The Critical Period Hypothesis on Language Acquisition Studied Through Feral Children

by nathalie.coronado on November 19, 2013 - 10:52pm

Essay Abstract

The critical period hypothesis is a theory that says that there is a critical age up until which one can acquire language. Passed that age, which is puberty, if one has not learned to talk in a certain language passed puberty then it will be way more difficult for that individual to acquire language and almost impossible to truly master it. Researchers in the field are debating over if language acquisition is more of a natural or nurture influence. If the hypothesis is proven true, it would mean that language acquisition is linked to age which means that individuals acquire language through experiences, which would be a nurture influence to the individual. The opposite case would have had a natural influence.

The critical period hypothesis has proven to be true in the case of feral children. Therefore, in that case, language acquisition is linked to age, which means that if one begins to learn how to speak after puberty, and then their chances of mastering a language are very low. In fact, acquiring language before puberty helps individuals to develop basic communication, social skills and sense of belonging, and emotional and intellectual developments. Through the cases of feral children such as Oxana Malaya, a girl with a dog-like behaviour, Genie, a girl that was isolated and tied up to a potty chair for over ten years, and Victor of Aveyron, a boy that lived in the wild for most of his childhood, we can see how the lack of language has affected their lives.

In conclusion, this essay will put emphasis on the importance for language acquisition for a child’s develop. Too often, people take language as a biological feature that human have and take it for granted. However, by those three examples one can see that lack of language can not only affect a child in a short-term basis, but also during his whole life. The three arguments stated before are the three main fields for which language can affect the one’s development.


This is a very interesting topic as I have never heard the critical period hypothesis. You use short sentences and generalized words of your topic and this make your abstract easy to follow. You should write you research paper in this way. Your structure is good, but your arguments should be a little easier to see. I reread your second paragraph a couple of times too clearly understand your arguments you will be explaining. However, I agree that a lack of language can affect ones entire life. When I read you abstract, I remembered that a human learns faster and easier when they are young. In our text, you seem to only treat the critical period hypothesis through feral children, but it would be interesting to prove how normal children have the ability to learn faster. From my personal experience, I came in Canada when I was five years old, and learning the French language was somehow easy. For my parents who were older, they also learned it, but they still make grammar and sentence structure mistakes. This is what I noticed from my perspective, but here is an article treating why children are more faster learner than adults. Again, seeing the critical period hypothesis from the feral children perspective is interesting, but comparing it to normal children would give to your research paper the two side of the topic.

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