In this study, we test the prediction, derived from the Critical Period Hypothesis, that a native-level of attainment in L2 grammar cannot be reached by learners who start acquiring a second language after the onset of puberty. We selected 30 very advanced German and French late learners (age of arrival less than or equal to 12 years) of Dutch and compared their performance on a grammar test with that of 44 (highly educated) native speakers of Dutch. The test consisted of two tasks: an elicited imitation task and a relative grammaticality judgement task. In these tasks, participants were tested on their knowledge of dummy subject constructions. These construction types were chosen because they are known to be very hard to acquire for learners of Dutch as a second language. The results show that it is possible to attain a native level of proficiency for learners who start acquiring a second language (long) after puberty.
Lahmann, Cornelia, Rasmus Steinkrauss & Monika S. Schmid
2016. Factors Affecting Grammatical and Lexical Complexity of Long‐Term L2 Speakers’ Oral Proficiency. Language Learning 66:2 ► pp. 354 ff.
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