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Summary of the Article.

This article is by Tim Thompson and Matt Gaddes entitled The Importance of Teaching
Pronunciations to Adult Learners. According to the Critical Period Hypothesis (CPH) there is
often a supposed connection between ease of language learning and age. The common
assumption being the younger the better and there has been considerable investigation into the
age factor in recent years by researchers from a wide range of disciplines. This article shows
that without a few areas such as authentic accents or phonetic imitation, seem to indicate that
efficiency in formal language learning increases with maturation, that is to say older students
appear to have an advantage over young learners under the age of twelve. From the article, the
researchers prove that the adult can achieve proficiency on second language in the aspect of
pronunciation regards they are given some training on pronunciation. The article shows that the
educators should help the adult student by improving their pronunciations and also the ability of
the adult student to self-monitor and correct their own pronunciations. In addition, according to
the researcher, the educators should try to motivate the students by monitoring the errors made
by the adult students whom wrongly pronounced and help them to correct it. This will lead to the
increase in the motivation of the student to use proper pronunciation when using the second
language in the future. Besides that, in the article, the researcher added that the adult students
hold advantage against the children as the adult possess advanced mental awareness. Selfmonitoring is the conscious action of listening to ones own speech in order to find errors. Selfcorrection is the process of fixing ones errors after they have occurred by repeating the word or
phrase correctly. By teaching our adult students to self-monitor and self-correct, we enable them
to make their learning more personal and hopefully more meaningful.

What is the Critical Period Hypothesis? (CPH).

Basically Critical Period Hypotheses or also famously known as CPH is a phase during
childhood when the human brain is suitable to acquire language and after that phase , it will be
difficult for the person to attain native like proficiency in the target language. The theory was
brought forward by Lenneberg's (1967 cited in McLaughlin: 1987) who hypothesized that the
acquisition of language is an innate process determined by biological factors which limit the
critical period for acquisition of a language from roughly two years of age to puberty.
Therefore, the hypotheses means that only children within the critical age period would
be able to acquire native like command of language. This is supported by the researchers done on
the adults that mostly shows that they failed to master the pronunciation of a target language
correctly and they tend to mix the accent from their first language which made them pronounce
wrongly and it goes vice-versa for the children within critical period age.

Meanwhile there are several researchers proves that adults will face difficulty in attaining
target language compared to children within critical age period , still it not impossible for the
adults to achieve proficiency in their target language. Thomas Scovel (1969), cited in Brown
(2000), spoke out strongly against the CPH. He pointed out that adults are superior learners in
areas such as literacy, vocabulary and syntax. Accent was the only advantage that children
possessed as language learners (Brown, 2000).This proves that the difference between adult and
the children will be only on the aspect of accent or to be precise, it will be on the pronunciation.

According to Rubin (1975) a good language learner monitors his own and the speech of
others. That is, he is constantly attending to how well his speech is being received and whether
his performance meets the standards he has learned. Part of his monitoring is a function of his
active participation in the learning process. He is always processing information whether or not
he is called on to perform. He can learn from his own mistakes. That means the adult students
should be exposed with pronunciation. The educators should help to monitor their pronunciation
and help to correct and mispronunciations.

On the surface we do observe these differences between young children and adults when
it comes to second language acquisition. At first glance children tend to learn a new language
better and faster than adults do. They also seem to be able to attain native-like proficiency if
given very early and constant exposure to the said language. Fundamentally this is what sparks
the idea of CPH which means that there is a certain period of time where language learning is at
its utmost peak which is before puberty. During that time second language learning is definitely
going to be successful and beyond which learners are doomed to failure. However, if we take a
closer look we could see that CPH is not always the case. There are individuals or adults who
start later in life in learning a second language but manage to achieve higher level of that
language even up to the point of being native-like. This certainly make the idea of CPH becomes
invalid. However little the figure is, if there are adults who successfully acquire a second
language when they begin learning after the age of puberty, it definitely counteracts the
legitimacy of a CPH (Birdsong, 1999; White & Genesee, 1996). In my own point of view I
strongly think that CPH is not the only reason or factor that can be used to explain the success or
the failure of acquiring a second language. I think that many other factors come into play.

Marinova-Todd (2003) found in her study that although we cannot entirely overlook the age
factor in language acquisition, its influence must be measured in unison with cognitive and
affective factors. She suggested that the way or how we learn a second language is more
substantial for L2 ultimate proficiency then the time or when we learn them.in fact, one of the
most noticeable factors that could affect language acquisition is motivation.

Nikolov &

Djigunovic (2006), suggested that for most of the L2 learners, the target language was a part of
their profession or that they have a strong integrative motivation to be proficient and to be part of
the L2 society. Other than that they also stated that complete immersion in the target language
environment by which learners are exposed to the language for a long period of time can in the
end lead to native-like proficiency. If the adult learners have really high desire and will to learn
the language and be proficient at it then I think it is not impossible for them to reach native like

What the educators could do is not to correct every single mistake that they make, but to
improve their strength even more. Finding mistakes and give them the explicit feedback is
easy, but finding their strength and motivate them to do better in their advanced field would
improve them better and that is how everyone could be developed with motivation. For
example, for adults, since they tend to have advantage on cognitive awareness, they should selfmonitor and apply error correction in their pronunciation.

As an adult, who learns second language, should set the long-term goal and do what is
suitable for them. For older people, who tend to have disadvantages than the children do, not to
make the correction on what is missing, but fulfill the missing part by something you are
suitable with. It is hard to make the changes in habit, but learning new things to fill in the
What makes the perfect teaching style is to understand the relationship between the
Critical Period Hypothesis and the motivation, because to understand the needs of the student
would lead them to improve better. The instructors cannot base on one student to make the
perfect class, and it seems impossible to make the perfect class for everyone of student in the
class, but thinking of the students and always looking for the better solution, would convey how
much effort that the instructor puts in, can motivates students.
As the conclusion, what can be changed to improve the second language learning is not
the Critical Hypothesis Period, because it is almost set before the children turn to puberty, but
motivation can be changed. Instructor who can motivate children with great teaching method
might be able to slightly affect the Critical Hypothesis Period, but motivation could sometimes
overcome the problem of the age. Yes critical period hypothesis (CPH) present in some cases, but
there is no any results to show that the adult cant learn a correct ascent of second language. As
everyone has different advantages, each age level has a different stimulus that motivates them.
Knowing those stimuli would make the best teaching style and also giving the best teaching style
would increase the bilingual students more in the future.


Birdsong, D. (ed) 1999, Second Language Acquisition and the Critical Period Hypothesis,
Erlbaum, Mahwah, New Jersey.

Brown, H. (2000). Principles of language learning and teaching. New York: Pearson Education.

Lenneberg, E. (1967) Biological foundation of language. New York: John Wiley.

Marinova-Todd, S. H. (2003). Know your grammar. Age and the Acquisition of English as a
Foreign Language. Clevedon: Multilingual Matters, 5976.

McLaughlin, B. (1987). Theories of second language learning. Chicago III: The University of
Chicago Press.

Nikolov, M., & Djigunovic, J. M. (2006). Recent research on age, second language acquisition,
and early foreign language learning. Annual review of applied linguistics, 26, 234-260.

Rubin, J. (1975). What the" good language learner" can teach us. TESOL quarterly, 41-51.

White, L., & Genesee, F. (1996). How native is near-native? The issue of ultimate attainment in
adult second language acquisition. Second language research, 12(3), 233-265.