By Birgit Harley
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Extra resources for Age in second language acquisition
In contrast, child learners may receive more simplified input than older learners, but because they do not work as hard at negotiating, the input they receive may miss the mark and be either too simple to promote further L2 development, or, even though simplified, too difficult for the child to understand. The difference between children and older learners in the input they invite, Scarcella & Higa argue, provides a rationale for more rapid progress by older learners in early L2 acquisition. The above hypotheses predict that the nature of the input will be an important factor in determining what aspects of the L2 are acquired by older or younger learners, and how rapidly their L2 acquisition proceeds in the early stages.
Perhaps most Nurture-oriented of all is the view that time, or amount of exposure to the L2, is an important determinant of success in L2 acquisition. g. 1969) has argued on the basis of measured L2 achievement in formal educational settings that time is the most important variable in the acquisition of an L2. Given that young learners will over the course of their school career have more time to acquire the L2, he suggests that an early start to L2 education is desirable. In his view, "the amount of competence one achieves is largely a matter of time spent in learning, rather than the actual age of starting" (Carroll, 1969:63).
Cummins (1983a) hypothesizes that relative cognitive maturity may be an advantage for acquiring only certain aspects of L2 proficiency. He conceptualizes language proficiency along two continua, one of which relates to the range of contextual support available for expressing or receiving meaning, and the other to the degree of active cognitive involvement in a task or activity. The extremes of the first continuum are described as context-embedded and context-reduced communication. They are differentiated as follows (Cummins, 1983a: 120): "...
Age in second language acquisition by Birgit Harley