A critical period for learning to pronounce foreign languages?

Academic Article


  • This article discusses the Critical Period Hypothesis (CPH) as it relates to the naturalistic acquisition of foreign-language (L2) pronunciation by adults and children. An examination of the existing empirical and theoretical literature leads to the conclusion that there is no conclusive support for the existence of a critical period for human speech learning, and that assuming a critical period does exist may inhibit the search for testable hypotheses concerning the basis for observed adult-child differences in L2 pronunciation. These conclusions are based on the existence of direct counter-evidence, as well as on the observation that apparent adult-child performance differences may arise from many different confounding factors other than adult-child differences in neurological maturation or organization that cannot be adequately controlled in behavioral research. © 1987 Oxford University Press.
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    Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Author List

  • Flege JE
  • Start Page

  • 162
  • End Page

  • 177
  • Volume

  • 8
  • Issue

  • 2