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Included 3 the critical period 2013

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Included 3 the critical period 2013

  1. 1. Age and Language Acquisition
  2. 2. Language Acquisition and the age LA studies suggest that kids are “built to learnlanguage” in a way that adults are not. Perhaps there is a “sensitive period” early in lifewhere one absorbs languages? A sensitiveperiod which ends at some point…
  3. 3. The Critical Period Hypothesis
  4. 4. Lenneberg 1967 Lenneberg 1967 (or Penfield and Roberts1959) is usually considered to be the writtenorigin of this idea that there is a “criticalperiod” or “sensitive period” for languageacquisition. He based this on several observations,including the observation that critical periodsare biologically common.
  5. 5. The Critical Period HypothesisThe Critical Period Hypothesis– This hypothesis states that there is only asmall window of time for a first language tobe natively acquired.– If a child is denied language input, he/shewill not acquire language
  6. 6. THE CRITICAL PERIOD HYPOTHESIS Critical period: a biologically determined period of linewhen language can be acquired more easily andbeyond which time language is increasingly difficult toacquire. Eric Lenneberg (1967) argued that the LAD, like otherbiological functions, works successfully only when itis stimulated at the right time – a time which isreferred to as the critical period‟
  7. 7. There are two versions of the CPH:1. The strong version suggests that children must acquiretheir first language by puberty or they will never be ableto learn from subsequent exposure.2. The weak version is that language learning will be moredifficult and incomplete after puberty. The Critical Period Hypothesis (CPH) claims that there issuch a biological timetable. Initially the notion of a critical period was connected onlyto first language acquisition.
  8. 8. Critical period or critical periods?The basic claim- strong and weak versionsEvidence for L1: feral childrenL2: learning and acquisition
  9. 9. Critical & sensitive periodsOther biologically determined deadlines:- imprinting: chicks & ducklings follow first thing they see(it’s likely their mommy)- visual cells in humans: if cells for both eyes don’t receive visual inputduring the first year or so of life, they lose the ability to respond to visualinput“sensitive period”: biologically determined period during which learningmust occur for development to happen correctly, but development can stilloccur partially after this period
  10. 10. Critical & sensitive periodsHow do we test for a critical/sensitive period for languageacquisition?
  11. 11. Critical & sensitive periodsHow do we test for a critical/sensitive period for languageacquisition?Ideal experiment: deprive children of all linguisticinput during the purported critical period and seehow language development occurs.Problem: ideal experiment isn’t so ideal ethically or logistically
  12. 12. Critical & sensitive periodsSome historical cases that have unintentionallyprovided lack of linguistic input to children:Problem:the lack of language may be dueto other reasons
  13. 13. Wild Peter (13/1724)Victor (11/1800)Kaspar Houser (16/1828)Kamala and Amala(18m., 8/1920)
  14. 14. Feral children Socialising, teachingand observing Problems- ethical experiments?- teacher=researcher bias- relation between lack oflanguage and mental +social retardation
  15. 15. Critical & sensitive periodsHow do we test for a critical period for languageacquisition?A more thorough study: Genie
  16. 16. Critical & sensitive periodsHow do we test for a critical period for language acquisition?Genie1970s: 13-year-old Genie brought by her mother to socialservices after escaping mentally ill father; until mother’sescape, had no language input (and very horrific livingconditions)By age 17, she had a 5-year-old’s vocabulary, and couldexpress meanings by combining words together.
  17. 17. Genie Severe socialisolation Thought to bementally retarded Punished for speech 20 words,colours,”stoppit”,„nomore”
  18. 18. Research and socialisation Taken into care The first year: HOPE- plural and singular nouns,- positive and negative sentences- 2/3-word sentences.
  19. 19.  Later: slow-down Four years later- No negation- No + V + Object- No proper questions"Where is may I have a penny?""I where is graham cracker on top shelf?"
  20. 20. Confused her pronouns, you andme interchangeableHello‘, Thank you‘Stopit‘, Nomore addressed toherself
  21. 21. Critical & sensitive periodsHowever…syntactic skills lagged far behind - deficient inboth production and comprehension.“Mama wash hair in sink.” “Like go ride yellow school bus.”“At school scratch face.” “Father take piece wood. Hit. Cry.”“I want Curtiss play piano.” “Applesauce buy store”“Man motorcycle have.” “Father hit Genie cry long time ago.”Dichotic listening tasks showed language was a right-hemisphere activity for her.
  22. 22. Support for CPH? Severe neglect and emotional trauma Possibility of mental retardation Right-hemisphere dominance Language not lateralised to left-hemisphere:cause or result?
  23. 23. Critical & sensitive periodsHow do we test for a critical period for languageacquisition?One success story for lack of linguistic input with a youngchild: Isabelle1930s: 6-year-old Isabelle discovered hidden away ina dark room with a deaf-mute mother as her only contact.She was taught to speak and by age 8, appeared to benormal.Potential implication:Isabelle discovered before critical period was over.
  24. 24. Critical & sensitive periodsHow do we test for a critical/sensitive period for language acquisition?Another study: Chelsea (Curtiss 1988)Family background: A partially deaf woman incorrectly diagnosedas “retarded”. From a loving home.Discovered at age 31, and fitted with hearing aidsOutcome: Learned a large vocabulary, but syntax and morphologyworse than Genie.
  25. 25. Evidence from the deaf Chelsea- First diagnosis: retardation- Warm, supportive family, search for help- At 31: diagnosed to be deaf- IQ levels for a normal 10 year old- Works at a vet’s, reads, writes,communicates- Strings of words, with no syntactic structure- Utterances comprehensible in context
  26. 26. Critical periodsSample speech from Chelsea:(1)The small a the hat(2) Orange Tim car in(3) I Wanda be drive come(4) Breakfast eating girl(5) They are is car in the Tim
  27. 27. Evidence from neurology Medical evidence Right hemisphere compensates for languagecapacity in childhood No such compensation in adulthood
  28. 28. Critical & sensitive periodsHow do we test for a critical period for language acquisition?Late acquisition of sign language (ASL):deaf-of-hearing children whose parents don’tknow sign language. Children are eventuallyexposed to sign language when theyencounter other deaf children.
  29. 29. Critical & sensitive periodsHow do we test for a critical/sensitive period for languageacquisition?If critical or sensitive period is true, children who learnfrom infancy should be better than children who learnedlater –this is what Newport (1990) found. Children who were 4-6 when first exposed were far superior in their signlanguage ability to children who were exposed after age12.
  30. 30. Critical & sensitive periodsHow do we test for a critical period for language acquisition?Also important: not just about how long signlanguage speakers had known the language.Speakers who had been signing for more than30 years showed this same difference: thoseexposed younger were far superior in theirlanguage skills to those exposed when they wereolder.
  31. 31. Evidence from sign language Native – clear advantage in the use ofgrammatical markers Early starters Late starters
  32. 32. Conclusion Is there a CPH in LA?- Clear neurological evidence- Suggestive evidence from the deaf- Feral children - inconclusive

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