The Future of Education

Edition 14

Accepted Abstracts

English Grammar Learning Effect of Second Language Early Learners and Late Learners in Chinese High Schools: A Test of the Influence of the Critical Period Hypothesis(CPH)

Weijia Liu, Chengdu Jincheng College (China)


The Critical Period Hypothesis (CPH) has sparked a long-running dispute in linguistics and language acquisition over how physiologically tied language learning is to age. The Critical Period Hypothesis (CPH) states that the age of onset influences a learner's final achievement of a second/foreign language and the importance of age as a criterion for second language acquisition (SLA). In Second Language (SL) and Foreign Language (FL) contexts, under the hypothesis of Critical Period Hypothesis (CPH), age is the most important variable to investigate in many studies, especially in the aspect of grammar learning. However, current studies still lack wider examinations of the reliability of CPH and discussions of potential factors, such as uncertain factors, individual differences, context, and accurate age. Therefore, this paper aims to investigate whether other factors will influence Chinese high school students’ grammar learning and to arouse people’s attention to what age is more appropriate to learn English grammar in the context of Chinese high school. Based on questionnaires and quantitative analysis, the results show that age does not always influence grammar performance as predicted. There are internal and external disruptions, like learning interests, learning duration, and living environment. In terms of the suitable age for learning grammar, through data analysis, results manifested that there was no obvious polarization at their highest score and the lowest counterpart for those late learners (12 or more). However, early learners’ score differences are up to 60 points unexpectedly. Thus, these imply that When teaching language learners, the age of the learner is not the only influencing factor on score changes. Additionally, according to data feedback, the age for learning grammar can be later than 12 which may be more effective. This practical paper will encourage future researchers to verify CPH from multiple perspectives and supply conducive suggestions for future grammar curriculum settings.

Keywords: Critical Period Hypothesis; Second Language Acquisition; Language Learning; Grammar; Curriculum Development 

References:[1] Qureshi, M. (2016). A meta-analysis: Age and second language grammar acquisition. System, 60. [2] Rastelli, S. (2019). The discontinuity model: Statistical and grammatical learning in adult second-language acquisition. Language Acquisition: A Journal of Developmental Linguistics, 26(4), 387-415. [3] Qureshi, M. A. (2020). Age and knowledge of morphosyntax in english as an additional language: grammatical judgment and error correction. International Review of Applied Linguistics in Language Teaching, 58(1), 29-50. [4] Du, L. (2010). Assess the Critical Period Hypothesis in Second Language Acquisition. English Language Teaching, 3(2).

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