LING212- SLA How does age affect SLA? Florencia Franceschina Slide 2 1. Some observable facts A. Older is better in the short term B. Younger is better in the long term C. Even very extensive exposure does not guarantee native-like attainment Slide 3 Older is better Older learners have been observed to have an advantage in terms of rate of acquisition in the initial stages of SLA, both In naturalistic settings (e.g., Snow and Hoefnagel-Hoehle, 1978) In instructed settings (e.g., six studies in Garcia-Mayo and Garcia-Lecumberri, 2003) Slide 4 Snow and Hoefnagel-Hoehle (1978) L1 English / L2 Dutch Immersion Tasks: Pronunciation, auditory discrimination, morphology, sentence repetition, sentence translation, sentence judgement, story comprehension, Peabody Picture Vocabulary Test Findings: After 3 months residence: adults and adolescents outperformed children on tests After 10 months residence: the children caught up Slide 5 Garcia-Lecumberri and Gallardo (2003) L1 Spanish/Basque / L2 English Instructional setting Start age: 4, 8, 11 Mean time-span of exposure: 6 years for all Tasks: vowel/consonant discrimination, spoken production (measures of intelligibility, degree of foreign accent, overall performance) Most results indicate an advantage for the late starters Slide 6 Younger is better Immigrant studies have shown that there is a negative correlation between age of arrival (AoA) and level of L2 attainment Examples: - Oyama (1976, 1978) - Patkowski (1980) - Johnson and Newport (1989) - Hyltenstam (1992) Slide 7 Long exposure does not guarantee success Example: Coppieters (1987) 21 L2 French nearnatives LoR in France: 5.5-37 years task: intuitions about grammar none of them was within the NS range Slide 8 Other differences between adult and child SLA Younger and older learners make different types of mistakes in certain areas Example: Lasagaster and Doiz (2003) written production, L2 English 11/15/17 year-olds - younger learners make more spelling mistakes - younger learners resort to codeswitching more often - older learners make more tense mistakes, but they use more complex language than the younger ones Slide 9 2. Accounts of age effects Critical period vs. General age factors Slide 10 Critical Period Hypothesis (CPH) Lenneberg s original formulation (1967) Evidence: Recovery from brain damage (Lenneberg, 1967) Feral children (e.g., Genie - Curtiss, 1977) Late FLA in deaf signers (Mayberry, 1993) Slide 11 General age factors Example: Bialystok (1997), Bialystok and Hakuta (1994) argue against a cut-off point, and for a continuous decline of language learning abilities Slide 12 References Bialystok, E. 1997: The structure of age: in search of barriers to SLA. Second Language Research 13, 2: 116-137. Bialystok, E. and K. Hakuta. 1994: In other words: the science and psychology of second language acquisition. New York: Basic Books. Coppieters, R. 1987: Competence differences between native and near-native speakers. Language 63, 544-573. Curtiss, S. 1977: Genie: a psycholinguistic study of a modern-day "wild child". New York: Academic Press. Garcia Lecumberri, M. L. and F. Gallardo. 2003: English FL sounds in school learners of different ages, in M. D. P. Garcia Mayo and M. L. Garcia Lecumberri, eds. Age and the acquisition of English as a foreign language. Clevedon: Multilingual Matters. Pp. 115-135. Garcia Mayo, M. D. P. and M. L. Garcia Lecumberri. (eds.) 2003: Age and the acquisition of English as a foreign language. Clevedon: Multilingual Matters. Hyltenstam, K. 1992: Non-native features of near-native speakers. On the ultimate attainment of childhood L2 learners, in R. J. Harris, ed. Cognitive processing in bilinguals. Amsterdam: Elsevier. Pp. 351-368. Johnson, J. and E. Newport. 1989: Critical period effects in second language learning: the influence of maturational state on the acquisition of English as a second language. Cognitive Psychology 21, 60-99. Slide 13 References Lasagabaster, D. and A. Doiz. 2003: Maturational constraints on foreign language written production, in M. D. P. Garcia Mayo and M. L. Garcia Lecumberri, eds. Age and the acquisition of English as a foreign language. Clevedon: Multilingual Matters. Pp. 136-160. Lenneberg, E. H. 1967: Biological foundations of language. New York: John Wiley. Mayberry, R. I. 1993: First language acquisition after childhood differs from second language acquisition: the case of ASL. Journal of Speech and Hearing Research 36, 1258-1270. Oyama, S. 1976: A sensitive period for the acquisition of a non-native phonological system. Journal of Psycholinguistic Research 5, 3: 261-283. Oyama, S. 1978: The sensitive period and comprehension of speech. Working Papers on Bilingualism 16, 1-17. Patkowski, M. 1980: The sensitive period for the acquisition of syntax in a second language. Language Learning 30, 449-472. Snow, C. E. and M. Hoefnagel-Hoehle. 1978: The critical period for language acquisition: evidence from second language learning. Child Development 49, 1114-1128. Slide 14 Reading Singleton, D. 1995: Introduction: a critical look at the Critical Period Hypothesis in SLA research. In D. Singleton and Z. Lengyel (eds.): The age factor in second language acquisition. Clevedon: Multilingual Matters. Pp. 1-29.