Age and the Classroom Learning of Additional Languages

  • David SingletonEmail author
  • Agnieszka Skrzypek
Part of the Second Language Learning and Teaching book series (SLLT)


This chapter deals with some commonly held views in relation to the age-factor dimensions of the classroom learning of additional languages which the authors regard as serious misunderstandings. The principal issues focused on are the following: (a) the widespread notion that the younger = better tendencies observed among naturalistic acquirers of additional languages can be assumed to operate also in formal instructional settings; (b) the often unexamined assumption that such support as exists for the Critical Period Hypothesis constitutes an argument for early instruction in additional languages, or that a resolution of the veracity or otherwise of this hypothesis would also resolve the question of when to introduce additional languages into our schools; (c) the idea that ultimate attainment in the context of the classroom learning of additional languages is so much bound up with the age of those doing the learning that almost no other factors are relevant. With respect to all of the above, alternative research-based propositions are presented and advocated.


Language Acquisition Implicit Learning Early Start Instructional Setting Explicit Learning 
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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Trinity College DublinTrinity CollegeDublinIreland
  2. 2.University of AberdeenAberdeenUK

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