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Difficulties in Basic Non-Syntactic Cognitive Processes - Essay Example

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In the paper “Difficulties in Basic Non-Syntactic Cognitive Processes,” the author examines the possibility that difficulties in basic non-syntactic cognitive processes can contribute to poor performance on grammatical tasks, particularly in case of second language learners…
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Difficulties in Basic Non-Syntactic Cognitive Processes

According to this theory, language acquisition must occur early in life if native-like mastery is to be achieved. After the critical period has passed, the age of acquisition is no longer supposed to have an effect, and native-like performance is no longer achievable. (Birdsong, 2005)
Not all L2 data conform to a strict interpretation of Critical Period Hypothesis. The age at which L2 grammatical performance begins to differ from native speakers varies widely from early childhood to late adolescence, depending on the combinations of first and second languages. ( Bialystok and Miller, 199; Mc DONALD, 2000)
Recent research has also studied the grammatical performance of native speakers under memory load. Using a grammaticality judgment task, Blackwell and Bates (1995) found native speakers were impaired in their judgment ability on sentences containing agreement violations with a low concurrent memory load and showed impairment on sentences containing omissions and word order errors at a much higher memory load.
The compressed speech did not affect the interpretation of active and subject-cleft structures, which follow the normal subject-verb-object word order, but it did impact the interpretation of passives and object-clefts which have non-canonical word order.
A.U. Knightly, Jun, and Oh (2002) found that early passive exposure to a language spoken in the home allowed people who then learned the language in adulthood to perform well in this language on phonological measures, but did not help with syntactic mastery.
The age of acquisition at which L2 learners are significantly worse than native speakers is earlier if the L1 and L2 are dissimilar than if they have more similarity. (Johnson and Newport, 189 found this age to be 7 for Chinese/English and Korean speakers.) ... Read More
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