Myths And Misconceptions About Second Language Learning By Barry Eyreon Analysis

Topics: Second language acquisition, Linguistics Pages: 4 (770 words) Published: January 24, 2017


An Article Review of Barry McLaughlin’s
“Myths and Misconceptions about Second Language Learning”
In his article, “My and Misconceptions about Second Language Learning,” published in 1992, Barry McLaughlin listed five major myths and misconceptions held by the general public, or specifically by some second language teachers, as well as some contradictory viewpoints about second language learning held by different scholars. In his five main arguments, he puts specific emphases on his suggestions for second language teachers about second language teaching and learning to dispel these five myths and misconceptions. Though diverse and comprehensive, McLaughlin’s synthesis of relevant language teaching and learning studies does not provide enough...

In terms of biological development and cognitive development, he refers to studies that suggest children’s brains work better for language learning and those that suggest adults may make better use of learning strategies and develop meta-linguistic awareness. These two contradictory propositions question whether children are better second language learners or not. In favor of child learners, the Critical Period Hypothesis, supported by Noam Chomsky’s innatist theory about second language acquisition, assumes that language learning is biologically programmed and children do not need to be taught languages. Moreover, one may fail to acquire certain skills or knowledge as long as it misses the period of time it should have acquired them. Therefore, from this viewpoint, children may be more suitable for language learning, concerning their privileged biological functions. However, since adults have more social experiences and further cognitive development, they may take more advantages from the use of learning strategies and meta-linguistic knowledge for learning about vocabulary and grammar. This concept is the opposite of Universal Grammar, which corresponds to the Critical Period Hypothesis, confirming the biological nature of a part of human brains that function for language learning. If adults may use more tactics to acquire a language due to social and psychological factors, we cannot make a conclusion to the extent that how much the role of adults or children would affect the success in second language acquisition. Yet, the author repetitively mentions this controversy in the previously three arguments, and fails to synthesize the similarities of these three myths and misconceptions, which might distract the readers’...
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