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PSY 369: Psycholinguistics Second Language Acquisition: Critical Periods & Bilingualism.

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Presentation on theme: "PSY 369: Psycholinguistics Second Language Acquisition: Critical Periods & Bilingualism."— Presentation transcript:

1 PSY 369: Psycholinguistics Second Language Acquisition: Critical Periods & Bilingualism

2 Critical (sensitive) periods Certain behavior is developed more quickly within a critical period than outside of it. This period is biologically determined. Examples: Imprinting in ducks (Lorenz, ; Hess, 1973) Ducklings will follow the first moving thing they see Only happens if they see something moving within the first few hours (after 32 hours it won’t happen) of hatching Binocular cells in humans Cells in visual system that respond only to input from both eyes. If these cells don’t get input from both eyes within first year of life, they don’t develop

3 Critical (sensitive) periods Some environmental input is necessary for normal development, but biology determines when the organism is responsive to that input. That “when” is the critical period Certain behavior is developed more quickly within a critical period than outside of it. This period is biologically determined.

4 Critical period for language It assumes that language acquisition must occur before the end of the critical period Estimates range from 5 years up to onset of puberty Lenneberg (1967) proposed that there is a critical period for human language

5 Evidence for critical period for language Feral and Isolated Children Children raised in the wild or with reduced exposure to human language What is the effect of this lack of exposure on language acquisition? Two classic cases Victor, the Wild Boy of Aveyron Genie

6 VictorVictor, The Wild Boy of Aveyron Found in 1800 near the outskirts of Aveyron, France Estimated to be about 7-years-old Considered by some to be the first documented case of autism Neither spoke or responded to speech Taken to and studied by Dr. Jean-Marc-Gaspard Itard, and educator of deaf-mute and retarded children Never learned to speak and his receptive language ability was limited to a few simple commands. Described by Itard as “an almost normal boy who could not speak”

7 Genie Found in Arcadia, California in 1970, was not exposed to human language until age Raised in isolation a situation of extreme abuse Genie could barely walk and could not talk when found Dr. Susan Curtiss made great efforts to teach her language, and she did learn how to talk, but her grammar never fully developed. Only capable of producing telegraphic utterances (e.g. Mike paint or Applesauce buy store) Used few closed-class morphemes and function words Speech sounded like that of a 2-year-old

8 Genie By age of 17 (after 4 years of extensive training) Vocabulary of a 5 year old Poor syntax (telegraphic speech mostly, few grammatical words) Examples Mama wash hair in sink At school scratch face I want Curtiss play piano Like go ride yellow school bus Father take piece wood. Hit. Cry. No inflectional morphology Showed a right hemisphere advantage for speech (in contrast to the usual left hemisphere advantage)

9 What Do These Cases Tell Us? Suggestive of the position that there is a critical period for first language learning If child is not exposed to language during early childhood (prior to the age of 6 or 7), then the ability to learn syntax will be impaired while other abilities are less strongly affected Not uncontroversial: Victor and Genie and children like them were deprived in many ways other than not being exposed to language Genie stopped talking after age 30 and was institutionalized shortly afterward (Rymer, 1993)

10 Second language learning Learning a new language What if we already know one language, but want to learn another? Adults learning another language typically have a persistent foreign accent – perhaps a critical period for phonology (Flege & Hillenbrand, 1984) Adults typically do better initially at learning a new language compared to kids, but kids typically do better over the long term (Krashen, Long, & Scarcella, 1982)

11 Second language learning Johnson and Newport (1989) Native Chinese/Korean speakers moving to US Task: Listen to sentences and judge whether grammatically correct Test score Age of arrival 217 R = -.87 Test score Age of arrival 1740 R = -.16

12 Second language learning Johnson and Newport (1989) Native Chinese/Korean speakers moving to US Task: Listen to sentences and judge whether grammatically correct Concluded that around the age of 16 something happens Different factors operate on language acquisition before and after the age of 16 Birdsong and Molis (2001) Replicated the Johnson and Newport study in Spanish/English speakers. Did not find a discontinuity around the age of 16

13 Effects of the Critical Period Learning a language: Under 7 years: perfect command of the language possible Ages 8- c.15: Perfect command less possible progressively Age 15-: Imperfect command possible But these claims are far from universally accepted

14 Bilinguals & Polyglots Many people speak more than one language Tucker (1999) - multilinguals outnumber monolinguals Tucker (1999) What is the impact of knowing/using more than one language? Factors affecting second language acquisition? What does the lexicon look like? Interesting effects in bilinguals Interference Code switching Cognitive advantages

15 Second language acquisition Contexts of childhood bilingualism Simultaneous Both languages are acquired at the same time Vocabulary growth of bilinguals is similar to that of monolinguals Some aspects of acquisition may be slowed, but by age of 4 typically caught up Doesn’t seem to matter whether languages are “related” or not (e.g., English - French versus English Japanese) Can achieve “fluency” in both languages Sequential acquisition The second language is learned after a first language When the second language (L2) is acquired is important Early versus late learning (e.g., see the Johnson and Newport study)

16 Second language acquisition Frequency of usage of both languages How often and in what contexts do you use the two languages “Use it or lose it” - language attrition Mode of acquisition Native bilingualism - growing up in a two language environment Immersion - schooling provided in a non-native language Submersion - one learner surrounded by non-native speakers Language dominance effects Relative fluency of L1 and L2 may impact processing

17 How do we represent linguistic information in a bilingual lexicon? Probably depends on many of the factors just discussed Let’s look at some models and research focusing on the situation where L1 is dominant relative to L2 Bilingual Representations

18 Models of the bilingual lexicons L1=First Language L2=Second Language Potter et al (1984): Separate Stores Models – separate lexicons for each language L1L2 CONCEPTS Word Association Model L1L2 CONCEPTS Concept Mediation Model

19 Models of the bilingual lexicons L1=First Language L2=Second Language Paivio, Clark, & Lambert (1988): Common Stores Models – words from both languages in same store L1 & L2 CONCEPTS

20 Revised Hierarchical Model L1 L2 concepts lexical links conceptual links conceptual links Kroll & Stewart (1994) Proposed that the fluency of L2 needs to be considered in the processing model The results are mixed, supporting more complex models May be different in different bilinguals depending on things like age of acquisition, relative proficiency, etc.

21 Interesting effects in bilinguals Interference Code switching Cognitive advantages

22 Interference Does knowing two languages lead to interference? When found, interference is at multiple levels Phonological - least amount of interference Lexical - mixing words from different languages Initially, appear to use a one word per thing strategy But as they realize there that they’re speaking two language, then they’ll use words from both languages simultaneously Syntactic Until year two, may use only one syntactic system which is common to both languages Then a brief period with two sets of lexical items, but still a common syntax Finally, two lexicons and two sets of syntax Interesting effects in bilinguals

23 Determine who or what is the one performing the action. The waitress pushes the cowboys. The telephones pushes the cowboys. Kisses the table the apple. The baskets the teacher kicks. As a native speaker of English we can use many cues: Word order Animacy Verb agreement Not all languages use the same cues to the same extent e.g., German doesn’t rely as much on word order, but relies more on agreement processes

24 Interesting effects in bilinguals Determine who or what is the one performing the action. The waitress pushes the cowboys. The telephones pushes the cowboys. Kisses the table the apple. The baskets the teacher kicks. Kilborn (1989, 1994) Found that bilinguals (English as second language) typically carry over the dominant processing strategies from their native languages. This interacts with their level of fluency in the second language

25 Code switching When bilinguals substitute a word or phrase from one language with a phrase or word from another language “I want a motorcycle VERDE” Switching is systematic, not random

26 When bilinguals substitute a word or phrase from one language with a phrase or word from another language “I want a motorcycle VERDE” Code switching The Spanish adjective “verde” follows a grammatical rule that is observed by most bilingual speakers that code-switch “I want a VERDE motorcycle” Would be incorrect because language switching can occur only if the adjective is placed according to the rules of the language of the adjective In this case, the adjective is in Spanish; therefore, the adjective must follow the Spanish grammatical rule that states that the noun must precede the adjective

27 When bilinguals substitute a word or phrase from one language with a phrase or word from another language “I want a motorcycle VERDE” Code switching Generally, bilinguals take longer to read and comprehend sentences containing code-switched words May be due to a “mental switch mechanism” that determines which of the bilingual’s two mental dictionaries are “on” or “off” during language comprehension. This mental switch is responsible for selecting the appropriate mental dictionary to be employed during the comprehension of a sentence. E.g., if reading an English, a Spanish code-switched word is encountered, the mental switch must disable the English linguistic system, and enable the Spanish linguistic system.

28 When bilinguals substitute a word or phrase from one language with a phrase or word from another language “I want a motorcycle VERDE” Code switching Generally, bilinguals take longer to read and comprehend sentences containing code-switched words This time difference depends on similarity of the languages Chinese-English bilinguals take longer to recognize English code- switched words in Chinese sentences only if the English words contain initial consonant-consonant (e.g., flight) clusters, simply because the Chinese language lacks this phonotactic structure. Another current view suggests that language dominance (i.e., which language is used more frequently) plays an important role in code-switching

29 Some evidence suggest that being bilingual can have an impact on cognition outside of language Bialystok and colleagues Bilinguals are very proficient at switching between languages Bilinguals also have to be good at suppressing the contextually inappropriate language Cognitive advantages


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