Essay on How Does Language Acquisition And Age Really?
It is widely believed that the earlier people start learning a language, the more successful they will be. However, it is difficult to ascertain how much intertwined language acquisition and age really are. The concept of a sensitive period, that is a phase during development when learning a particular skill can occur more effectively than later on in life, is well known in nature. A few examples are imprinting in ducks and song learning for songbirds (Clark 2009). The sensitive period is sometimes regarded as critical, implying that, once it is past, that specific skill can no longer be learnt.
The idea that human language is normally acquired during a critical period was proposed by Lenneberg with the Critical Period Hypothesis (CPH). Considering data regarding recovery from aphasia, Lenneberg (1967) hypothesized that language learning could only occur during a critical period, lasting from age two until twelve. This happens as the lateralization of the brain, that is the specialization of the left hemisphere for language, is by then considered to be complete. Therefore the critical period is the reason why the ‘automatic acquisition from mere exposure to a given language seems to disappear after this age [puberty]’ and ‘foreign accents cannot be overcome easily after puberty’(Lenneberg 1967:176).
Because of its central role in language learning, over the last decades the CPH has been the subject of an intense debate within the linguistic community. Although…