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Reexamining the Critical Period Hypothesis: A Case Study of Successful Adult SLA in a Naturalistic Environment

  • Georgette Ioup (a1), Elizabeth Boustagui (a2), Manal El Tigi (a3) and Martha Moselle (a3)
Abstract

This study concerns the ability of adults to achieve nativelike competence in second language when the acquisition context lacks formal instruction and, therefore, more closely resembles the environment for first language acquisition. The study presents the results of extensive testing of an adult who has apparently acquired native proficiency in Egyptian Arabic (EA) in an untutored setting. The goal is to determine to what extent her linguistic competence matches that of native speakers. Measures employed to assess her level of achievement are a speech production task, a grammaticality judgment task, a translation task, an anaphoric interpretation task, and an accent recognition task. Results are compared to those of native speakers as well as to those of a proficient learner of EA with extensive formal instruction. The results lead the authors to reexamine the critical period hypothesis while addressing the role of talent in adult language learning. The study concludes with an evaluation of our subject's language learning history to discover what factors differentiate her from less successful naturalistic adult acquirers.

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Copyright
Corresponding author
Address correspondence to Georgette Ioup, Department of English, University of New Orleans, New Orleans, LA 70148.
References
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Studies in Second Language Acquisition
  • ISSN: 0272-2631
  • EISSN: 1470-1545
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