The Critical Period

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When does a person acquire a language? Are they genetically predisposed to speaking a certain language? For a long time, there were many people who thought that the language a person acquired was dependent upon their genetics. This theory has been replaced by the Critical Period Hypothesis. The idea of this hypothesis is that there is a critical period for developing a language. Children develop their understanding of syntax when they are at a very young age. Studies have shown that the critical period ends around seventeen years of age.
If a person tries to learn a language after the Critical Period, they become a second language learner. Some people believe that this stems from an imitation account. This account states that children merely imitate the sounds and syntax of a language in order to learn it. Another account states that children come into the world with some basic knowledge of how language works. Another account states that social pragmatics, or a persons social surroundings effect language learning.
I think that all three of these accounts have a great impact; the imitation account, the social pragmatics account, and the nativism account all account for a big portion of how a child develops their language as a native speaker. Children are around native speakers of certain languages all the time. When kids are acquiring their language, and babbling they are probably imitating those around them. The social surroundings effect they type of language a child learns a great deal, whether they are learning standard english, african american vernacular english, chinese, or clingon is all dictated by their surroundings. I don't think that any one of these accounts account for all of the factors that go into a childs language learning, but when they are combined, they do a very good job explaining the ways in which a child acquires a language.

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This page contains a single entry by udstu002 published on October 23, 2011 5:01 PM.

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