Age on Acquisition of a Second Language

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Even though there are a lot of people who might think that the matter of age has no effect on acquisition of a second language, I think I'm the kind of a person who believes in a large area of effects of it, on the second language acquisition especially when it comes to

speaking. In this study, I'm going to include three steps which would prove my

argumentation that is my first step , and the method I used for my argumentative paragraphs is

induction in which I first state my own major ideas and then add some suitable minors to it.

Furthermore I quote the valuable information which I have taken from my references, that are

indicated at the final pages of the research, and at the end I sum up the material in order to

draw my own hypothesis about the topic, and get to a definite point. By the way I have two

reasons of my own about the topic and then I connect them to the Ideas taken from the

references as mentioned before.

Firstly, children are living in a much more modern society which is filled with

technology and means of communication that are highly related to English language (which is a

kind of second language to most of the people around the world), such as computers, internet,

online games and lots of other stuff. Thus they have a better tendency and capacity to acquire a

language even with a lot of differences from their mother-tongue, especially in pronunciation

and intonation which are two quintessence of speaking. For instance children are more likely

to monkey the way of pronunciation and intonation that they see in the movies, cartoons, and

specially computer games( Which are different from the ones in the past that only used to be a

kind of entertainment, nowadays computer games, like novels and movies convey a lot of

valuable information about history, literature, politics, and even biology and modern things

happening in the world), in this case, they would apparently have a better pronunciation and

intonation which would make them completely different and somehow better than adults in

terms of speaking . Since I'm a teacher myself and I have had classes with both children and

adults in different ages and different levels, I've experienced this matter at first hand, so

even though it is obvious to me that the factor of age has a large area of effects on the second

language acquisition particularly in terms of speaking, I will introduce and quote some

references in the next step, in which a lot of experiments and surveys have been done; in order

to prove my own words.

Second, acquiring or learning the grammar of a second language, needs a kind

of logic and mature type of thinking so as to prevent common grammatical problems such as;

overgeneralization, which is completely prevalent and common among children or immature

people. Adults can completely cope with some exceptions or special cases in the grammar

spots they learn and they are a bit more patient than children, thus they think deeply about it

and never forget the hints and clues while speaking. To illustrate the point, children usually

forget when and how to use the verb tenses and they mostly whether mix them, or simply use

the simple present form instead of others ( this will be proved in the next step). This could also

be because adults, as they know the importance of learning a language and it's different uses,

have a better motivation than children, who usually learn a language by the force of their

parents.

Now that I have stated my own opinions which were gathered from the

references, let us go through the references and their related parts to this research in a flesh

(remember: APA style is used here to quote the ideas of the authors of references).

Few researchers would doubt that ultimate attainment in

second language grammar is negatively correlated with age of acquisition,

but considerable controversy remains about the nature of this relationship:

the exact shape of the age-attainment function and its interpretation. This

article presents two parallel studies with native speakers of Russian: one on

the acquisition of English as a second language in North America (n = 76),

and one on the acquisition of Hebrew as a second language in Israel (n =

64). Despite the very different nature of the languages being learned, the

two studies show very similar results. When age at testing is partial out, the

data reveal a steep decline in the learning of grammar before age 18 in both

groups, followed by an essentially horizontal slope until age 40. This is

interpreted as evidence in favor of the critical period. Both groups show a

significant correlation between ultimate attainment and verbal aptitude for

the adult learners, but not

for the early learners. This is interpreted as further evidence that the

learning processes in childhood and adulthood not only yield different levels

of proficiency but are also different in nature.

DekeyseHYPERLINK "http://www.eric.ed.gov/ERICWebPortal/search/simpleSearch.jsp?_pageLabel=ERICSearchResult&_urlType=action&newSearch=true&ERICExtSearch_SearchType_0=au&ERICExtSearch_SearchValue_0="Dekeyser+Robert"" HYPERLINK "http://www.eric.ed.gov/ERICWebPortal/search/simpleSearch.jsp?_pageLabel=ERICSearchResult&_urlType=action&newSearch=true&ERICExtSearch_SearchType_0=au&ERICExtSearch_SearchValue_0="Dekeyser+Robert""r,HYPERLINK "http://www.eric.ed.gov/ERICWebPortal/search/simpleSearch.jsp?_pageLabel=ERICSearchResult&_urlType=action&newSearch=true&ERICExtSearch_SearchType_0=au&ERICExtSearch_SearchValue_0="Dekeyser+Robert"" Robert;  AlfHYPERLINK "http://www.eric.ed.gov/ERICWebPortal/search/simpleSearch.jsp?_pageLabel=ERICSearchResult&_urlType=action&newSearch=true&ERICExtSearch_SearchType_0=au&ERICExtSearch_SearchValue_0="Alfi-Shabtay+Iris"" HYPERLINK "http://www.eric.ed.gov/ERICWebPortal/search/simpleSearch.jsp?_pageLabel=ERICSearchResult&_urlType=action&newSearch=true&ERICExtSearch_SearchType_0=au&ERICExtSearch_SearchValue_0="Alfi-Shabtay+Iris""i-HYPERLINK "http://www.eric.ed.gov/ERICWebPortal/search/simpleSearch.jsp?_pageLabel=ERICSearchResult&_urlType=action&newSearch=true&ERICExtSearch_SearchType_0=au&ERICExtSearch_SearchValue_0="Alfi-Shabtay+Iris"" Shabtay, Iris ;  HYPERLINK "http://www.eric.ed.gov/ERICWebPortal/search/simpleSearch.jsp?_pageLabel=ERICSearchResult&_urlType=action&newSearch=true&ERICExtSearch_SearchType_0=au&ERICExtSearch_SearchValue_0="Ravid+Dorit""Ravid, Dorit (2010).

Learning a second or foreign language is a long and time-

consuming process, and not all language learners may be able to achieve a

very high level of proficiency in the target language. It is even rarer to find

second or foreign language learners who can use the target language

as well as native speakers of the language. Researchers in the field of

second language acquisition (SLA) have long been concerned with the

factors that prevent learners from attaining such a successful level of

language learning. Among various factors that have been empirically

investigated, age has seemed to figure prominently in the literature. The

critical period hypothesis (CPH) has been proposed to explicate the reason

why adult language learners are unable to achieve native-like proficiency.

This paper aims at providing a brief overview of the CPH. First, the origin of

the CPH is pointed out. Second, studies that support the CPH and those that

attempt to falsify the CPH are discussed respectively. It is argued that

although it is hard for adult learners to attain native-like proficiency in

another language, it may still be possible. Moreover, the importance of

finding out if the CPH is true or not may not be as important as trying to

help learners to use the language more effectively. It is concluded that

helping learners to communicate effectively in the target language is

more logically and realistic than trying to help them to emulate native

_speakers of the target language.

Tran, Thu Hoang.(2009).

When natural language input contains grammatical forms that

are used probabilistically and inconsistently, learners will sometimes

reproduce the inconsistencies; but sometimes they will instead regularize

the use of these forms, introducing consistency in the language that was not

present in the input. In this paper we ask what produces such regularization.

We conducted three artificial language experiments, varying the use of

determiners in the types of inconsistency with which they are used, and also

comparing adult and child learners. In Experiment 1 we presented adult

learners with "scattered inconsistency"--the use of multiple determiners

varying in frequency in the same context--and found that adults will

reproduce these inconsistencies at low levels of scatter, but at very high

levels of scatter will regularize the determiner system, producing the

most frequent determiner form almost all the time. In Experiment 2 we

showed that this is not merely the result of frequency: when determiners are

used with low frequencies but in consistent contexts, adults will learn all of

the determiners veridical. In Experiment 3 we compared adult and child

learners, finding that children will almost always regularize inconsistent

forms, whereas adult learners will only regularize the most complex

inconsistencies. Taken together, these results suggest that

regularization processes in natural language learning, such as those seen in

the acquisition of language from non-native speakers or in the formation of

young languages, may depend crucially on the nature of language learning

by young children.

Hudson Kam, Carla L.; Newport, Elissa L.(2010).

Children adopted from abroad at older ages have unique speech

and language-learning issues. At adoption, the impact of longer stays in

orphanages with their associated lack of enrichment, nutrition, and

healthcare is more pronounced. After adoption, the children begin school in

a new language soon after arriving home. These children quickly lose their

birth language before gaining proficiency in the new adopted language,

leaving them vulnerable to academic learning difficulties during the

transition period. Speech-language pathologists and educators need to

understand the typical progression of language learning in this unique group

of children so they can determine which children need extra support during

the language transition process. This article reviews predation issues in older

children and provides preliminary information on typical patterns

of speech and language acquisition observed during the first year home

based on data for a group of children adopted from Eastern Europe between

the ages of 2 to 4. It also discusses the impact of age of adoption on

language outcomes and provides guidelines for valid assessment of speech

and language in this unique population of children. Glennen, Sharon(2010).

There is a study which investigates whether a computer

assisted pronunciation training (CAPT) system can help young learners

improve word-level pronunciation skills in English as a foreign language at a

level comparable to that achieved through traditional teacher-led training.

The pronunciation improvement of a group of learners of 11 years of age

receiving teacher-fronted instruction was compared to that of a group

receiving computer assisted pronunciation training by means of a system

including an automatic speech recognition component. Results show that 1)

pronunciation quality of isolated words improved significantly for both

groups of subjects, and 2) both groups significantly improved in

pronunciation quality of words that were considered particularly

difficult to pronounce and that were likely to have been unknown to them

prior to the training. Training with a computer-assisted pronunciation

training system with a simple automatic speech recognition component can

thus lead to short-term improvements in pronunciation that are

comparable to those achieved by means of more traditional, teacher-led

pronunciation training. Neri, A., Mich, O., Gerosa, M. & Giuliani, D(2008).

Another research study investigated the effectiveness of massive

multiplayer online role-playing game (MMORPG)-based (massive multiplayer

online role-playing game) instruction in elementary English education. The

effectiveness of the MMORPG program was compared with face-to-face

instruction and the independent variables (gender, prior knowledge,

motivation for learning, self-directed learning skills, computer skills, game

skills, computer capacity, network speed, and computer accessibility) were

examined to see how accurately achievement was predicted in MMORPG

instruction. The results indicated that students studying English utilizing

online role-playing games showed higher scores in areas of listening,

reading, and writing than those who attended face-to-face instruction

classes. It was also found that prior knowledge, motivation for learning, and

network speed were factors affecting achievement in English learning. These

findings suggest that MMORPGs can play an important role in improving

English communicative skills. Suh, S.; (2010)

There is another study, which the aim of it is to design and

develop a Physically Interactive Learning Environment, the PILE system, by

integrating video-capture virtual reality technology into a classroom. The

system is designed for elementary school level English classes where

students can interact with the system through physical movements. The

system is designed to be easily established with a minimal amount of

equipments that includes a personal computer, a webcam, and a projector.

The learning activities comprise six stages, holding specific tasks and

learning objectives. Each stage is designed with a distinct device. These

devices, including a conical cap, a pistol, a searchlight, a magnet, and a

spray paint can, are designed to improve the accuracy of detection as well

as to increase student enjoyment during the learning process. Furthermore,

the system consists of five functional modules, such as providing an

interface for teachers to incorporate appropriate learning materials according

to their specific teaching requirements. An empirical study is

conducted to examine the effects of the use of the PILE system by

comparing two different types of English learning methods with 60 second-

grade students from two classes at an elementary school in Taiwan. Four

different tests are used to assess the different aspects of the system: an

English learning achievement test, a questionnaire assessing students'

learning motivation, a Short Feedback Questionnaire (SFQ), and a teacher

interview. The results of students' English learning achievement tests show

that there was a significant difference between the pretest and the posttest

in the experimental group, as well as between the two groups in the delayed

test. These results demonstrate that the system had a significantly beneficial

effect on students' long-term learning. The results from the questionnaires

on students' learning motivation and the SFQ reveal that the system

enhanced the students' learning motivation. The results gained from the

teacher's interview illustrate that the teacher believed this system was

beneficial in assisting English learning. All findings collectively demonstrate

that the proposed PILE system effectively assist English learning in a

classroom environment. Yang, Jie Chi; Chen, Chih Hung; Jeng, Ming Chang(2010).

To sum up the material, age has a vast effect on the acquisition of a second language according

to the major ideas given above, whether in terms of pronunciation in which children have a

better chance and are considered superior, or in case of grammar in which adults have a more

power full position.

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