The Critical Period Hypothesis
Critical period or critical periods?
The basic claim
Evidence for L1: feral children
Lenneberg, 1967
Bickerston, 1981
L2: L2 learning and acquisition
Bialystok, 1997,
Singleton & Lengyel, 1995
Feral children
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Socialising, teaching
and observing
Problems
- ethical experiments?
- teacher=researcher
(bias)
- relation between lack
of language and mental
+ social retardation
Kamala and Amala
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Found: 1920 (India)
Age: 8 years and 18
months
Taken into care
Limited vocabulary
Unusal words
No spontaneous use
No syntax
Genie
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Found: 1970 (California)
Age: 13
Taken into care
Fast progress in vocabulary
Sign language
Making sense of chaos
Spatial intelligence
No apparent mental
retardation
Aspects of study
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Neurological
Psychomotor
Cognitive
Affective
Linguistic
Contextual
Neurological considerations
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Lateralisation
Time
- Lenneberg 2-puberty
- Krashen 5
- Walsh & Diller (1981):
different timetables for different functions
Right - hemisphere functioning in SLA
Obler, 1981: strategies of acquisition,
guessing meaning, formulaic utterances
Lots of counterevidence
- Hill, 1970, Sorenson, 1967 - multilingual tribes
-
Psychomotor considerations
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Problems in accent studies
- native judgement
- testing isolated words and sentences
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Key issue: accent
- depends on muscular plasticity,
subject to CP
- the Kissinger effect
Cognitive considerations
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Piaget, 1972
- sharp change from concrete to formal
operation at puberty
- CP!! (+ or -??)
Superior cognitive capacity in adults (Ausubel, 1964)
- a watched pot never boils?
Rosansky, 1975
- „Problem-centred learning” of children
Piaget
- equilibrium for children and adults?
Rote and meaningful learning
Affective considerations
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Attitudes, beliefs, stereotypes,
Inhibition
- egocentrism – decentration-defending ego
Identity (Guiora, language ego)
- face threat
- second identity
- permeability of
language ego
Linguistic considerations
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Bilingualism
Strategies and processes in child L1 and L2
acqusition similar
Adults demonstrate similar mistakes
- acquisition order (Dulay and Burt, 1974),
- transfer is rare, creative langauge acquisition
- adults rely more on system of L1
Context
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Learning vs. acquisition
Motivation for learning
Input (motherese vs. foreigner talk)
Peer pressure
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The Critical Period Hypothesis