Paper Example on Critical Period for Learning Ability for a Given Language

Published: 2021-07-29
1165 words
5 pages
10 min to read
Vanderbilt University
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A critical period for learning ability for a given language has been observed to decline sharply as age advances. Studies on this crucial time have shown that the ability to understand languages fast ends at puberty. The occurrence of the critical learning period has been explained by the evolutionally model which tends to assume that language ability is a principle which is measurable. The claim that claimed that children could acquire learning languages better than adults has been proved true by this evolutionally model which shows that the critical period is not an adaptation. The critical period has been associated to arise from the interplay of generic factors influencing life history characters in relation and acquiring a new language.

It has been agreed that learning of a language is more manageable for the younger generation than for the elderly. This agreement has been deducing from the measure of success which is the ability of an individual to acquire new language and put into practice as if the language is his or her mother tongue. Studies which have been carried out and are age-related have hypothesized evidence of critical language learning method. It has been noted that at ages below the critical period can lead to native language acquisition which occurs through simple tutoring at the acquisition of a new language tends to be more straightforward at this age gap. The simplicity of learning a new language at ages below the critical period has arisen due to some degree which is recorded when the old try to learn a second language. This difficulty can be expressed in a statement that learning outcomes decrease with age due to monotony.

Also in Hanford's report, Hanford went further to describe what Bever claimed to be his belief of the critical period. Hanford explained that Bever argued from the point of the relation between perception and production. He went further to state that when language has been learned and adults posses the knowhow of closely coordinated interpretable utterances which make it difficult for them to learn a second language. Adults tend to learn new words slowly due to the perception and effect they have due to over use of mother tongues. The over the use of mother tongue has been recorded as the main hindrance to learning new language due overdependence.

A report by J.R Harford shows that to prove the validity and true existence of this critical learning period several methods were used to demonstrate. The first process used to illustrate involved the use of computer modeling and simulation. Computer modeling and simulation involved the use of a computer program was written putting into consideration relevant variables. This computer modeling was meant to analyze statistics from a population in which people were made to live, reproduce and face death in natural ways. After carrying out this research, it was recorded that as there was population turn over, generic characteristics relating to the ages in their lives in which they are open to learning new languages. It was also noted that individuals acquired new language at different rates which were entirely based on their genetic characteristics.

This conceptual model used made three crucial assumptions. The first hypothesis stated that individuals the control of a particular aspect of a language gave an individual an advantage. Such advantage arose as one could communicate better and thus interact with others. The ability to understand language lead to better interactions with others and thus bringing about social development. The second assumption deduced from this particular study showed that body language improved the rate at which an individual acquired a language. Kids who were able to master various body languages were observed to be the best in acquiring a different language. It has been distinguished that at ages below the critical period can lead to native language acquisition which occurs through simple tutoring at the acquisition of a new language tends .Observation deduced from these kids led to the physiologists and neurologists carrying out this research assuming that body language was to some extent related to the speed of acquiring a language. The last assumption deduced from the computer modeling and simulations was that life history such as puberty and various aspects of maturation and aging is under genetic control. This life history periods can extend to some determination of periods in which acquisition of a new language is easy. This procedure further leads to a conclusion which showed that the best age to acquire a new language is in between childhood and puberty.

To prove the existence of conceptual periods, studies have been carried out under three main considerations. These considerations were based on individual case study, experimental laboratory studies, and analysis of large survey or census data sets. The main focus for carrying out different case studies and an empirical laboratory was to determine whether second language learners achieve native-like outcomes. These two assessments have been carried out using small numbers through sampling. Detailed test instruments have also been employed when carrying out the three studies. These studies have led to conclusions which support the existence of conceptual period. The theoretical period is believed to be is in between child hood and puberty.

The belief of the existence of the conceptual period has to lead to researchers both physiologists and neurologists taking part in this research trying to demark this period. Despite the many attempts to try and demark this time, Chiswick and Miller have stated very clear in that none of the researchers were able to demark this period. These considerations were based on individual case study, experimental laboratory studies, and analysis of large survey or census data sets. This demark proved to be challenging because there is great genetic variance between individuals. This genetic variance in the generic makeup of individuals under study has led to different researches coming up with ages to define this period. This difference in dating this period led to researchers coming with a common session which they dated to be up to nine years and a variation of two years to puberty.

Research carried out by the various physiologists, and neurolinguistic proved that critical ability to learn a new language has decreased with age. This decline has been recorded due to the generic difference recorded with different periods. It has been noted that generic composition for individuals below puberty favors the acquisition of a language which is not the case for those with advanced age. Learning of a second language by the adults has proved somewhat complicated due to the influence from the first language. The early style has recorded difficulties for individuals to acquire new languages due to some degree of dependency.


Bever. T.G. (198I). Normal acquisition processes explain the critical period for language Isarniny.In K. C. Miller

Hurford. J.R.(1990) The evolution of critical period for language acquisition university of EdinburghRout ledge tailor &Francis group (2008) .multilingual multicultural development a test of the critical period hypothesis for language learning. Published online


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