McNair/Gateway Scholars Program USC

Candise Chen

Chen.JPG

Major and Classification

Psychology

Faculty Mentor

  • Franklin Manis, Ph.D.

Department

  • Psychology

McNair Project

The Critical Period Hypothesis

The current study attempted to confirm that the critical period for second language acquisition occurred around puberty and examined the differential effects of the critical period on three aspects of language acquisition, phonology, grammar, and vocabulary. This study took on a cross-sectional design in which scores over from a standardized English proficiency level test were analyzed. The hypothesis stated that pre-pubertal children scored significantly higher than post-pubertal children. The t-test showed that students in second grade scored significantly higher than students in sixth grade in the listening, speaking, and reading, but not the writing section of the test. This result supported the hypothesis and implied that the English teachers should focus on improving the students' phonology and grammar skills before they grow passed the critical period.