The 's Second Issue With The Critical Period Essay

The 's Second Issue With The Critical Period Essay

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Tokudome’s second issue with the critical period stems from if there is a biological explanation to the theory, then it should hold under all but the most unusual of circumstances. In short, if the CP exists, then later learners should physically and neurologically be unable to reach native-like proficiency (Tokudome 23). This is expressed by CPH proponents such as Long who have stated that a native-like accent is impossible without first exposure occurring before age twelve or perhaps age six. They believe native-like pronunciation and native-like grammar are out of reach beyond the critical period (qtd. in Tokudome 23). In David Robson’s article “Old Schooled,” he also contends that a critical period, if it exists, should run across the board. He cites the numerous examples where adults have learned new skills to a high level to discredit the CPH (Robson 32-33). Despite this, Tokudome believes that a decline in L2 proficiency across age is real, but it is gradual. Native-like pronunciation and grammar are achievable past puberty, as has been shown in many studies; therefore, the reasons must be in other areas as will be explored later (Tokudome 24).
One study stands out in its completeness in its analysis of the CPH. Snow and Hoefnagel-Hohle studied newcomers to the Netherlands in the 1970s and tested them on their progress in mastering the Dutch language three times in one year. This study tested subjects on many skill components of oral language -- pronunciation, morphology, syntax, vocabulary, syntactic judgments, comprehension, and fluency. They looked at learners who were learning Dutch simply at school or work, without formal intensive instruction, in an effort to mimic how kids generally learn their first langua...


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...actice, and increased education. In fact, according to J.E. Flege, Yeni-Komshian, and Liu, education has arisen as the social factor most influential on second-language acquisition (qtd in Hakuta, Bialystok and Wiley 31-32). When studies have controlled for education level, age-of-learning effects disappeared.
Consequently, the critical period hypothesis has done more harm than good by drawing the attention of researchers to the failures of late learners of second languages. It is time to turn our studies toward a more useful path of determining what makes a late learner successful. While we may not be able to send the old dog’s adage to the dog house, we can provide hope and strategies for success to the millions of adolescents and adults around the world who wish or need to learn another language. Old dogs can learn new tricks, let’s help them now learn how.

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