The Critical Period Hypothesis : Is It Valid?

1354 WordsNov 17, 20156 Pages
The Critical Period Hypothesis: Is it Valid? Is it Relevant? The adage that “You can’t teach an old dog new tricks” has been around in one form or another since the 1500s. There is no realm in which this idea is more prevalent than in second language learning even today. In “Three Misconceptions About L2 Learning”, Marinova-Todd, Marshall, and Snow said it well: Age has often been considered a major, if not the primary, factor determining success in learning a second or foreign language. Children are generally considered capable of acquiring a new language rapidly and with little effort, whereas adults are believed to be doomed to failure. (9) Doomed to failure are strong words, yet anyone who has tried and struggled to learn a language later in life can understand the sentiment. The diminished achievement as one ages is not controversial. Personal anecdotes and empirical evidence have been well documented. My own language learning experiences as an exchange student successfully learning Norwegian in my teens when compared to my struggle to learn Spanish in adulthood, at first glance, seems to place me in the old dog category. On closer inspection, however, several questions have arisen as to whether age is the affective factor in my difficulties or if something else is to blame or perhaps a combination of many factors. Beyond this, does attributing age as the defining reason for failure, a condition that even modern science has been unable to reverse, provide any real
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