The Second Language Acquisition: Age Significance


It is a boundless conviction that the acquisition of a second language is a lot simpler for kids compared to grown-ups. It is said that the younger the learner, the faster the language acquisition will be. The equivalent applies for the assumption that a grown-up student of an unknown dialect can’t arrive at native-like competence, regardless of the amount of time the acquisition of the language will take, while a kid for sure can obtain an ideal language without even the trace of a foreign accent. Besides, there is a typical idea that the age of beginning of the second language acquisition assumes a role in its further development. In fact, the second language acquisition can be a baffling and exceptionally intense experience for grown-ups, though it is by all accounts a simple and quick continuing cycle for youngsters or youths.


A potential explanation to these convictions might be found in the Critical Period Hypothesis, which expresses that the age is a main consideration for second language acquisition and there exists a stretch of time, where the attainment of a language functions best (Rahman et al., 2017, p. 224). In this unique situation, the paper initially presents and makes remarks on the theory, in which, the two potential interpretations for the theory, specifically the Maturational State and the exercised Hypothesis are conducted with respect to age impact role in acquisition of an additional language. The maturational state theory is upheld by initial acquisition rate and ultimate degree of accomplishment among students of various age, just as second language acquisition limit decrease in a basic and a complex period. Finally, various assumptions are made as for the age outcome role and clarifications of age role in acquiring a second language.

Critical Period Theory

Lenneberg, one of the pioneers of the researches in the discipline acquiring a second language, communicates the possibility there is a certain period of learning language which ought to be considered by instructors and teachers (Dekeyser, 2018, p. 916). This period is referred to as the Critical Period Hypothesis which alludes to a specific season of human existence that permits individuals to obtain a language in a regular habitat quicker and simpler with no external intercession and formal guidance. This hypothesis holds that, language must be obtained during a specific timeframe, which is referred to as the perilous moment. As per the basic speculation, people are inclined to obtain language in the initial ages of life, and that at the beginning of puberty this inclination is lost.

Lenneberg surmises that during the childhood and adolescence the mind’s right half of the hemisphere partakes during the process of language learning. According to him, initially the two sides of the hemispheres partake in the process and this is called lateralization. Lateralization is an interaction when opposite sides of the mind create unique function. During growth, the right half of the brain loses its language function and it passes absolutely to lest side. Language acquisition becomes difficult when this is accomplished. Lateralization is generally finished by the period of puberty (Saville-Troike and Barto, 2016, p. 57). So, after puberty, language acquisition becomes difficult. Two interpretations can be provided for the theory in regards to age impact role in second language acquisition, which is, the Exercised and the Maturational State Hypothesis.

The Exercise Hypothesis holds that individuals have a principal limit with regards to acquiring dialects early in someone’s life. However, if it is not practiced during the early period, the limit will vanish or decay with development. Whenever worked out, further language education dimensions will remain flawless throughout life. The Maturational State Hypothesis, then again, holds that people have a prevalent limit with regards to acquiring dialects, and this limit disappears or decreases with growth (Saville-Troike and Barto, 2016, p 89). The two understandings for Critical Period Hypothesis offer various ramifications for the part that age plays a attaining a second language.

According to the Exercised Hypothesis prediction, that youngsters will be better than grown-ups in obtaining a first language, if students are not presented to an initial language through childhood, they won’t obtain second language completely sometime in the future. Nonetheless, as long as they have learned a first language during the years as children, the capacity to obtain second language will stay unblemished and can be used at whatever stage in life (Saville-Troike and Barto, 2016, p. 112). On such a theory, second language acquisition ought to be comparable in kids and adults, consequently, in second language acquisition won’t be impacted by age.

In illogicality, the Maturational State theory guarantees an extraordinary thing about the maturational condition of the kid’s minds which makes youngsters exclusively proficient at acquiring any dialect, first just as acquiring a second language. As time goes by, the exceptional maturational state won’t keep unblemished and the capabilities to obtain second language will deteriorate with growth, whether or not practiced or not. On such a theory, age effects can be seen in acquisition of an additional language.

The two conflicting ramifications for age impact role in acquisition of an additional language are settled when observing the initial acquisition rate and ultimate degree of acquisition in the student of various age, as well as attainment limit loss in a complex and a perilous period proved with examinations on age-related decrease in obtaining for various areas of semantic domains. Original rate of acquiring a second language fluctuates from students of various age. Grown-ups and grown-up children are better than youngsters in degree of acquisition of second language (Saville-Troike and Barto, 2016). This may be on the grounds that the input the adults and older learners hear and read is more understandable due to their incredible experience and information on everything going on around them when contrasted with the more younger students.This implies that they can take an interest in any discussion sooner than the younger students and by this they may count on first language syntactic principles which are enhanced with second language jargon.

However, due to the advancement of language learning cerebral arrangement of the younger learners when contrasted with grown-ups and more seasoned learners, after at some point the younger learners consistently outperform them in the grammar, and pronunciation differences. Quite diverse from the introductory rate of attainment, definitive degree of attainment, characterized as the phase at which the student accomplishes native-speaker capability favors youngsters, rather than grown-ups ((Rahman et al., 2017, p. 239) This can be on the grounds that for grown-ups and more established students of the second language, are now further along in their cognitive development and have already acquired exceptionally complex designs in their local dialects and accordingly, arriving at more elevated levels of accomplishment in both articulation and grammar of a second language can proof to be troublesome. Therefore most grown-up language students can’t acquire accent–free discourse in a second language. Accordingly, grown-ups beat youngsters in the short term.

Also, a child’s learning interaction is steered by a Language-Specific Cognitive framework, generally comparable to Universal Grammar, whereas generally, grown-ups will approach the education duty by using a Problem-Solving Cognitive framework which goes into rivalry with the Language-Specific Cognitive framework. With the understanding that the Problem-Solving Cognitive framework is an essentially deficient apparatus to handle semantic constructions past a specific rudimentary level, if Universal Grammar stays flawless, because of insuppressible exchange of the Problem-Solving Cognitive framework onto language obtaining information grown-ups for the mostly fail to arrive at Universal Grammar in acquiring a second language. In this manner, age impacts are seen during the process of second language acquisition.

There are likewise a sensitive and a critical period contrasts in capacities of second language acquisition. A critical period is at first narrow and strict period, during which the conduct is short and unexpected, to be impenetrable to environmental impacts. Mostly, such period has strongly characterized upper and lower limits and varies starting with one useful framework then onto the next, with explicit level of unexpectedness in the progressions of affectability (Rahman et al., 2017, p. 242). A sensitive period, is a period of increased responsiveness to particular sorts of natural upgrades, limited on the two sides by conditions of lesser approachability, with the identification of progressive variations in affectability.

Therefore, age-associated decrease in second language acquisition capacity is conforming particular in the sensitive and the critical period. This qualification lays on whether such capacity decays unexpectedly or continuously within the given period. Such qualification is identified with the differentiation between a combined and a one-time calamitous misfortune. A one-time disastrous misfortune typically appears to unexpectedly vanish or decrease the language abilities (for example syntactic, morphological and phonetic abilities, among others), a cumulative misfortune implies the misfortune in obtaining capacities vanishes or decreases with steady cycle. With the recognizable proof of finishing unexpectedly in basic period, such misfortune in second language acquisition capacity is the calamitous one-time occasion, in sensitive period because of gradual identification the misfortune in acquisition capacity is a cumulative interaction.

Second language acquisition, accordingly, either observed from the initial rate of acquisition or decisive accomplishment will depend to a limited extent on the commencing age of learning. Loss of attainment capability in the sensitive and the critical period with verifications of age-related decay of acquisition limit in morphological, phonological, and syntactic extents similarly demonstrate the responsiveness of the Maturational State Hypothesis, which is, attaining a second language and how it will be affected by age. Age-related decrease in second language attainment limit can be proven from phonologic, morphologic and syntactical areas (Saville-Troike and Barto, 2016, p. 197). From past investigations, students’ ability for gaining the phonology, morphological area, and punctuation of a subsequent language decreases with age.


In conclusion, clearly, seen from eventual level of accomplishment and preliminary rate of attainment, the role of age effect in acquiring a second language can be experiential, implying that, older students have rate benefit over younger ones, but in the final phase of accomplishment the younger students outperform the older students. This is more averse to occur in instructional than in naturalistic settings in light of the fact that the basic measure of exposure is typically not accessible in the former. Children might be bound to acquire a native grammatical competence. The basic period for language may be later than for articulation. Some grown-up students, nonetheless, may prevail with regards to acquiring native degrees of grammatical exactness in discourse and composing and surprisingly full semantic competence.


Dekeyser, R., 2018. The critical period hypothesis: A diamond in the rough. Bilingualism: Language and Cognition, 21(5), pp.915-916.

Rahman, M., Pandian, A., Karim, A. and Shahed, F., 2017. Effect of Age in Second Language Acquisition: A Critical Review from the Perspective of Critical Period Hypothesis and Ultimate Attainment. International Journal of English Linguistics, 7(5), pp.220-246.

Saville-Troike, M. and Barto, K., 2016. Introducing second language acquisition. Cambridge University Press.

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