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The Second Language Acquisition Name Institutional Affiliation
Question #1: Do differences in AGE play a role in SLA? if so, how? Explain how this relates to the critical period hypothesis. What do the studies show? The differences in age play a significant role in second language acquisition (S.L.A.). In fact, younger children may perform better language learning skills in comparison to the adults, in the concerns of the ability to learn a second language (Gass & Selinker, 2008). Still, the adult learners would acquire higher learning rate because they are able to learn faster than the children, especially in morphological and syntactic development. Thus, while the children have better ultimate attainment in language learning skills, the adults have a better learning rate. In addition, the age effect on second language learning also depends on several other linguistics factors. While claiming that children acquires better language learning skills than the adults, it is critical to specify those linguistics factors for specific measurements. The first factor of the age effect in learning a second language would be the critical period hypothesis. Thus, it is necessary to consider the difference between the critical period and the sensitive period in language learning. The critical period is the period of time that certain stimulus is required to be proceeded so that the ordinary development from the age of acquisition of an individual would be able to happen. The sensitive period is the period of time that children from the age of first exposure are able to adopt language learning skill easily and naturally even though they are not educated or instructed. For example, a three-year-old (age of first exposure) Chinese child would be able to learn Chinese language at the sensitive period. By the time he/she is six years old (age of acquisition), he/she moves to America and starts to learn English at the critical period. In case the child has no contact with Chinese, the Chinese language would become his/her second language, and the English language would become his/her first language. This is the age effect from the critical period hypothesis, which indicates the limited period during the development process that an individual may adopt a language as the first language, or a second language as native speakers. This limited period 2
during the development process is called the “window of opportunity,” which concerns the temporal span during which sensitivity or learning potential is at the peak attainment (Birdsong, 2006). The age-related declines in learning ability is not a onetime event because it influences one linguistic domain at first and then the others, which are not limited to phonology. The declines may start at six years old, not at puberty. These claims are based on evidence of English and other European languages as well.

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