Ortega(2013), in chapter two, debated that the acquisition of any language is closelyconnected to a particular period of time. The earlier human is explored to alanguage, the more fluent will be in that language.
In other words, it isbelieved that children can easily acquire a language before the age of puberty.Researchers and linguists call this period the critical, optimal or sensitiveperiod (Ortega ,2013). Therefore, I was eager to investigate this period oftime, which is Critical Period. There is research done by Penfield and Roberts(1959) and Lenneberg (1967) that proved the Critical-Period Hypothesis.However, there were other studies, such as the study that was done by Loup andher colleagues (1994) that disproved the CPH because Loup and her colleaguesinvestigated a British woman who learned Arabic, and she was passed thecritical period, but actually she became Native-Like in two and half years (ascited in Ortega, 2013, p.14-15). Research on the critical period is veryimportant because this topic has impacted early childhood improvement and theirlinguistic features.
To make it clear, I set out to provide evidence for thishypothesis. Hence, I investigated two articles that examined how languagedevelopment is affected once learners have passed the critical period bycomparing the articles and discussing the key findings to be used in teachingand learning strategies. The comparison of studies Currentstudies have examined the Critical-Period Hypothesis by looking at testing ageeffects on second language acquisition and the age of arrival to the UnitedStates. Utilizing the Chinese and Spanish speakers for their research showedreliability because both languages are structurally different than the Englishlanguage. Indeed, both studies used samples of second language learners whovaried in age; though, the study that was conducted by Hakuta, Bialystok, andWiley (2003) had a larger number of immigrants which was 2.
3 million immigrants.The Englishproficiency was measured against Age of Arrival and a Self-Report on English ability (Hakuta, Bialystok, and Wiley,2003). Hakuta etal (2003) used ages 15 and 20 on purpose. The age 15 was tested because it isassociated with puberty, and 20 was used to test if discontinuity was presentedafter puberty. The result of testing the critical periodshowed that there was a huge number of Chinese and Spanish speakers whosecritical period ended at age 15. However, there were many of them whosecritical period ended at age 20.
Further, after examining 15 and 20-year-olds,which means after the critical period, there is evidence that the Englishlanguage proficiency depends on how long the learners spend on learning thelanguage. Additionally, the study claimed a clear discontinuity in thehypothesis that learning at a specific age would have indicated that thediscontinuity in L2 acquisition essential to CPH is nonexistent (Hakuta,Bialystok and Wiley,2003).On theother hand, the study which was conducted by Huang (2014) investigatedspecifically if there is a significant and Age of Arrival in the United Stateseffect (AOA) on L2 grammar and speech production. Huang (2014) used variousages starting from the age of 5 to ensure that participants were learningEnglish as a second language, not both the languages Chinese and English byproviding grammar and speech tasks. The study’s results support the multiplecritical period effects which means that there are CP of some areas ofacquisition of second language end earlier than others. For example, Long 2005, Newport et al.
2001, Werker and Tees 2005 demonstrated that critical period of phonologyended before puberty (as cited in Huang. pp. 413, 2014). In addition, Huang(2014) showed that there is a specific age of learning effect for both L2speech production and grammar outcomes, and the AOA had a larger influence onspeech production than the grammar outcomes.Furthermore,these studies explored the CPH by looking into data from two perspectives: therate of acquisition and ultimate attainment. In fact, Hakuta and his colleagues(2003) agreed that there is no essential part of the Critical-Period; however,they mentioned in their study that natural language acquisition is valuable toyoung children, but it was slightly limited in older adolescents and adultsbecause they found a slow decline in the L2 acquisition. Eventually, bothstudies discussed that when the L2 learners had a higher education and adequatetime for residency and learning the language, they accomplished the native-likelanguage successfully. The reflection of studies Ilearned how long it would take to find the specific articles to make a goodconnection because CPH is a long debate among linguists and languageresearchers, and it should be redefined for second language acquisition.
Arecent study by Huang (2014) argued with the studies that have been done byPenfield and Roberts (1959) and Lenneberg (1967) which confirmed theCritical-Period Hypothesis (CPH). In fact, Hakuta et al (2003) proved thatthere is a specific age of the critical period. Criticality, a self- reportmeasure that was done by Hakuta et al (2003) could potentially lead to inaccuracieseven though they used a large sample of bilingual immigrants to make theirstudy strong. Also, the limitation of Huang (2014) study was the small number ofparticipants, and it should be verified by future studies. In fact, afterinvestigating these articles, I believe that adults can acquire the L2successfully no matter what are their ages. I am a second language learner andexploring this topic, indeed, answered many questions that I have faced since Istarted learning the language such as speech production which is related tophenology term. Importantly,as a second language teacher, being knowledgeable of the critical period ishelpful because the findings can be used in teaching and learning strategiesfor language. Thus, the teacher will be conscious of the students’ capacity toacquire the SLA.
For example, pronunciation is always the most difficult partof the second language learning; therefore, teachers should try to provideadequate materials that support the second language learners to handle theircomplexities in phonology terms because some studies done by Scovel andSingleton (1989) have debated that the phonology had the greatest impact afterpassing the CP (as cited in Huang pp, 399, 2014). Teachers should immerse thestudents in real life events of the language because adults can achievenative-like if they used the real-life situations. For instance, communicationwith native speakers can help learners of a second language to develop the accentof that language gradually.