo ngomong yang lain gitu? Azzams mom : Belum bisa, main tunjuk aja biasanya dia. Writer : Sebelum pengucapan potongan-potongan kata gitu, awalnya dia ngomong apa aja? Azzams mom : Ya ga ada, paling nangis atau ngoceh-ngoceh ga jelas. Writer : Contohnya kak? Azzams mom : Ya paling bubububub sambil main-main ludah. Gitu-gitu aja. Writer : Itu kira-kira umur berapa kak? Azzams mom : Berapa ya? Mungkin 7-8 bulanan lah ya. Writer : Oke, makasih ya kak. Azzams mom : Iya, sama-sama. Dialogue Script 1 Mbak Hani Azzam Mbak Hani Azzam Mbak Hani Azzam : Mas, main tebak-tebakan yuk! : Mas duluan ya! Hmm : Ayo apa, udah mbak duluan yaaa! : Aaaa jangan. Ni ya, olangnya gendut, Jilbab walna pink, dali huluf H. : Oalah, mas ini pasti maksudnya mbak itu kan? : hihihi

Dialogue Script 2 Azzams Mother : Mas coba kasih tau bulek, udah bisa angka-angka kan? Azzam : Udah. Satu, dua, tiga, lima, empat, tujuh, lapan, sembilan, sepuluh. Azzams Mother : Yah, tebalik itu. Sayurnya dimakan lah nak. Azzam : Ga mau. Azzams Mother : Mana bisa ga mau ga mau. Makan dulu! Azzam : Paaait. Azzams Mother : Ha, jadi mas makan apanya coba? Azzam : Makan ayam. Azzams Mother : Memanglah Azzam ini. Mana mbak hani? Azzam : Di depan.


Azzams Mother : Panggil dulu biar umi sekalian sulangi.