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The Critical Period Hypothesis. Definition.

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definition
Definition

A maturational period during which some experience will have its peak effect on development or learning resulting in normal behaviour attuned to the particular environment the organism has been exposed to. If exposure to this experience happens after this time, it will only have reduced or no effect. (Newport)

critical period or critical periods
Critical period or critical periods?

The basic claim

- strong and weak versions

Evidence

- feral children

- child aphasia

- deaf speakers and signers

- L2 learning and acquisition

evidence from the deaf chelsea
Evidence from the deaf: Chelsea
  • Retareded or deaf?
  • Hearing aid, normal capacity
  • IQ = 10 year old
  • Works at a vet’s, reads, writes, communicates
  • Strings of words, no syntactic structure
  • Utterances comprehensible in context
evidence from sign language
Evidence from sign language
  • Native – clear advantage in the use of grammatical markers
  • Early starters
  • Late starters
evidence from neurology
Evidence from neurology
  • Medical evidence: childhood aphasia
  • Right hemisphere compensates for language capacity in childhood
  • No such compensation in adulthood
  • Controversial evidence for normal exposure and brain capacity
processing l1 and l2
Processing L1 and L2
  • L1 in both moniolinguals and bilinguals shows strong left hemisphere control
  • In later learners (even after 7) the active brain regions processing L2 and partially or completely non-overlapping with L1 areas
  • Neural organisation in late L2 is also less lateralisaed (more strategic control!!)
slide8
Onset of L1 has great influence, onset of L2 doesn’t
  • Even overhearing a language, but not speaking or using it or hearing it again can reult in native like control later in life
feral children
Feral children
  • Socialising, teaching and observing
  • Problems

- ethical experiments?

- teacher=researcher bias

- relation between lack of language and mental + social retardation

wild peter 13 1724 victor 11 1800 kaspar houser 16 1828 kamala and amala 18m 8 1920
Wild Peter (13/1724)Victor (11/1800)Kaspar Houser (16/1828)Kamala and Amala (18m., 8/1920)
genie
Genie
  • Found: 13/1970
  • Severe social isolation
  • Thought to be mentally retarded
  • Punished for speech
  • 20 words, colours,”stoppit”, „nomore”
research and socialisation
Research and socialisation
  • Taken into care
  • The first year: HOPE
  • plural and singular nouns,
  • positive and negative sentences
  • 2/3-word sentences.
slide13
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?"

slide14
Chomsky- no 'movement‘( reorganise the underlying declarative sentence)
  • Confused her pronouns, 'you' and 'me' interchangeable
  • 'Hello‘, 'Thank you‘
  • 'Stopit‘, 'Nomore' addressed to herself
achievements
Achievements
  • Sign language
  • Making sense of chaos
  • Spatial intelligence
  • Social relations
  • No apparent

mental retardation

support for cph
Support for CPH?
  • Severe neglect and emotional trauma
  • Possibility of mental retardation
  • Right-hemisphere dominance
  • Language not lateralised to left-hemisphere: cause or result?
conclusion
Conclusion
  • Is there a CPH in FLA?
    • Clear neurological evidence (compensation)
    • Suggestive evidence from the deaf
    • Feral children - inconclusive
cph in sll sla weak version
CPH in SLL/SLA: Weak version
  • Neurological
  • Psychomotor
  • Cognitive
  • Affective
  • Linguistic
  • Contextual
neurological considerations
Neurological considerations
  • Lateralisation
  • Time

- Lenneberg: 2-puberty

- Krashen: 5

- Walsh & Diller:

different timetables for different

functions

alternative considerations and counterevidence
Alternative considerations and counterevidence
  • Left/Right cooperation in SLA

Obler (1981): strategies of acquisition, guessing meaning, formulaic utterances

psychomotor considerations
Psychomotor considerations
  • Problems in accent studies

-native judgement

- testing isolated utterances,

controlled language

  • Key issue: accent

-depends on muscular plasticity, subject to CP

- the Henry Kissinger effect

- significance? ELF

cognitive considerations
Cognitive considerations
  • Piaget, 1972

- sharp change from concrete to formal operation at puberty

a watched pot never boils
A watched pot never boils?
  • Equilibrium
  • Superior cognitive capacity in adults (Ausubel, 1964)

- a watched pot never boils?

  • Rote and meaningful learning
affective considerations
Affective considerations
  • Attitudes, beliefs, stereotypes,
  • Inhibition

egocentrism – decentration – defending ego

slide30
Motivation

- internal

- external

- integrative

- instrumental

slide31
Identity (Guiora)

- face threat

- second identity

- language ego

- permeability of

language ego

linguistic considerations
Bilingualism

- coordinate vs. compound

Linguistic considerations
strategies and processes in child l1 and l2 acquisition similar
similar mistakes in acquisition

acquisition order (Dulay and Burt, 1974)

transfer is rare, creative language acquisition

adults rely more on system of L1

Strategies and processes in child L1 and L2 acquisition similar
context
Context
  • Learning vs. acquisition
  • Input (motherese vs. foreigner talk)
  • Peer pressure and group dynamics
benefits for young learners in instructed fll
Benefits for young learners in instructed FLL

- Accent (esp. with native speaker)

- Acquisition (if rooted in activity and ample

time and + atmosphere available)

- Low inhibition, communicating in L2:

natural

- Natural curiosity

- Little L1 influence

- No preconceptions about language and culture

drawbacks
Drawbacks
  • No (recognition of) communicative need
  • No reliance on reading/writing
  • No formal operation
  • Difficult to reproduce a rich „here and now”

context in classroom

  • Emergence of speech is to be tolerated
  • Difficult to demonstrate a sense of progress
  • Highly context and person dependent
benefits for adults in instructed fll
Benefits for adults in instructed FLL
  • Formal operation: grammar, vocabulary
  • Learn through explanation (no exposure)
  • L1
  • Previous learning strategies
  • Controlled motivation, goal orientation
  • Not strongly context dependent
  • Experience, beliefs might create + attitude
  • Faster development, better use of instructional time
drawbacks38
Drawbacks
  • Too much reliance on the rational mind
  • Monitoring
  • Low tolerance of ambiguity
  • No or little involvement of affect
  • Inhibitions, L2 ego
  • Previous experience, attitudes
  • Accent
  • L1, L2, etc.