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English as a Second Language at a Very Early Age - Literature review Example

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This paper looks at the much-debated topic or as some would indicate “myth” that a child who starts learning English as a second language at a very early age has the capacity to do better than the child who starts later. The need to learn a second language is important in a number of contexts…
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English as a Second Language at a Very Early Age
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Download file to see previous pages According to Grant (1995), a second language refers to the chronology of language acquisition. According to Cameron (2002, p. 13), the critical period hypothesis is the name given to the perspective that it is particularly effective to learn a second language before puberty. The reasons given include the fact that their brains still have the ability to use the mechanisms that allowed them to acquire their first language. The hypothesis further holds that older learners learn the language differently after they have passed that stage, in particular, the accent and so they can never achieve the same proficiency levels attained by younger children. This is a very strong statement and should not be taken as factual. Adults are just as or more capable than young learners. Circumstances alter cases and people are motivated by their needs. Children may be able to gain the accent quickly when they are in preschool and so they are not necessarily more enthusiastic but are just learning pronunciation and therefore appear to do better than older children and adults. It is essentially similar to learning a first language and so it is more applicable to bilingual children who learn two languages at the same time. In which case, they speak exactly like the natives. However, adults can gain the accent just as well in the same way that they speak English with an American or a British accent. There are so many variants of English in terms of accent, even the Britons do not all speak the same. So while it may be different for other languages like French and Spanish it is not quite the same for English. Cameron (2002, p. 13) points out that when the goal is to just simply to communicate, the benefits of starting to learn early are less obvious. According to Grant (1995) Longitudinal studies that were carried out by Collier (1989) indicates that it would take somewhere between five to ten years for persons learning a second language to speak as close as possible to native speakers. ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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