By Birgit Harley
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Extra resources for Age in second language acquisition
His recommendations for a "direct method" of teaching to young children are also based on the experience of his own children and informal observations of immigrants in natural settings (Penfield & Roberts, 1959:240, 254). Here too, it seems, we must recognize that an inferential leap is made in the assumption that a natural L2 learning environment can be recreated in a classroom of students having the same mother tongue, when they are exposed to only one native speaker of the L2 (the teacher). It is, however, in keeping with a Nature-oriented perspective on language acquisition to discount the possible effects of environmental factors.
Schumann (1975), for example, examines a number of affective variables such as culture shock, instrumental and integrative motivation, empathy, and ego-permeability, and concludes that such variables "may be as important as or even more important than neurological maturation in accounting for difficulties in adult second language learning" (Schumann, 1975:230). According to this argument: "in children, the initiating factors are generally favourably tuned or at least sufficiently neutral so that when exposed to the target language, the child's cognitive processes will function to produce language learning.
Page 1 PART I THE AGE ISSUE Page 3 1 Theoretical Perspectives The Nature-Nurture Continuum In the broader context of the study of human development, theoretical interpretations of the relationship between age and L2 learning may be viewed as scattered at various points along a Nature-Nurture/Rationalist-Empiricist continuum. Such interpretations vary from an emphasis on innately determined neurological maturation at one end of the scale to a focus on environmental factors such as language input and amount of exposure to the L2 on the other.
Age in second language acquisition by Birgit Harley