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Yalda Ahmadvand.  Aging is an unavoidable fact of human nature  Decline in physical abilities  The effect of age on learning new skills  Decline of.

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Presentation on theme: "Yalda Ahmadvand.  Aging is an unavoidable fact of human nature  Decline in physical abilities  The effect of age on learning new skills  Decline of."— Presentation transcript:

1 Yalda Ahmadvand

2  Aging is an unavoidable fact of human nature  Decline in physical abilities  The effect of age on learning new skills  Decline of abilities in second language learning, based on different presupposition  Younger language learners and success  Relationship between age of acquisition & eventual achievement (Brown, 2007)

3  Lenneberg’s Hypothesis (1967)  Human’s cognitive structure  He cited the CPH (Penfield & Roberts,1959)  Difficulty of acquiring our first language after puberty, based on neuropsychological factors.  Age & success in second language learning  Younger learners vs. Older learners  Relationship between age & success in second language, linked to CPH

4  Biologically determined period of life  A period of time between birth & the age of puberty  Pronunciation vs. writing skills  It’s also known as Sensitive period hypothesis  Second language learners & level of competence in TL  Fossilized pronunciation

5  Introduced by Selinker (1972)  Most adult second language learners never achieve native-like proficiency in the TL  Their pronunciation continues to interfere with their ability to communicate effectively  Despite years of language learning and experience with English  They may seem less fluent or less professional  Crucial issue: Fossilized accent might linger

6  Age  Native language  Length of time using English  Social pressure  Innate ability  Feedback on pronunciation  Attain the original identity

7  Used as a simple & direct measure of exposure to opportunities to learn the language  Immigrants who live in the country for longer period of time:  Higher level of overall proficiency in English  Or in some aspects of English  Higher frequency of using English than people who have been in the country for shorter period of time  Age at immigration associated with English proficiency in adulthood

8  The age of arrival to Canada  Amount and type of exposure to Community  Importance of keeping their Iranian identity  Describe Iranian immigrants families

9  A multi-ethnic land (Kurd,Fars,Gilac,Turk, and Armanian)  Reasons for immigration  The USA, Canada, Australia, & Western Europe

10  Iranian minority, fastest growing immigrants categories  Sociolinguistics consequence  Prevent them from mixing with Canadian society, & communicating with Canadians  Community of Iranian Immigrant Women  Use of mother tongue, prevent from noticing their accent

11  Existence of several hundreds mussels for articulation of human speech (Throat, Larynx, Mouth, Lips, Tongue,..)  Remarkable degree of muscular control  Evidence: After the age of puberty

12  The role of age and identity in learning a second language  And improving accent or pronunciation  Investigate why some older Iranian women in Canada cannot lose their accents  What exposure they have

13  Thirty female native Iranian Women  Arrived between 30-40 years old  At the time of testing ranges from 40-60  Length of residence is at least 8 years  Why Farsi, and Iranian?  Education  First exposure to English  Four MA, Ten college in Canada

14  Tested individually, single1 hour session  Diary about the strategies they used to improve their English learning  Noted about their experiences, insights, disappointments, and frustrations

15  Start : Language background questionnaire  Evaluate use of Farsi & English  Motivation to use English  How long they have lived in Canada?  How old they were?  Their social role (Work, study, Home)  Accent awareness, did something to improve?  Produced sentences to be rated for foreign accent, (recorded)

16  Five native English speakers  Tested for normal hearing  All experts in SLA  Trained before starting the procedure

17  Repeated 19 English sentences (twice)  Six sets of tongue twisters  Examine the /θ/, /ð/, /s/, /v/, and /w/  Rating ranges between “very strong `accent”(1), to “no accent” (9)  Voices were recorded  Mean based on: 150 judgments (6 sentences, 5 listeners,5 duplicate judgments)  * interrater reliability was 84.2% (agreement =16/19 items)

18  The questionnaire (adapted from ethno linguistic questionnaire by Wharry,1993)  Contains 24 items  Translated to Farsi

19  Effect of age of arrival & length of residency in Canada in having a foreign accent:  Later the Iranian women had arrived in Canada, fewer years they have lived here  They have stronger foreign accent  This rating didn’t increase sharply  Those participants with an accent close to native accent came to Canada at younger age, or exposed to the language at younger age.


21  The findings presented in figure 1 & 2 suggest:  The female Iranians’ degree of foreign accent did not increase sharply if they lived in Canada for shorter period of time  Or they arrived in Canada at older ages  There is not strong correlation between the first exposure to the language and degree of foreign accent


23  The findings show:  The more exposure they have to English speaking community (work, study), less noticeable accents they have.  One exception  Speakers with more native-like accent find it less difficult to communicate in English compare to those with stronger accent  The correlation between difficulty communicating is negatively related to foreign accent rating


25  Some problematic sounds for Iranians who want to learn English:  /θ/, /ð/, /s/, /v/, and /w/  Do not exist in Farsi  Remarkable degree of muscular control is required to achieve native like proficiency  It’s hard to achieve native like proficiency:  If these muscles are not adapted to articulate specific sounds until certain age, (age of puberty)

26  According to the questionnaire & diaries:  Twenty four of the participants were aware of their accents  Nineteen thought it’s important to improve their accents:  Gain confidence  Eliminate career barriers  Improve their professional image

27  Some didn’t want to lose their accents:  Unwillingness to assume another identity  Lack of confidence  Rejection of native like speech  “Might deceive people about their background and identity”  “Not telling the truth about herself”  “People perceive different things in terms of cultural & behavioral expectations”

28  Some thought they need to improve their accents because:  To be accepted in the target language society  Find better jobs  Accent prevents them from taken seriously  Face biases, and challenges  Suffer lost opportunities in a society  Native speakers fail to concentrate on the message

29  Whether CPH exist, age should be considered as an important factor  Two outcomes of this study:  First, the participants’ strength of foreign accent in English grew stronger as their age of arrivals in Canada increased  Second, if they have more exposure to the language (work, study), they have less noticeable accents compare to those who stayed at home

30  There are several factors that influence Second language learning:  Age as a key factor in language acquisition  Motivation  Attitude and personality  Dominance of the first language

31  Regarding the critical age for acquisition, acquiring native like pronunciation is achievable until the age of puberty  As Selinger suggests there might be multiple critical/sensitive period for different aspects of language  The period in which acquiring native accent is easier, seems to end sooner than the period leading to the acquisition of grammar

32  There is a correlation between age and the ability to learn a new language  Adults who want to learn a new language, but don’t have enough knowledge about their second language, seem to fall back easier to their first language  Then no progress in the second language

33  The way the participants learned English in school prior to their arrival to Canada is not the efficient way to learn a new language  Krashen mentions the importance of participation in “meaningful interactions in the target language” to be able to acquire a new language.

34  Ones who work or study in Canada have less noticeable accent compare to those who stayed at home as a housewife  Learning a language to able to function at work/school is most likely an instrumental motivation  It also can be at least partly an integrative motivator  All participants have their personal interest to become integrated in to the new culture and the new way of living.

35  All participants reported that they try to improve their ability to communicate in the new language  Being a housewife might involve fewer opportunities to participate in a meaningful interactions in target language.  Can not conclude being a housewife leads to be less motivated in learning a new language.

36  Flexibility of personality  Self esteem, and capability to handle culture change  *All the participants in this study put an effort to assimilate into a new culture, and learn a new language  They didn’t find it difficult to adjust to a new culture  Assume they all have positive attitude towards integrating in to the new culture

37  Some sound are difficult to learn depending on the learner’s nationality  Similarity of L1 sounds to L2 sounds make it more difficult to learn a new sound  At older ages L1 can be more dominating language compared to L2  Phonetic ability seems to fossilized earlier than the other linguistics skills*

38  According to the questionnaire:  All participants in this study preserved their first language by using it frequently:  When meeting friends and relatives  Reading Persian books and magazines  Visiting their home country

39  Pronunciation doesn’t receive enough academic attention as other aspects of SLA  It’s a great concern to many second language learners in Canada  Derwing(2003) found out 95% of immigrants would choose to speak like native speakers(if they could)  Foreign accent discrimination  Fossilization, natural & normal stage for many learners  Michael Long(2003) suggests stabilization instead of fossilization  It leaves open the possibility of change and improvements

40  Second language learners seem inflexible to necessary changes  Being successful entails:  Preparing learners to change  Encouraging them to make an actual effort to do so  Carefully analyzing their situation & resources

41  The crucial element in employing a general strategy for dealing with fossilized accent is getting them prepared to make the considerable changes  Inform them how pronunciation, or more specifically intelligibility can be improved by techniques aimed at changing those other behaviors

42  Consider that speakers should have acceptable pronunciation  People should understand what they say  Speakers’ English is pleasant to listen to (comfortably intelligible)  Teachers should be well-trained  Provide precise feedback on segmentals and suprasegmentals problem  Suprasegmentals aspects of pronunciation are important to intelligibility

43  Ensure to correct prosodic errors beside individual words  Focus on errors which have more effect on intelligibility (ex: sentence stress)  Hahn(2004) declares, sentence stress has significant effect on comprehensibility and intelligibility

44  Highlighting elements:  sounds, syllables, stress, and intonation  Encourage them to use intelligible pronunciation outside the classroom  Creating a stronger link between pronunciation and communication  Bringing pronunciation to a level of intelligibility  Learner’s awareness of his/her potential for making their language not only easier to understand, but more effective

45  This study investigated the correlation between age & accent fossilization  The other factors that can cause accent fossilization  How to improve fossilized accent  By analyzing the participants background information I realized:  Although age is a very important factor in SLA, there are other factors that can influence it

46  Younger learners are probably more open to learn languages  But adults commitment to work and study in the new country is a strong motivator:  To engage in activities that promote the progress of the language acquisition  Finally, it is concluded that mastering a correct English accent & pronunciation in a second language is a skill that takes an unknown amount of time to obtain.

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