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The Role of Critical Period in Second Dialect Acquisition

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Lenneberg first hypothesized the existence of a critical period for language learning in 1967, ad it was supported by the case study of Genie, wo had little or no exposure to language until age sixteen. H hypothesized that “language acquisition is impossible before two due to maturational factors, ad after puberty because of the loss of ‘cerebral plasticity’ caused by the completion of the development of cerebral dominance, o lateralized specialization of the language function. Tere are case studies dating back to Carl Linneaus’ Homo Ferus in his of Nature, ad there have been many more cases documented since the case study on Genie in 1972 (Fromkin and Krashen et al.

, 1974, p. Te cases documented by Fromkin et. spport the theory of a critical period, bt there are other circumstances in each and every case that make it impossible to isolate the one variable of language exposure as causal. I each case the other variables could certainly impact the ability to learn language very strongly. Adrew Schouten (2009) noted that there was simply not sufficient evidence the critical language hypothesis for first language learning due to the circumstances discussed by Fromkin (1974).

Shouten did note that Bleyvromman’s Fundamental Difference Hypothesis in 1988 supported the hypothesis for second language learning, bt that Krashen’s research supported a weak critical period hypothesis for second language, sying that Krashen had proven that there were exceptions and hypothesised that this was due to the adult learner’s provision of modifying factors, sch as intensive study or immersion in the language environment. Tis is supported by Vanhove: Tat the ‘susceptibility’ or to input varies as a function of age, wth adult L2 learners being less susceptible to input than child L2 learners.

Iportantly, te age–susceptibility function is hypothesised to be non-linear. Erly researchers had supposed a lateralization of the brain function during or after the critical period, bt this cannot be shown to be the case in second language acquisition. Lnneberg’s Critical Period Hypothesis may be true for individuals not exposed to language at all before about puberty, a the brain lateralization was evident in Genie and other cases, in those the cause could not be definitively isolated, ad in. ..

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