Second Language Acquisition
Term Paper Proposal
Title Page 1
Table of Contents 2
Topic of Research 3
Research Question 3
Anticipated Findings 4
Previous Research 4
Project Description 4
Testing the Hypothesis 5
Method and Analysis 6
Time Schedule 6
Structure of Paper 7
For my final term paper, I would like to further explore and discuss the topic of native-likeness, with regards to the age of onset of acquisition of a second language. I believe this to be interesting topic, especially due to my own personal experiences with second language acquisition as an English speaking exchange student in Germany. Thus, native-likeness and age of onset of acquisition of a second language is seen to be an interesting, significant and highly relevant topic for this term paper. I aim to explore previously conducted research on the topic, finding arguments supporting and contradicting the following research question.
The objective of my term paper is to identify whether there really is an opportune and most successful age of onset of acquisition of a second language and a specific/pre-defined period in which to acquire native-like proficiency, thus the research question is:
Is there an ideal time-frame or age in which to successfully attain native-like proficiency in a second language?
I aim to explore this research question through several texts and studies, and discuss the existence and relevance of outliers to this statement, as this will further increase our understanding of whether the age of onset is applicable to achieving native-likeness.
I believe the aforementioned research question to be relevant as it is a topic that is highly important in modern society. With acquiring a second language, there are several benefits, inclusive of gaining a more profound understanding of other cultures, as well as your own, as well as increased communicative skills and abilities within different social and professional environments. By finding whether there is truly an ideal age by which to learn and acquire a second language, the aforementioned benefits could be increased further. By identifying an ideal timeframe in which second language acquisition is more likely to be native-like, there could also be an increase in success rates regarding achieving native-likeness proficiency within a second language.
I believe that, looking at previously conducted research, while there should be an ideal age of onset of acquisition and time-frame in which to acquire a second language to a native-like proficiency, there will also be outliers that suggest L2 native-likeness can be achieved at any age, perhaps dependent on the methods or processes undertaken in order to learn the target language. Through studies conducted throughout various reports and research papers, there should be enough data and information accumulated to provide a more detailed insight into the research topic.
Prior to my term paper, there have been numerous studies relating to native-likeness and L2 proficiency, as well as the age of acquisition of a second language. Within our course, regarding native-likeness and age of acquisition, we further investigated “Age of Onset and Native-likeness in a Second Language: Listener Perception Versus Linguistic Scrutiny” by Nicolas Abrahamsson and Kenneth Hyltenstam (2002-2004) which was inclusive of a large scale study of Spanish and Swedish bilinguals with various ages of onset, all of which identified themselves as potentially native-like within their second language. The aim of the study was to identify individuals who would potentially constitute the evidence necessary to reject the Critical Period Hypothesis, and focus on learners who appear to have attained native-likeness proficiency within a second language.
In addition to this study, there have also been several other studies conducted on this topic comparing early and later age of onset. Typically, studies conducted have found a strong negative correlation between L2 learners’ age of onset of acquisition and some measure of their L2 proficiency; whenever native-like behaviour has been observed, this has been associated exclusively with younger learners (Abrahamsson and Hyltenstam, 2002-2004). However, as I outline in Sources, various texts will explore various aspects and notions regarding this topic.
My term paper will give an insight into previous studies conducted regarding the relationship between native-likeness and the age of acquisition. I would like to conduct my own empirical study, however I am still unsure of possible ideas and as I came to Germany on exchange and will have since returned to Australia, I believe it would be difficult to find a suitable topic and participants for a study relevant to the topic at hand. Hence, I will most likely rely on previous empirical studies to complete my final term paper.
My hypothesis will be inclusive of the existence of an ideal age of onset, however I am unsure if it should also be inclusive of the possibility of outliers that still achieve native-likeness at an older age, thus my hypothesis will be similar to the following:
While there may be an ideal age of onset of a second language, there is also the possibility of achieving native-likeness proficiency in a second language outside this time frame.
As my paper will most likely be based exclusively on previous literature, I will test my hypothesis through the findings of a variety of different studies and research, trying to find what the most common findings were regarding the relationship between age of onset and native-likeness. While I aim to try and find this hypothesis to be true, there will most likely be some readings that found outliers in their research results, or suggest that native-likeness can be achieved at any age.
For an appropriate final paper, I will consider and utilise a variety of studies. In addition to the main study from the course (Abrahamsson and Hyltenstam, 2002-2004), some examples of research I could potentially use are:
- Age and the Rate of Foreign Language Learning by Carmen Muñoz
- This text investigates the ways in which age influences the process and the product of foreign language learning within a school setting, presenting studies that cover a wide range of topics, from phonetics to learning strategies.
- High Level Language Proficiency in Second Language and Multilingual Contexts by Kenneth Hyltenstam, Inge Bartning and Lars Fant
- This text explores the issue of high-level language proficiency through a variety of linguistic/structural, psycholinguistic/cognitive and sociolinguistic/societal perspectives, and conducts an empirical study to answer the following questions: what conditions allow learners to attain an outstanding level of proficiency in a second language, and what factors still prevent them from becoming entirely like first language speakers.
- Effects of the Age of Onset on Foreign Language Learning in School by Amelia Lambelet and Raphael Berthele
- This text explores studies investigating the effects of age on onset on foreign language in early L2 learners, and explores various theories relative the age of onset. This paper suggests that the advantages of being a younger learners is not yet confirmed.
- Age and Second Language Acquisition in Adulthood: The Learning Experiences and Perceptions of Women Immigrants by Wendy Wang
- This text investigates second-language proficiency outcomes among adult learners, and explores the ways in which adult learners of different ages experience and perceive second language acquisition.
In addition to these sources, I am still looking for other texts and studies that will provide more information and detail to my paper.
Finding reasons both supporting and contradicting my research question and hypothesis, I will compare and contrast information and data, and explore whether or not there is evidence supporting an ideal age of onset. Firstly, I will analyse the findings of previous studies, investigating their processes and studies, and take note of their main concerns and hypotheses. In addition to this, I will outline their findings, and evidence relative to my research question.
I believe the best way to complete my term paper, would be ideally to find research supporting my research question and hypothesis, and format it so that I have a clear sum of information and then find and outline information that may contradict my research question and hypothesis, so that I have clear information supporting my original notions while also exploring the possibilities of outliers and exceptions.
As the final term paper is not due for another month or so (due date to be clarified), I aim to submit an initial draft once I am about mid-way to ensure I am on the right path, as the writing style expected of my German course I feel is quite different from what is expected of a paper from me in Australia. I am also motivated to submit the term paper before the due date as it may assist in gaining my transcript earlier
For my final term paper, I will submit a paper similar in structure to this research proposal. The final product will be approximately 15 to 20 pages in length, providing several various accounts and outlining findings from several studies, allowing for a substantial argument to my both my research question and hypothesis. I plan on separating the information into arguments supporting and contradicting the research question, and formatting the found results into comprehensible sections
- Abrahamsson, N., & Hyltenstam, K. (2009). Age of Onset and Native-likeness in a Second Language: Listener Perception Versus Linguistic Scrutiny (1st ed.).
- Hyltenstam, K., Bartning, I., & Fant, L. (2018). High-Level Language Proficiency in Second Language and Multilingual Contexts (1st ed.). Cambridge, United Kingdom: Cambridge University Press. https://books.google.de/books?id=9IBcDwAAQBAJ&pg=PA44&dq=age+of+onset+and+nativelikeness+in+a+second+language&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwj0yYPqk6nbAhXEWCwKHS2-D5wQ6AEIKTAA#v=onepage&q=age%20of%20onset%20and%20nativelikeness%20in%20a%20second%20language&f=false
- Hulstijn, J. (2015). Language proficiency in native and non-native speakers. Amsterdam: J. Benjamins. https://books.google.de/books?id=2ldhBgAAQBAJ&pg=PA159&dq=age+of+onset+and+nativelikeness+in+a+second+language&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwj0yYPqk6nbAhXEWCwKHS2-D5wQ6AEIPTAE#v=onepage&q=age%20of%20onset%20and%20nativelikeness%20in%20a%20second%20language&f=false
- Lambelet, A., & Berthele, R. (2015). Age and Foreign Language Learning in School(1st ed.). London, United Kingdom: Palgrave Macmillan. https://books.google.de/books?id=BlpvCAAAQBAJ&printsec=frontcover&dq=Age+and+Foreign+Language+Learning+in+School&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwj0is2576zbAhXC6CwKHfr7BTgQ6wEILzAB#v=onepage&q=Age%20and%20Foreign%20Language%20Learning%20in%20School&f=false
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