The case of “Genie” is a tragic look at the effects of child abuse and neglect on childhood development. Genie’s case was particularly extreme, as she lived the first 13 years of her life in isolation and confinement. With little to no human interaction throughout her entire life, she developed no language skills. Researchers were extremely interested in this case, as it gave them a chance to explore two theories of language development. One theory is Noam Chomsky’s view that children are born with an innate ability to learn and understand language. Chomsky termed this structure in our brain the “Language Acquisition Device” (LAD). An alternate theory by Eric Lenneberg stated that language development is a result of our environment, and stressed the importance of critical periods. Lenneberg believed that the critical period for language development only lasted until around 12 years of age, and inability to develop language during these critical periods would result in major deficits.
It is a common belief that children are better at learning languages than adults. Children have better mental flexibility, more creativity, a different way of thinking, as well as improved memory skills. Children have the ability to achieve full knowledge of a second language, along with any additional ones. This idea is the premise of the Critical Period Hypothesis. This theory was proposed by Wilder Penfield and Lamar Roberts, but later popularized by Eric Lenneberg. Eric Lenneberg (1976), considered to be the “father” of the critical period hypothesis, believed that children only have a certain amount of time to pick up a language. “The critical period hypothesis (CPH) as proposed by Lenneberg (1967) holds that primary language acquisition
There are several theories regarding language development. Work by Chomsky, Piaget and Kuhl are critical. Studies by Chomsky, as examined by Albery, Chandler, Field, Jones, Messer, Moore and Sterling (2009); Deloache, Eisenberg & Siegler (2003) argued for the innateness of language acquisition due to its complexity. Development is assisted by a language acquisition device (LAD) and universal grammar both of which holding the propensity for commonalities throughout all languages. LAD is the key to the Syntax rule. The knowledge to master the rules is held unconsciously. Chomsky concludes exposure through auditory channels as being the only requirement for learning. Arguably Kuhl (2010) writes infantile exposure to language through auditory channels only, does not contribute effectively to learning indicating the importance of human interaction. Piaget, as discussed by Ault (1977) postulated language as not being part of the earliest stages of development. Signifying within sensorimotor stage, between birth and two years, the child’s development is too reflexive. Gleitman, Fridlund and Reisberg (2004) discuss the critical period hypothesis and suggest the young brain being more suited to acquisition than the adult brain. Lenneberg (1967) (as cited in Gleitman et al 2004) advocates, brain maturation closes language acquisition capacity window. Kuhl (2010) identified, within the critical period babies develop
In his article, it involved the study of comparing two groups of deaf adults. The first group of adults were born with normal hearing and they had learned American Sign Language relatively late. The other group is people who were congenitally deaf. The result is that the first group largely outperformed the second group in ASL, and Pallier wrote, “This result show that experience pays a role because if only maturational factor were at play then the proficiency in ASL should only depend on age of acquisition of ASL and both groups should perform similarly. On the contrary, learning and using a language in the first years of life maintains the capacity to acquire a new language” (Pallier) From my perspective of view, critical period is effecting the first-language learning process. However, other factors also affect the learning
Examines how language develops from infancy into adulthood. Focuses on the modularity debate of how language is organized in the brain. Some theorize that language is domain-specific in that the brain has processes dedicated to the task of language learning and comprehension. Others focus on a domain-general theory for language learning where the processes used to learn language are the same processes used in other situations such as problem solving.
This neural plasticity has been shown to decrease with increasing age; it has been hypothesized that this gradual decline occurs around age four (Szagun & Stumper, 2012; Tomblin et al., 2005). Due to this decline in neural plasticity, many believe that there is a critical or sensitive period for language learning. The critical period concept states that there is a period of time where language must be learned, or it will not be able to be learned, while the sensitive period concept states that while there is a period of time where language must be learned, it is not absolute (Hoff, 2009). Theorists have not been in agreement about how exactly the ideas of sensitive and critical periods manifest. John Locke theorized that an overall sensitive period encompasses critical phases which are both interconnected and intersecting. In this idea, development of one component of language may provoke the development of another component or multiple components. Other theorists speculate that there may be different critical periods for different language
The “critical period” is a theory that states the most beneficial time for a child to learn a second languages is from age two until puberty (Vanhove). Studies have shown it is easier for children to acquire a second language than it is for adults. The main reasoning behind this phenomenon, is that as children grow into adults, their ability to perceive sound deteriorates (Tran). Also, in adults, the
One of the reasons for this stereotype can be attributed to the older adult and the teacher, they have doubts about their ability to learn a foreign language. Although most people have accepted the generalization of learning as “the younger the better” (Schleppegrell, M., 1987), this is not the case when it comes to learning language. There have been studies that have determined that aging does not decline a person’s learning ability. The way older adults learn a new skill is the only adjustments that need to be made. These studies also show that older adults learn at a more rapid rate than children (Krashen, Long, and Scarcella, 1979). There are two reasons why being a poor language learner is attributed to adults, and those are “a theory of the brain and how it matures, and classroom practices that discriminate against the older learner” (Schleppegrell, M., 1987). The "critical period" hypothesis that was put forth in the 1960 's was based on then-current theories of brain development, and argued that the brain lost "cerebral plasticity" after puberty, making second language acquisition more difficult as an adult than as a child (Lenneberg, 1967). Due to advances in the study of neurology, it has been determined that adults have superior language learning capabilities. These studies and facts should dispel any accepted stereotypes related to older adults and their ability to learn foreign languages.
In mammals, language is one of the most complex method of communication that only humans can truly learn. The critical period hypothesis describes that children from ages between four months and five years old have the best ability to understand phonemes and morphemes, as well as incorporating these into their own proper speech. By being exposed to a first language stimulus, children around these ages can quickly pick up on sounds and basic grammatical rules. However, from any age beyond six years old, comprehension becomes further difficult. In addition, without being exposed to any form of conversation during a child’s critical period, they would fundamentally find themselves incapable of acquiring a first language. For a long time, psychologists found it a struggle to prove their critical period hypothesis, but because of a neglected individual, Genie Wiley, she helps validate it.
Through completing this research, there seems to be a distinct age in which a child must acquire or learn a language. With this in mind, it does seem that Lenneberg’s critical period hypothesis is correct in its assumption. But, it also seems that Lenneberg was incorrect with a few aspects in his hypothesis. For example, he claims that all aspects of a language will be lost once a child reaches the age of puberty or when the brain is fully mature. This claim is counteracted with the research and study done with Genie. Although Genie was unable to acquire all aspects of her language like grammatical meanings and was incapable of producing coherent sentences, she was still able to communicate with two word utterances. Due to
The critical period of language development is from birth until age 3 but language can still be acquired up until about age 13 depending on the student. After this period the student will have a harder time acquiring language and will hit a ceiling on how much of the language they will be able to learn. Many children who are Deaf/ Hard of hearing are not exposed to language at an early age since they often have hearing parents causing them to have language development delays (Knoors & Marschak 2014). These language delays are normally present since the children do not have access to being immersed in the language and just mocking the elders in their family due to their hearing loss (Knoors & Marschak 2014). To prevent Deaf/ Hard of hearing
The critical period of child language acquisition remains of most interest, as this is where the brain is most malleable and receptive to change – however, later language development will also be addressed. Interpretations of findings and results in this essay stem from a nativist
The idea of critical period for language acquisition was first brought into view by Eric Lenneberg in 1967. The critical period hypothesis states that idea that the learning of a language must be done within a certain time frame after a child's birth, or else it will be impossible for the acquisition of language to happen. Though Lenneberg may have not been the one to have thought up the idea, he was the person who had popularized it making psychologist question whether or not such a thing as a critical period exists(Snow). This hypothesis first came up from studying people who acquired some sort of damage to the left hemisphere of the brain, leading a patient to obtain aphasia. People who were unfortunate enough to obtain this type of language impairment were more likely to recover to having normal language abilities, if they acquired
Numerous theories try to explain the process of language acquisition. These theories fall into one of two camps. The environmentalist (or connectionist) theory of language acquisition asserts that language is acquired through environmental factors (Halvaei et al. 811). Theorists in this camp believe that a child learns language by gaining information from the outside world and then forming associations between words and objects. The nativist (or rationalist) approach, on the other hand, asserts that it is innate factors that determine language acquisition. Noam Chomsky, often described as “the father of modern linguistics”, falls into this camp as he believes that speech is the result of hidden rules of language that are hidden somewhere in the brain (Rahmani and Abdolmanafi 2111). Steven Pinker, a colleague of Chomsky, is a renowned psychologist, cognitive scientist and linguist who discusses his own theories on language acquisition in his book Words and Rules.
The notion of “critical period” closely connecting with “plasticity” for language acquisition is a period, somewhere in childhood or at puberty, after which leaning language becomes markdly more difficult. First proposed by Lenneberg in 1967, Critical Period Hypothesis predicts that “younger is bertter”, complete acquisition of speech can occur only before the end of neurological plasticity and speech acquired after this event will be acquired more slowly and will be less successful. He notes that the age at which persistent aaphasic symptoms result from left-hemisphere injury is approximately the same age,around puberty, at which “foreign accent” became likely in SLA. Researchers differ over when this eriod comes to an end. A particularly convincing study made by Johnson and Newport suggests that the period ends at about age 15. grammaticality judgment was tested in a large group of subjects who had immigrated to the United States at