The Age Factor in Second Language Acquisition

3030 Words Aug 17th, 2013 13 Pages
The Age Factor in Second Language Acquisition Introduction There are many factors that affect second language acquisition (SLA). For example, SLA is affected by the role of the mother tongue, the role of gender differences, the role of personal differences and the role of age differences. The role of age differences is one of the most important factors that affect SLA. It is often claimed that children learn faster than adults. The younger the learner of a foreign language, the more effective the learning process will be. Nowadays, many countries are trying to introduce English for younger learners. They believe that the younger the learners are, the better the learning English process will be. The United Arab …show more content…
Also, if the left hemisphere of children is damaged, they have the ability to shift the linguistic ability to the right hemisphere. In contrast, if the left hemisphere of adults is damaged, they do not have the ability to shift the linguistic ability to the right hemisphere. Penfield and Roberts (1959), (quoted in Arabski, 1999, p. 25) found that "children have a unique capacity to shift linguistic ability to the right hemisphere and restore them after the left one has been damaged. In the case of adult aphasiacs this shifting does not occur". Learners whose exposure to the L2 begins early in life attain higher levels of proficiency than those whose exposure begins in adulthood. At the same time, adult learners progress faster than younger learners because they have more cognitive abilities. Lengyel and Singleton (1995) said that: It is commonly held belief that compared to adults, children are very successful second language learners. After settling in another language community, children seem to pick up the new language without much effort, whereas their parents experience great difficulty in achieving high levels of L2 proficiency. (p. 30).
Also Macnamara (1973), (quoted in Ryan, 2004, p.2) pointed out that:

. . . young children in suitable environments pick up a second language with little trouble, whereas adults