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Second language ultimate attainment: Effects of maturation, exercise, and social/psychological factors

  • KENNETH HYLTENSTAM (a1)

Extract

Mayberry and Kluender (2017) offer a rich review of empirical research that contributes to the understanding of age-related effects on first and second language acquisition. Their keynote article compiles current, primarily linguistic and neurolinguistic, research on the notion of a critical period for language (CPL). The authors conclude “that the putative CPL applies to L1 learning, and that L2 effects are a consequence of this prior learning” (Mayberry & Kluender, 2017: p. 6). As they propose a clear role for CPL in L1 learning, and because their exact position on its role in L2 learning is, to my mind, not as clearly articulated, I will take the opportunity to argue the following: If a CPL exists at all, it should have identifiable implications for all kinds of language acquisition (cf. Gleitman & Newport, 1995). In the case of L2 acquisition what needs to be identified is how maturational constraints (implicated by a CPL) interact with other conditions that are at hand when the second language comes onto the scene.

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Corresponding author

Address for correspondence: Centre for Research on Bilingualism, Stockholm University, SE-106 91 Stockholmkenneth.hyltenstam@biling.su.se

References

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Abrahamsson, N. (2012). Age of onset and nativelike L2 ultimate attainment of morphosyntactic and phonetic intuition. Studies in Second Language Acquisition, 32/2, 187214.
Abrahamsson, N., & Hyltenstam, K. (2009). Age of onset and nativelikeness in a second language: listener perception versus linguistic scrutiny. Language Learning, 59/2, 249306.
Flege, J. E., Yeni-Komshian, G. H., & Liu, S. (1999). Age constraints on second-language acquisition. Journal of Memory and Language, 41/1, 78104.
Gleitman, L., & Newport, E. (1995). The invention of language by children: environmental and biological influences on the acquisition of language. In Gleitman, L. & Liberman, M. (eds.), Language: an invitation to cognitive science, Vol. 1, Second edition, pp. 124. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.
Granena, G., & Long, M. H. (2013). Age of onset, length of residence, language aptitude, and ultimate L2 attainment in three linguistic domains. Second Language Research, 29/3, 311343.
Hyltenstam, K., & Abrahamsson, N. (2003). Maturational constraints in SLA. In: Doughty, C. J. & Long, M. H., (eds.), The handbook of second language acquisition, pp. 539588. Oxford: Blackwell.
Johnson, J. S., & Newport, E. L. (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, 6099.
Long, M. (2013). Maturational constraints on child and adult SLA. In: Granena, G. & Long, M. (eds.), Sensitive periods, language aptitude, and ultimate L2 attainment, pp. 341. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.
Mayberry, R. I., & Kluender, R. (2017). Rethinking the critical period for language: New insights into an old question from American Sign Language. Bilingualism: Language and Cognition doi:10.1017/S1366728917000724

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Second language ultimate attainment: Effects of maturation, exercise, and social/psychological factors

  • KENNETH HYLTENSTAM (a1)

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