Sample Paper on Developmental Psychology: Language and Education

Developmental Psychology: Language and Education

Psychologists, teachers, and linguistic professional have provide different opinions about the methods and processes through which children acquire information and education. In most cases, this discussion is usually based on acquisition and understanding of the first language. It is however relevant among children raised in foreign nations or bilingual nations. Psychological studies and biology research dictate that there is a critical/sensitive period for language learning and development.

Over the years, researcher have studies the brain and language learning patterns. A study conducted by Robert Ruben on the period for language acquisition analyzed the time frame for acquiring language, phonology, grammar, and semantics. According to this study, the critical period of acquiring these skills is between the sixth month of infancy and the twelfth month of infancy. Other studies suggest that this critical period rages between the third and the eighth month of infancy. Studies that differentiate between the critical and sensitive period of language acquisition have also shown that the sensitive period of language development lasts up to the fourth year of life. According to data collected by this researcher from various studies, there is a time-dependent sequence of functions, which occur in series. These actions are based on the responsiveness and adaptations, which are made by the central nervous system (Ruben, 1999; Bornstein, 2014).

The Genie Wiley video, proves that there is a critical period for language acquisition and development. After being isolated for thirteen and a half years by her father, she had not had contact to the outside world and her family did not engage her in any conversation. Although she was making progress and learning the words for the new things that she interacted with in the outside world, she did not make much progress linguistically in terms of grammar development (ApolloEight Genesis, 2003).

The video also shows the difference in brain development in an isolated child and a normal child. Evidently, without normal stimulation that comes from daily interaction, the brain of a child reduces in size and becomes malformed. In the case of Genie Wiley, the lack of brain stimulation affected her brain’s language development capacity (ApolloEight Genesis, 2003). At the age of thirteen, the developmental changes that had already been affected could not be reversed. The events in this video are in line with scientific evidence on brain development. These critical learning periods in human development have been used to explain the differences in age-related development of skills (White, Hutka, Williams, & Moreno, 2013; Granena & Long, 2013). Outside the critical period of language skill acquisition, other factors that determine the ability of an individual to develop these skills are involved (Birdsong, 2017).

Some researchers have argued that language development can occur at any age based on evidence obtained from second language acquisition, recovery from aphasia or other conditions affecting the brain. Language acquisition after in these instances can be based on the fact that the region responsible for language acquisition had already developed during early childhood (Bornstein, 2014; Gelbrecht, 2011).

Based on the findings discussed in this essay, I agree that there is a critical period for language acquisition in human development, and as children approach adolescent years, acquiring this skills becomes difficult. Like most researchers who believe that the development of the first language is dependent on critical periods, I also believe this hypothesis based on the outcomes of Genie Wiley in the video and the results obtained from different studies.




ApolloEight Genesis. (2003). Genie Wiley-TLC Documentary. Youtube.

Birdsong, D. P. (2017). Critical Periods. Oxford Bibliographies, DOI: 10.1093/OBO/9780199772810-0139.

Bornstein, M. H. (2014). Sensitive Periods in Development: Interdisciplinary Perspectives. Psychology Press.

Gelbrecht, A. (2011). Is There a Sensitive Period in Second Language Learning? GRIN Verlag.

Granena, G., & Long, M. (2013). Sensitive Periods, Language Aptitude, and Ultimate L2 Attainment. John Benjamins Publishing Company.

Ruben, R. J. (1999). A Time Frame of Critical/Sensitive Periods of Language Development. Indian Journal of Otolaryngology and Head & Neck Surgery, 51(3), 85-89. Retrieved from

White, r. J., Hutka, S. A., Williams, L. J., & Moreno, S. (2013). Learning, Neural Plasticity and Sensitive Periods: Implications for Language Acquisition, Music Training and Transfer across the Lifespan. Front Syst. Neuroscience, 7.90.