Second Language Acquisition

1730 Words7 Pages
The critical period hypothesis has long been under investigation. The question here is simple: does it really exist? And if it exists, to what extent does it affect second language proficiency? Many studies seem to have proven that the critical hypothesis exists because apparently no adult after puberty has been successful in achieving native-like proficiency. On the contrary, some believe that there is no reason for such hypothesis because some late learners have been able to attain a native-like fluency.
There is obviously a certain decline in the ability to learn a second language with age. The reason for this remains controversial, with the argument focusing on whether the cause is the critical period or other factors affecting second language learning.
This paper will discuss the perspective of the critical period hypothesis. In addition, it will look at studies for and against the critical period hypothesis. Each group can lay claim to certain evidence in its favour. The paper will also focus on certain factors that may affect second language proficiency; for instance, age, native language use, and duration of stay in an area where the second language is used.
Definition of Critical Period hypothesis
Snow, Catherine and Hohle (1978) point out that “the critical period hypothesis holds that first language acquisition must occur before cerebral lateralization is complete, at about the age of puberty. One prediction of this hypothesis is that second language acquisition will be relatively fast, successful, and qualitatively similar to first language only if it occurs before the age of puberty” ( Snow, Catherine and Hohle, 1978, p. 1114).
As cited in Snow, Catherine and Hohle (1978), L...

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