Critical Thinking

Ortega Hence, I investigated two articles that examined

Ortega
(2013), in chapter two, debated that the acquisition of any language is closely
connected to a particular period of time. The earlier human is explored to a
language, the more fluent will be in that language. In other words, it is
believed that children can easily acquire a language before the age of puberty.
Researchers and linguists call this period the critical, optimal or sensitive
period (Ortega ,2013). Therefore, I was eager to investigate this period of
time, which is Critical Period. There is research done by Penfield and Roberts
(1959) and Lenneberg (1967) that proved the Critical-Period Hypothesis.
However, there were other studies, such as the study that was done by Loup and
her colleagues (1994) that disproved the CPH because Loup and her colleagues
investigated a British woman who learned Arabic, and she was passed the
critical period, but actually she became Native-Like in two and half years (as
cited in Ortega, 2013, p.14-15). Research on the critical period is very
important because this topic has impacted early childhood improvement and their
linguistic features. To make it clear, I set out to provide evidence for this
hypothesis. Hence, I investigated two articles that examined how language
development is affected once learners have passed the critical period by
comparing the articles and discussing the key findings to be used in teaching
and learning strategies.  

 

The comparison of studies           

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Current
studies have examined the Critical-Period Hypothesis by looking at testing age
effects on second language acquisition and the age of arrival to the United
States. Utilizing the Chinese and Spanish speakers for their research showed
reliability because both languages are structurally different than the English
language. Indeed, both studies used samples of second language learners who
varied in age; though, the study that was conducted by Hakuta, Bialystok, and
Wiley (2003) had a larger number of immigrants which was 2.3 million immigrants.
The English
proficiency was measured against Age of Arrival and a Self-Report on English ability (Hakuta, Bialystok, and Wiley,2003). Hakuta et
al (2003) used ages 15 and 20 on purpose. The age 15 was tested because it is
associated with puberty, and 20 was used to test if discontinuity was presented
after puberty.

 The result of testing the critical period
showed that there was a huge number of Chinese and Spanish speakers whose
critical period ended at age 15. However, there were many of them whose
critical period ended at age 20. Further, after examining 15 and 20-year-olds,
which means after the critical period, there is evidence that the English
language proficiency depends on how long the learners spend on learning the
language. Additionally, the study claimed a clear discontinuity in the
hypothesis that learning at a specific age would have indicated that the
discontinuity in L2 acquisition essential to CPH is nonexistent (Hakuta,
Bialystok and Wiley,2003).

On the
other hand, the study which was conducted by Huang (2014) investigated
specifically if there is a significant and Age of Arrival in the United States
effect (AOA) on L2 grammar and speech production. Huang (2014) used various
ages starting from the age of 5 to ensure that participants were learning
English as a second language, not both the languages Chinese and English by
providing grammar and speech tasks. The study’s results support the multiple
critical period effects which means that there are CP of some areas of
acquisition of second language end earlier than others. For example,  

Long 2005, Newport et al.
2001, Werker and Tees 2005 demonstrated that critical period of phonology
ended before puberty (as cited in Huang. pp. 413, 2014). In addition, Huang
(2014) showed that there is a specific age of learning effect for both L2
speech production and grammar outcomes, and the AOA had a larger influence on
speech production than the grammar outcomes.

Furthermore,
these studies explored the CPH by looking into data from two perspectives: the
rate of acquisition and ultimate attainment. In fact, Hakuta and his colleagues
(2003) agreed that there is no essential part of the Critical-Period; however,
they mentioned in their study that natural language acquisition is valuable to
young children, but it was slightly limited in older adolescents and adults
because they found a slow decline in the L2 acquisition. Eventually, both
studies discussed that when the L2 learners had a higher education and adequate
time for residency and learning the language, they accomplished the native-like
language successfully.

The reflection of studies

            I
learned how long it would take to find the specific articles to make a good
connection because CPH is a long debate among linguists and language
researchers, and it should be redefined for second language acquisition. A
recent study by Huang (2014) argued with the studies that have been done by
Penfield and Roberts (1959) and Lenneberg (1967) which confirmed the
Critical-Period Hypothesis (CPH). In fact, Hakuta et al (2003) proved that
there is a specific age of the critical period. Criticality, a self- report
measure that was done by Hakuta et al (2003) could potentially lead to inaccuracies
even though they used a large sample of bilingual immigrants to make their
study strong. Also, the limitation of Huang (2014) study was the small number of
participants, and it should be verified by future studies. In fact, after
investigating these articles, I believe that adults can acquire the L2
successfully no matter what are their ages. I am a second language learner and
exploring this topic, indeed, answered many questions that I have faced since I
started learning the language such as speech production which is related to
phenology term.

Importantly,
as a second language teacher, being knowledgeable of the critical period is
helpful because the findings can be used in teaching and learning strategies
for language. Thus, the teacher will be conscious of the students’ capacity to
acquire the SLA. For example, pronunciation is always the most difficult part
of the second language learning; therefore, teachers should try to provide
adequate materials that support the second language learners to handle their
complexities in phonology terms because some studies done by Scovel and
Singleton (1989) have debated that the phonology had the greatest impact after
passing the CP (as cited in Huang pp, 399, 2014). Teachers should immerse the
students in real life events of the language because adults can achieve
native-like if they used the real-life situations. For instance, communication
with native speakers can help learners of a second language to develop the accent
of that language gradually. 

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