University of California Pers

Journal Topic

Consider the following topic for this week’s journal entry:

In early 2018 language acquisition researchers engaged in a public debate over the Critical Age Hypothesis. On the one hand, in the MIT Press  (Links to an external site.)we read that researchers there have made the claim that humans have the ability to learn language easily well until 17 or 18, which coincides with the end of puberty and is past the age that the Critical Age Hypothesis would dictate. On the other hand, Prof. Monika Schmid of the University of Essex writes in The Conversation (Links to an external site.) that the Critical Age Hypothesis is bunk, that there is no distinction between learning language as a child versus as an adult. Reflect upon your own experiences of learning a language, as well as that of anyone else you know, and read both articles. Do you agree with one side or the other? Explain your opinion.


  • Post your initial post by Thursday of this week. Your response should be 100-150 words in length, and you should connect the elements in the journal topic to our course in some way. You should also include your personal experiences, tying them into the course.
    • You won’t be able to see anyone else’s post before you write your own—and that’s on purpose. Use this time to reflect on your experiences. Remember that there are ‘no wrong answers’—so long as you use the information that we have learned thus far in the course to your work, then all is good!
  • Between Friday and Sunday, please reply to at least two of your colleagues’ posts. Useful comments include engaging in dialogue, reflection, or suggestion. If you find that you agree with a given response and have nothing else to add, then I challenge you to reply to someone who has a different perspective than yours, and explore the differences.


I disagree with MIT, you are never too old to become fluent in another language. It was impressive that they provided evidence and stats to prove their argument but from personal experience, age does not matter when it comes to learning a new language. I do agree that it is a little harder for adults to process new subjects because their brain already contains information. For children, their brains do not contain as much information as adults do, that is why it is easier for kids to learn new things. However, if the person is healthy, determined and committed to learning something new then they can learn.

It reminds me of a story I read as a child, The Little Engine That Could. To summarize, the story was about a train that was traveling up a mountain, and the train carried so many things that it became too hard to keep going. But the train keep repeating, “I think I can”, and it finally went over and down the mountain. To learn from this story, If you think you can or can’t do something, then your right. So if you think you can do something and you’re willing to commit to it, then you can. I was told at a young age that age is a state of mind, if you think you are too old or too young, then you are. Take me for example, I am currently 18 years old trying to learn 3 different languages, and yes it is a little harder for me to learn but because I keep practicing and making it fun for myself, its not impossible.

To conclude, age only applies to the difficulties of learning new languages if there is limitations preventing them from learning.

Although I think that people are able to learn an additional language at any age, I definitely do think that the age at which you learn it plays a factor. I think that it allows for the learner to learn that language quicker and to a higher proficiency. I don’t want to speak for everyone when I say that because this is just what I have felt while I learn new languages. I was in a Spanish immersion meaning from kindergarten on I was learning both English and Spanish, as well as learning Farsi at home, but studying Farsi far less than the other two. To me it was easier to learn Spanish and English at a young age because I didn’t know one language over the other yet, meaning I didn’t have emphasis on tone one way or the other and other factors. I would say I learned Farsi later and due to me learning that after the other two languages, it became a harder language for me to learn. Different characters, different rules, different tones, I had adjusted to those other two languages so it made it harder to open up to a new language. 

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