Is the Critical Period Hypothesis Relevant in the EFL Situation\ulcorner

  • Published : 2001.12.01


When teaching English in elementary schools was introduced in Korea in 1997, the theoretical basis was the critical period hypothesis (CPH). The object of this study was to test whether the Korean situation satisfies the conditions for the CPH such as the amount of English input and needs. As a test for this, English input and needs were compared in Korea, the U.S.A. and Singapore. The items for English input were on a continuum of primary to secondary sources and the items for English needs were on a continuum of immediate to future needs. The 0-5 scale was used. The result showed that the total means of English input were 4.87, 4.62, and 1.05 for children in the U.S.A., Singapore and Korea respectively. The total means of English needs were 4.32, 3.81, and 1.52 for children in the U.S.A., Singapore and Korea respectively. These figures show that Korean children's levels of both input and needs were from “almost none” to “little,” while those of children in the U.S.A. and Singapore were from “much” to “very much.” This shows that teaching English in Korea presently is far from meeting the conditions that are expected by the CPH. As an alternative to explain what happens cognitively to Korean children, this paper suggests the automatization and proceduralization processes.