Evaluating the Critical Period Hypothesis from the Perspective of L1 Attrition

Topics: Linguistics, Language acquisition, Second language acquisition Pages: 10 (3027 words) Published: June 15, 2013
Julius-Maximilians-Universität Würzburg
Institut für Anglistik
Sprachwissenschaft

Hauptseminar
Prof. Dr. Baris Kabak

Topic:
“Evaluating the critical Period Hypothesis from the perspective of L1 Attrition”

Von: Thilo Peter
Matrikelnummer: 1511472
Felix-Dahn-Str. 3 97072, thilo.peter@stud-mail.uni-wuerzburg.de, Englisch Lehramt Gymnasium alte LPO, 8. Semester. 31.07.2012 Table of Contents:
1. Introduction……………………………………………….….3 2. The Critical Period Hypothesis………………………………4 3.1 Formulations of the Critical Period Hypothesis……….…4 3.2 Duration of the Critical Period Hypothesis……………....5 3.3 Age Effects in second Language Learning………….…...6 3.4 Ultimate Attainment……………………………………..6 3. First Language Attrition……………………………………..8 4.5 What is Attrition…………………………………………8 4.6 The Critical Period Hypothesis in Language Attrition......9 4. Conclusion………………………………………….…….…10 5. List of References……………………………………….…..12 6.

1. Introduction

In this paper I will be addressing and evaluating the Critical Period Hypothesis, particularly from the perspective of first language attrition. Therefore I will first give a short overview of the Critical Period Hypothesis and the current discussions about the topic and then I will explain the first language attrition, to be able to review the Critical Period Hypothesis from the perspective of first language attrition. My focus in this will be on the discussions about the Critical Period Hypothesis, as they center on the most important factor regarding this topic: Is there a critical period in language learning? If there wasn’t, then the whole hypothesis would be irrelevant, but the hypothesis of a critical period itself is still controversial, and so are the formulations of the hypothesis, although the research in this field has already been operating for some decades. There are a lot of experimental studies about this, but they often seem to contradict each other. Sometimes they are analyzed differently, which leads to different conclusions from one and the same data. Also, this disaccord can be explained partly due to the methodological complexity of the matter and the fact that there is a lack of subjects, and thus a lack of representative studies. Lately some researchers have begun to do research on the relevance of first language attrition to the Critical Period Hypothesis and this is what I am going to investigate in this paper to find further clues about the Hypothesis and to be able to evaluate it in line with the latest research findings.

2. The Critical Period Hypothesis
There is a widely accepted notion that there is a critical period for language development. Many people believe that the younger learners of a foreign language may learn that language more quickly, easily and these people would attribute these age differences to the adult’s lack of “flexibility”. The critical period hypothesis that deals with this issue is assuming that there is a period in which it is possible to attain “native-like” aptitude in a language, be it first or second language. After this period, which extends roughly from early childhood to puberty, it may not be possible to attain the same level of language performance due to biological maturation. From a neuropsychological or biological perspective, it is now interesting whether this claim holds true and if it does, whether it is determined by which factors. But before that, we will first take a closer look at what the critical period hypothesis really is and what defines it by looking at the formulation the Critical Period Hypothesis.

3.1 Formulations of the Critical Period Hypothesis

When distinguishing between the different formulations for the critical period hypothesis, they can be divided into strong and specific ones. The general formulation is a strong one and: “claims that there is a period during...

References: Flores, Cristina: The effect of age on language attrition: Evidence from bilingual returnees. In Bilingualism: Language and Cognition 13 (4), 2010, 533–546.
Köpke, Barbara: Language attrition: theoretical perspectives. Amsterdam, Benjamins, 2007.
Schmid, Monika S.: L1 attrition and the mental lexicon. In: Aneta Pavlenko (ed.), The Bilingual Mental Lexicon. Clevedon, Multilingual Matters, 2008.
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