The concept of a critical period in language acquisition is a central tenet of many contemporary theories of language development; its first prominent proponent was linguist and neurologist Eric Lenneberg in the late 1960s. Lenneberg conceived of it as a biological structural limitation on the possibility of learning a first language (L1) outside a narrow window of developmental opportunity. Critical periods in learning are well known from studies of animal learning; for example, in some sparrow species exposure during a specific window of time is required for them to develop normal songs. In applying the concept to humans, the idea is that without exposure to language input during a specific period, language either will not be learned at all or will be learned imperfectly.

Another way ...

  • Loading...
locked icon

Sign in to access this content

Get a 30 day FREE TRIAL

  • Watch videos from a variety of sources bringing classroom topics to life
  • Read modern, diverse business cases
  • Explore hundreds of books and reference titles