Essay on Age and Second Language Acquisition

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With the increasing popularity of dual immersion programs in schools and the widespread notion that language acquisition is something that needs to happen early on life, is there an ideal age to learn a second language (L2)?
Wilder Penfield and Lamar Roberts first introduced the idea that there is a “critical period” for learning language in 1959. This critical period is a biologically determined period referring to a period of time when learning/acquiring a language is relatively easy and typically meets with a high degree of success. German linguist Eric Lenneberg further highlights Roberts and Penfield’s findings and postulated the Critical Period Hypothesis in 1967. According to the Critical Period Hypothesis (CPH), certain
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They sought to further probe the relationship between the effects of maturation and the ability of an individual to acquire a second language. Specifically, they first aimed at either verifying or disproving the existence of age-related effects on second language acquisition of grammar by establishing a correlation between age of first exposure to a language and level of morphosyntactic accuracy in that language. What they found is that the younger the L2 learner was, the accuracy of the L2 was higher (Johnson & Newport as cited by Schouten 2009 p. 3). Phonological acquisition of a language is another factor supporting the CPH. As stated before, once the brain becomes lateralized, functions become more concrete and less susceptible to change. When one learns new sounds, some of these may be difficult to produce since he/she never had the exposure to it during the critical period. Scovel (1988 as cited by Schouten 2009 p. 4) goes so far as to claim that a critical period exists only in the realm of pronunciation. He contends that unlike other areas of language acquisition, “phonological production is the only aspect of language performance that has a neuromuscular basis.” A good example of this would be the /r/ and /l/ distinction in English and in Japanese. While English has two distinct phonemes for these sounds, Japanese only has one. A child, and even an adolescent, learning English would have an easier time
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