Second Language Acquisition Literature Review

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Second Language Acquisition- A literature review of the critical period hypothesis: are children more prone to learning a second language? The world human beings live in is rising due to an unstoppable tide of technology merging all cultures into one. This requires that individuals learn more than one language to fulfill their vocational and social duties in general. Ever since the beginning of time, individuals used different forms of language to communicate; this has distinguished them from animals, some used drawings, others used letters and finally humanity developed in a way to reach the ultimate idea of language and grammar. Language is one of the major tools of communication amongst human beings; cognitive psychologists thus thrive to…show more content…
However, there is no consensus over what this role is. It is commonly believed that as individuals grow older, their ability to acquire a new language systematically and gradually declines. This idea is made clear by the Critical Period Hypothesis (CPH) that is much debated by the linguistics and cognitive science communities. This hypothesis proposes that the degree to which individuals can acquire a new language is linked biologically with age. Penfield & Robert’s (1959) hypothesis attempted to demonstrate that there is "a biologically determined period of life when language can be acquired more easily and beyond which time language is increasingly difficult to acquire." The hypothesis therefore states that there is an idyllic time frame to acquiring a language in an environment that is linguistically rich. CPH further adds that trying to acquire a language after the proposed time window becomes a lot more effortful and difficult. It is essential to highlight that CPH is used in two different contexts to express two different issues. The first is the one that we have explained above which suggests that a language is best acquired the first years of life to reach native linguistic proficiency. In the second context, CPH is used to describe a decline in neural plasticity that is directly related to age and that decline in plasticity can explain the difficulty of…show more content…
The Acquisition-Learning distinction is crucial because it gives an argument opposing the effortful labor of learning a new language in adults. Krashen (1988) explained that there are two independent ways in which a second language performance can be regarded. The first is the acquired system and is the product of a mind process, a subconscious one that is very similar to the one that happens with children when acquiring their native/mother tongue. This process requires continuous interaction with the target language. On the other hand, Krashen (1988) also explained that the learned system is the result of a very formal way of learning a language that involves the conscious process of being knowledgeable about a language. This includes learning grammatical rules and semantic structure making. Krashen (1988) concludes that learning is less important than acquisition. However, he explains that this distinction is crucial as it explains how a big majority of adults are able to possess a second language. Keeping this in mind, I would argue that although the CPH hypothesis makes sense in explaining brain plasticity in acquiring a language, there is a way for adults to learn a second language albeit they might not do so perfectly. There have been many cases of adults who has acquired a language in the Krashenian way,
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