SLA paper espartas

SLA paper espartas - 1 Teaching Languages Early Within the...

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1 Teaching Languages Early Within the realm of second language learning there exists a great deal of discussion regarding teaching second languages to children. There are many facets of this discussion, including the Critical Period Hypothesis, the advantages and disadvantages of learning a second language at a younger age, and the type of classroom that proves most advantageous for this type of education. Although there are many who believe otherwise, teaching a second language to children proves advantageous and is an item to which a great deal of care must be given. There are some who advocate that, due to biological factors, children possess the abilities to more easily obtain a second language. This is called the Critical Period Hypothesis. It asserts that, due to “biological mechanisms specifically designed for language acquisition…that cease to be available at or before puberty” it is more difficult for someone who is older to learn a language, because they must rely on other factors that are not part of the design of one’s body to learn a language (Lightbown & Spada, 2006). Therefore, the process of learning a language is less difficult for children. However, though the hypothesis remains popular today, there is significant evidence to suggest that it can be disproven. There have been a number of studies done that examine the validity of this statement. One such study examined the language acquisition of several different groups of immigrants. The study found that, rather than relating to age, the success in language acquisition more directly correlated to the age at migration and the depth of immersion within the second language (Chiswick & Willer, 2008). Another study examined immigrants in Australia specifically; its findings support the notion that the level of education and the age of arrival were largely responsible for how successful the people were. Other studies have focused less on immigrants and more on second language acquisition as a whole. Studies by
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2 MacWhinney state that a Critical Period does not exist; rather, a gradual decline in one’s potential to learn exists as one ages. This is supported by a study by Hyltenstam and
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SLA paper espartas - 1 Teaching Languages Early Within the...

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