Learning a Second Language

When is the right time to learn a second language? As a young child learning two languages at the same time, or as a teenager where it is a compulsory subject at school, or when you are an adult when you have the time and dedication to spend on learning a new language. What do you think?

Warren Midgley has written an article in The Conversation titled Younger is not always better when it comes to learning a second language.


To understand more about an article research is required to explore some of the ideas raised and who the author is. Read through these 3 explorations to give more insight into the article.

  1. Theory of universal grammar – this theory suggests that humans learn to speak their native language by imitating what they hear and repeating it. In other words, we are all genetically programmed to learn and understand our first language naturally.
  2. Critical period hypothesis – this hypothesis suggests that there is a particular period in the first few years of a human’s life where language is learned if there is sufficient exposure to the language. If this does not happen for someone within this critical period of time then learning that language is so much more difficult, particularly grammar.
  3. Warren Midgley is the author of this article. He works as an Associate Professor of Applied Linguistics at the University of Southern Queensland. His fields of research are Education and Linguistics and his work has been published in many academic books and journals.


Now match these words from the article to the definitions.

WORD                                                              DEFINITION

1. second language

a) a language that is learned, not someone’s native language

2. first language b) wanting very much to have something that someone else has
3. fluency c) challenge an action or theory as not being correct
4. envy d) to have a strong effect on something
5. phenomenon e) the skills of understanding thought processes in learning
6. instinctive knowledge f) someone’s native language or mother tongue
7. exposure g) the age between being a child and an adult, usually the teenage years
8. posits h) being in the same place as someone else and interacting in person
9. contested i) a situation that exists
10. influential j) able to listen, read, speak and write coherently in a language
11. immersion k) learning online with people from all around the world
12. meta-cognitive skills l) following one after another in an order
13. adolescence m) having regular contact with something
14. consecutive n) a suggestion of something being true
15. face-to-face o) the level of ability someone has in a language
16. virtual conversation classes p) to be entirely involved in something
17. language proficiency q) a natural response or behavior
Answers: 1a, 2f, 3j, 4b, 5i, 6q, 7m, 8n, 9c, 10d, 11p, 12e, 13g, 14l, 15h, 16k, 17o.

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