Sep. 21st, 2010

rocknload: (MARVEL ☌ I don't have to please no one.)
I am so in love with this quote from my second language acquisition textbook that I am copying it out, damn.
More surprising, we would like to claim, are the miraculous levels of proficiency that second language learners (at all ages) can reach, despite the constraints that are imposed by our biological scheduling. That maturational effects, to a very large extent, can be compensated for is indeed encouraging. The subtle differences that we have assumed to exist between near-native and native proficiency are probably high insignificant in all aspects of the second language speaker's life and endeavors, though very significant for a theory of human capacity for language learning. The highly successful L2 speakers that we have characterized as having reached "only" near-native proficiency are, in fact, nativelike in all contexts except, perhaps, in the laboratory of the linguist with specific interest in second language learning mechanisms.
Something that really frustrates me in my linguistics studies at UA is the fact that I have to basically ignore everything my professors teach about second language acquisition, because it fucking infuriates me. There's a completely unfair emphasis on insignificant accent errors, seriously as far as I can tell half the research seems to be devoted to ferreting out microscopic cognitive differences between native speakers and anyone who learned the language after puberty, and the reigning theory seems to be, "It is impossible to learn a second language, and even if you do you'll never pass as a native speaker no matter how much you try. Critical Period Hypothesis, booyah!"

Blah, blah, linguists are often extremely irritating, news at 11.

I also enjoy the point they make elsewhere about Arnold Schwarzenegger, because seriously, that guy can speak English just as well as I can. He can also speak German, which puts him like, miles ahead of me.

Quote is from Hyltenstam, K., & Abrahamsson, N. (2003) Maturational constraints in SLA. In C. Doughty & M. Long (Eds.), The handbook of second language acquisition (pp. 540-588).

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Brittany

May 2011

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