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ERIC Number: EJ781787
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2008
Pages: 29
Abstractor: Author
Reference Count: 53
ISSN: ISSN-0267-6583
Weighing the Benefits of Studying a Foreign Language at a Younger Starting Age in a Minimal Input Situation
Larson-Hall, Jenifer
Second Language Research, v24 n1 p35-63 2008
This study examined whether a younger starting age is advantageous in a situation of minimal exposure to an instructed foreign language ([less than or equal] 4 hours classroom contact per week). Previous theoretical and empirical studies indicated there should be no advantage for an earlier start. Japanese college students who started studying English between ages three and twelve (n = 61) were examined on a phonemic discrimination ([alveolar approximant]/l/w) and grammaticality judgement task (GJT). After controlling for language aptitude and amount of input, statistical correlations were found between starting age and scores on the GJT (r = -0.38) but not the phonemic task (r = 0.03). These earlier starters were also compared to peers who began study in junior high at age twelve or thirteen (n = 139) on the same measures. The earlier starters were found to score statistically higher on the phonemic but not morphosyntactic measure, and this remained true in an ANCOVA analysis where total amount of hours of study input were controlled for. A robust ANCOVA testing for differences at different levels of input found interesting interactions between group affiliation and amount of input. Language attitudes were also tested. The evidence shows there can be perceivable age effects for linguistic measures even in a situation of minimal exposure to a foreign language, but these may not emerge until a substantial amount of input has been gained.
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Evaluative
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: Japan