Second Language Acquisition in Early Childhood Research Paper by Research Group

Second Language Acquisition in Early Childhood
Explores whether learning English as a second language prior to age six results in greater English proficiency.
# 26723 | 4,318 words | 18 sources | APA | 2002 | US

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Based on a substantial amount of empirical research conducted on second language acquisition, it has been theorized that learners are best able to achieve the critical skill of learning a second language at some point fairly early in their maturational development. This claim is known as the "critical period hypothesis," which postulates that there is some maturational period for language learning that maximizes one's degree of proficiency in the language beyond that of other maturational periods. This study examines whether the critical period during which children are best able to learn English as a second language is before six years or age. To this end, the study compares the English proficiency levels of two groups of eighth grade ESL learners, a group that had begun to learn English before they were six years of age and a group that had begun to learn English after six years of age. Because the nature of language required in school is complex, a fairly complex assessment was made of English proficiency, namely English proficiency was assessed using the Quick-Start in English Written Language Assessment (QSE). The study shows that there are higher proficiency levels for those children who learned English before six than for those children who learned it after six years of age.

Table of Contents:
The Problem
Problem Statement
Null Hypothesis
Review of the Literature
Critical Period Hypothesis and the Best Age of Second
Language Learning: The Pertinent Research
Subjects, Materials and Methods
The Setting
Methods Used To Obtain Permission To Conduct Research
Data Gathering Methods
The Findings
Conclusions and Recommendations
Appendix A
Letter Mailed From Researcher to Supervisor
Appendix B
Letter From Supervisor
Appendix C
Letter Sent to Mark's Middle School Principal
Appendix D
Letter received from Mark's Middle School Principal

From the Paper:

"While many claims have been made as to what precise age/age group constitutes the critical period, some recent research conducted in Germany, Doll (1996) stated that this critical period takes place during kindergarten or first grade. In other words, the period occurs sometime before the child is six years of age. What is interesting about Doll's findings is that they are in conflict with the majority of the earlier research in the area; this research tending to show that the critical period for effectively learning a second language is between the ages of eight and ten years (Bialystok, 1997)."

Cite this Research Paper:

APA Format

Second Language Acquisition in Early Childhood (2003, May 13) Retrieved December 10, 2023, from

MLA Format

"Second Language Acquisition in Early Childhood" 13 May 2003. Web. 10 December. 2023. <>