Individual Differences in Adult L1 Attainment

James A. Street

In: Encyclopedia of Language Development

Individual Differences in Adult L1 Attainment

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  • It is widely recognized that there are considerable individual differences (IDs) in the rate and pattern of child language acquisition and that variation is related cognitive variables, such as nonverbal IQ and phonological working memory, as well as experiential variables, such as social class, with children from low socioeconomic status (SES) backgrounds lagging behind those from higher SES backgrounds. However, the general assumption is that these differences are transitional and that language development has the same end point, with all adult native speakers converging on the same mental grammar. Evidence of individual variation in adult L1 attainment, which is related to cognitive and experiential variables and which cannot be adequately explained by appeal to nonlinguistic performance factors or differences in processing strategy, therefore, has important ...

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