critical period hypothesis

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critical period hypothesis

The assignment is to choose only two of my classmate’s post and reply to their post. One paragraph or two is enough for each of my classmates. Because it is like a discussion post try to be informal and use words like ( I like your points on…, I found your post really interesting, you have a good point…, when I read your post I…, I believe that ….) something like that (using the “I” word)

The rubric

For the Response Posts you will be graded as follows:

Points Awarded 0 1-­‐2 3-­‐4
Criteria You did not complete any response posts, or your response Posts did not contribute to the discussion question. You only completed one response post and/or your responses did not contribute to the discussion in a significant way. Your responses advanced the conversation in a meaningful way, and provided a helpful and unique perspective on the discussion topic.

The question was:

In the movie this week the critical period hypothesis was discussed.  What is the critical period hypothesis and how was this hypothesis put to the test with both Genie and Victor (provide specific examples and details from the video)?  How was Genie’s language acquisition similar to that of young children learning a first language, and how was it different (again, provide examples from the video to support your response)?  Do you think the case of Genie was handled appropriately?  Why or why not?

You can find the videos in the link below:

Genie: Secret of the Wild Child

Your answer was:

This is a story of the child called Genie who spent more than 10 years alone, secluded from the people. She was like imprisoned all alone in the house for 10 years. Funnily, she could not phonate at all. The doctor postulate that she must have been beaten for making noise which made her not to phonate at all. Apart from this, she had also a funny walking different from the others. The long year of seclusion was rescued by a neighbor making her story spread a lot. On the examination, EKG showed that she had a lot of the sleeping bundles than normal which lead to the expansion of the research on her. The period hypothesis was the ability to improve speaking in the people who have been secluded for a long time. Through the Genie and Victor case, these hypotheses were tested by teaching them to see how they respond.

Genie having been impaired on the phonation, through a series of forming interaction, we find that she started to acquire a new way of communication through repetition or repeating the words. This is similar to other children way of learning a particular language. She was repeating words from the doctors like for example she repeated words such as ‘doctor’ and ‘tie.’ Learning of the first language for young children do learn by repeating from others. However, the difference came in is the time these two occurs. Phonation and ability to worm words in children occur early in life. However, for the case of Genie, we find that she was suppressed to phonate when young hence she was afraid to do so unlike the other children who do so at will. A good example, for Genie, she could not make sounds or word long after being rescued but had to form a relationship with the doctor before starting to phonate and emulate others to speak.

I think the issue of Genie was handled appropriately. I found that every party was willing to support Genie to relate and speak well with others. She was well welcomed by doctors who understood her and brought up the necessary resources to help Genie become better. This made her be able to reach out to people. Through being known as a secluded child, everyone was willing to help her. Various scholars and psychologies came about with different theories about language. Through the case of genie, they found it as an opportunity to test these theories. Example of these theories is that language is encoded in the gene and therefore it cannot be suppressed. Others said that language is acquired in a certain stage of life and therefore when the time has elapsed, it cannot be reversed. By the fact that they made her research is somehow not good but instead it should be focused to help her develop better.

Mary’s answer:

The critical period hypothesis theory suggests that humans are born with the principles of language, but there is a window of time in which a first language can be acquired, and that window closes at puberty.

The Genie Team put the hypothesis to test by helping Genie learn to attach words to her world and her emotions. Examples of this in the movie show Genie working with Susan Curtiss, learning about shapes and textures. Another example is when Marilyn Rigler showed Genie how to turn her anger and frustration outward by expressing it physically, and, although limited, verbally. Genie also needed guidance in getting connected with her physical world. This was demonstrated in the scene where Marilyn Rigler, who was reviewing the statement “I jump” with Genie, encouraged Genie to demonstrate ‘jump’.  She eventually began linking her new vocabulary to the past, and was able to describe where she spent her waking hours at her parents’ home (in the potty chair).

Genie’s language acquisition was similar to that of young children learning a first language in that she repeated words, as seen in the shoe-tying scene, where she says ’doctor’. She is hard to understand, but nonetheless repeating. It differed in the way that she wasn’t at all vocal in the beginning, as babies and toddlers are, and her team attributed this to the physical abuse that she suffered prior to her rescue. Although she was past puberty, she seemed to be learning a first language. Years into the study though, Genie was unable to put sentences together, proving the hypothesis that at least some aspects of language acquisition are time-sensitive.

In Victor’s case, Dr. Itard used methods to teach the deaf to teach Victor language skills. Itard incorporated traditional methods for the time, along with some that he created, such as the cut-out letters, to teach Victor how to read. He teaches Victor how to put together simple phrases, and also tests his understanding. An example is when Itard switched up the words in the commands he was issuing to test Victor’s understanding. Although the commands didn’t make sense, Victor was able to improvise, suggesting that he did understand. This was demonstrated when Itard asked Victor to tear a stone, and he smashed the stone. After 6 years of working with Victor, Itard’s ‘forbidden experiment’ was ended, because Victor’s progress had plateaued, similar to Genie’s.

I don’t think Genie’s case was handled appropriately because she was bounced around too much. Even though her mother was acquitted of abuse, she was not capable of caring for Genie, and it was a set-back for Genie to return there. We don’t know for sure if there were any agendas- everyone seemed to care deeply for her, but in addition to much therapy, she needed a stable and loving home environment, and she never got it.

Jess’s answer:

The critical period hypothesis says that there is a period of life in humans that is particularly ripe for learning languages. If the human doesn’t learn a first language by the time the human reaches puberty, it may be too late to learn any languages. Lenneberg hypothesized that there was a deadline for learning language. This was only a hypothesis because you can’t ethically deprive a child of learning a language during their critical period. It was called The Forbidden Experiment. Genie had multiple teachers throughout her life that were able to teach her English. Genie’s learning of English was different from other children. She had emotion words, shape words, color words, etc. However, the process in which she learned these words were very similar to other children. She learned English through books, flashcards and even pointing at things asking what they are. Rigler also taught Genie ASL, which is something Victor’s teacher failed to do. Unfortunately, Genie was unable to form grammatically correct sentences. She was able to successfully use her vocabulary, and successfully convey what she was feeling, but was unable to do so grammatically correct. This supported Lenneberg’s critical period hypothesis. Victor was also given a teacher who helped him to learn English. He was taught English in the same way that deaf children were taught English. Although, Victor never really learned how to talk. He only knew how to read simple words. This also supported Lenneberg’s hypothesis. Both the children were given teachers, and the teachers attempted to teach the children a first language. The outcome of both children’s scenarios supported Lenneberg’s hypothesis.

I think that Genie’s case was handled about as appropriately as it could have been. She was left in the care of scientists who grew to love her. Their only reason for being there in the first place was to learn something, but they left wanting the best for her. I think they did the best that they could in finding a balance between taking care of Genie, and also doing what they came there for, which was obviously science. The only criticism I have was the choice Rigler and his wife made to give up Genie once the study was over. If they loved her as much as they claimed, why wouldn’t they keep her? Surely she’s a handful, but they are just as qualified as anyone to raise her. Evidently, she was placed into horrible homes and was abused. I feel like she ended up in a similar place to where she started. That isn’t cool at all; they had a hand it putting her there. Otherwise though, I think they did a pretty good job, or at least the best they could have done given the circumstances.

Ellie’s answer:

The critical period hypothesis is the idea that language acquisition can only happen during early childhood and stops around age 13.  With both Genie and Victor, this was put into test in different ways. Victor was taught simple words and sentences, but was never really able to talk. He was able to follow commands, as well as come up with ways to follow commands using different methods. When asked to ‘tear the cup,’ he smashed it on the ground.

Genie was taught to speak and also to sign. She understood simple words and sentences, and she was able to talk/sign and use those words to describe her wants, feelings, etc. Genie was never able to communicate in a way that was grammatically correct, she would say ‘applesauce store buy.’

The biggest difference between Genie’s language acquisition and that of a young child’s, is that Genie was around 12 years old, and had not been nurtured or cared for at all during her formative years. A young child learns language by being nurtured, spoken to, sung to, read to, etc. One similarity I noticed, is that Genie’s speech acquisition was never coherent–for lack of a better term–instead she seemed to imitate/repeat the intonations of the words she heard. Reflecting on the video, the word ‘sharp’ comes to mind. The teacher said the words ‘sharp square’ in a high pitched, baby voice of sorts, and then Genie repeated ‘sharp’ using that same high pitched voice.

I think Genie’s case could have been handled much better towards the end. When she was first discovered, she was a marvel. A possible psychological breakthrough, especially after Wild Child and Victor’s story. When her story got out, her team was given ample funding to support their research on her. She was loved and cared for in the hospital, but as time went on, her development plateaued and the funding ran dry. There was no more compensation for the research, so Genie’s team took less and less interest in helping her develop and grow, and treated her like an experiment gone wrong.

Stephanie’s answer:

The critical period hypothesis is the hypothesis that there is a period that children are the most receptive of learning a language and if language is not learned in this time, the child may not be capable of learning a language. It is proposed that after a certain time, around adolescence, it may be too late. This hypothesis was challenged in the cases of Genie and Victor through the various different types of tests they were put through. There were clips shown of Genie actively repeating new words she was learning. This was done with flashcards when she worked with the linguistics specialist and done in the moment of being exposed to new objects. It was shown through these exercises that she was capable of applying different vocabulary words to objects around her. This was shown with Victor in the exercise where his caretaker would create sentences and show him what the sentence meant and then Victor would repeat the sentence and behavior. Victor was also able to show an understanding of the words in a sentence, even when the sentence didn’t grammatically make sense. With their capabilities to succeed in these exercises, it seems like they would be able to learn a first language, even if it was later than expected. However, neither of them ever were able to speak fluently.

Genie’s language acquisition was similar to young children learning a language in the sense that she started off repeating words she learned and showing what they meant, which is typical of children. It was said that she learned certain words in a different order than usual; she was familiar with some more advanced words while not knowing some basic words. Genie didn’t have the childhood experience of learning language through hearing it a lot as a child, so her overall acquisition of words was different as it was being actively tested by different professionals. She was put through rigorous tests that the average child wouldn’t go through.

I think how her case was handled was just about as I could expect it would be. It definitely would have been handled more appropriately if she had fewer professionals testing her for different things. It seems like if she had just met with a linguistic professional and maybe a psychologist, that would be enough to possibly supplement her knowledge to be able to communicate. It seems like it was wrong for so many people to be interested in her case, but I think it makes sense that people would be eager to be responsible for such a study. The video mentioned that it was abnormal for one man to be responsible for so many tasks in one person’s medical case. With the way her life situation ended up after he decided to stop caring for her, it seems like it would have been better for him to continue to care for her. A lot of things could have been differently.

Sarah’s answer:

In this video, two specific individuals were observed: Genie and Victor. Victor was a young boy, about the age of 12, when her had emerged from the forest. Genie was 13 years old when she was found being kept in isolation in her own home. Both of these children were in/around their stages of puberty (females range from 10-14 yrs and males range from 12-16 yrs). This is where the critical period hypothesis comes into play. This hypothesis states that prior to puberty is the ideal time for language acquisition. Since both of these individuals were at this time in their lives, their language development was in question. Itard worked with Victor to prove that his apparent mental retardation was caused by his isolation from the world, just as Genie’s team was doing with her. In both cases, when they were found, neither of them had the posture of a normal human, they could not speak, and acted with very animal-like movements for lack of better words. It was up to the psychologists and doctors to see if the language aspect that makes us human was still able to be obtained in these two individuals.

Chomsky, a linguist from MIT, claimed that language is acquired because we are born with the principles necessary to acquire it, not strictly from nurture. Curtiss was one of the linguists to work with Genie, and she saw right from the beginning that her speech was limited-more in the sense of babbling noises and pointing as opposed to forming her thoughts. Kent, also part of Genie’s team, followed Genie’s emotional development due to her lack of relationships. One of the things from the video that stuck out to me about Genie’s mental age, was her fascination with the helium balloons. So simple, yet the emotions that are described as her reaction to the balloon was almost how I would picture a baby laughing at their parents making silly faces. Soon after that, they describe her curiosity with the outside world (or colors) almost like when a toddler continuously asks “why?” to what seems like everything. She was unable to express her anger, and was taught by Marilyn (Rigler’s wife) taught her how to express herself in tantrums, like those of a young child.

They worked with Genie on expressing herself, forming coherent thoughts, and even tried to help Genie recall memories from her childhood through role playing exercises. They repeatedly tested her with vocabulary, flashcards, books with pictures, shapes, and even taught her sign language to avoid the vocal mistakes of Victor. It appears that she was beginning to learn language, but it then seemed to plateau despite the fact that her mental age seemed to increase by one year every year since she had been found.

Victor was placed in the Paris Institute for the Deaf to try to help him become reintegrated with society. He responded will to the deaf teaching styles. He would use cut-out letters, reading, and phrases and the actions that went along with these phrases. For the most part, Victor showed improvement, but he also plateaued in success (at a much lower level than Genie). Victor seemed to never learn the speaking aspect of language.

As far as the testing that was done on Genie, I do not believe that it was inappropriate. When Genie came to the hospital, she had little if any normal functioning. Her developmental status was that of a very young child. When a parent has a young child, they teach them about the things around them and language through repetition and close observation. This is what was being done with Genie. Yes, her case was more scientific in the sense that they were not her parents, but they did teach her how to handle language, emotions, and relationships. These are all things that are typically done by the caregiver in the same sense. As for how they recorded their information, I do think they could have been more professional and organized, but when you have a case such as this one that requires almost constant attention, gathering the data should have been more important than the strict organization of it. Overall, I thought the video was very interesting. To see scientific examples of the development of language in these circumstances is not something that you see everyday, for obvious reasons. Seeing how doctors and psychologists approached the circumstances was very interesting, and I do not see how they could have done it any other way.

Victoria’s answer:

Genie’s case was very unique that everyone is interested to test on her for her ability to learn a language. They want to see if she deprive language can be acquired or not. Their hypothesis that there is a period in the life of humans when they’re ripe for learning languages. They also were not sure if Genie was born with brain-damaged. They test her by indicate words on paper and made her read. She struggles with some words like “very very very dark blue”. She understood basic words only. She did not want any attachments with anyone.

The problem with Victor was never able to read or talk. Lane tracked Victor’s case. The hypothesis was can Victor learn any language and what is it to make us human? They used a forbidden experiment on Victor and brought him to the national institute for the deaf. The problem was the environment was not suitable for Victor to learn. Itard believed Victor was a retard and unable to learn. Itard tested Victor by making him stand in the front of the mirror and showed him apple in his hand behind Victor.

Her language acquisition was similar to young children when she was able to listen and learn by visual but not able to talk yet. The difference was that Genie was able to read and express the words later while not many young children are able to read and express (I am not sure the age for young children). But if the young children are around 5 years old, some of them are able to read like Genie. The difference, in general, was Genie remembers her development breakdown when she was young while the young children may not remember. For instance, she remembers when she went into the house where she grew up.

I think the case of Genie was handled appropriately because she had a lot of time to learn and able to process herself from the bottom like a child. Also, the process itself was professional since there were doctors and psychologists involved and they knew what

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