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Children and Adult Language Acquisition

Children and adult have a different ability in learning a foreign language. The difference between child and adult ability in learning a foreign language has been researched by some experts and  teachers. What factors are influencing ability in foreign language acquisition? How can a foreign language be acquired fast? And some similar questions about child versus adult language acquisition have been answered by experts in their researches about critical age language learning.
A number of years ago, language teachers and researchers believed in a critical period for language learning (Scovel, 1988). That period was said to end with brain lateralization (early theorists posited age five as the time of lateralization; the theory was later amended to suggest that this occurs during the teenage years).
Brain lateralization refers to the brain’s finalizing the location of the functions that will be accomplished in either the right or left hemisphere – or cross-laterally. Before lateralization, functions can be picked up by the other hemisphere, e.g. speech, which is generally a left-hemisphere function, can be taken over by the right hemisphere when the left is damaged in a young child. After lateralization, this cannot happen. Lateralization is also considered to be responsible for the finalization of the range of sounds that a person can hear or learn and an explanation for why children generally acquire foreign languages without an accent and most adults have a moderate to severe accent when they speak.
Children have also been said to have a Language Acquisition Device (LAD), or “black box,” in their heads (Chomsky, 1998). This LAD is envisioned as an unseen, uncharted part(s) of the brain (or perhaps just a manner of synaptic functioning) that allows children to acquire the structure and words of a language without conscious effort. After childhood, the LAD seems to cease functioning, although the authors have heard of some instances of adults reporting LAD-type activity and at least one of us has experienced it personally as an older adult.
The fact is that in childhood language acquisition, whether a native language or a foreign language, is closely associated with a developing mind (Golinkoff and Hirsh-Pasek, 2000), whereas adult acquisition of language is associated with a developed mind.
Contrary to these earlier suggestions, the role of age in language acquisition is a very disputed aspect of language learning theory. Some adults have been able to do everything a child does – pronouncewords with a native accent, learn language in context, and the like (Birdsong, 1999; Leaver, 2003a). Moreover, a cognitive advantage has been found for adults – knowing one language and its lexicogrammatical system can sometimes create impediments through its influence on a learner’s expectations of how another language will work, but a good grasp of the systems behind one’s native language can also provide the learner with basic linguistic categories that are useful in learning a second language. Often, too, the learning is faster because of this cognitive advantage (Schleppegrell, 1987).
Betty Lou Leaver et al. (2005). Achieving Success in Second Language Acquisition. New York : Cambridge University Press

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lagu anak said...

Thank's for sharing

wahyu said...

cool posting, nice sharing.TQ :)

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