Abstract

The research question investigated in this essay is “To what extent does age affect second
language acquisition?” The effect of age on second language learning is investigated through
presenting the benefits and drawbacks of both older and younger learners presenting research in
two parts, one part presenting and evaluating research that indicates that older learners have an
advantage in second language learning and a second part that shows the same for younger
learners.
Types of studies in used in this investigation are artificial language studies and immigration
studies to investigate the influence of age, identifying strengths and limitations for older and
younger learners connecting relevant other factors that may affect the learners ability to acquire a
second language. Factors that affect may the fluency that can be reached by an age group are for
example biological, social and method of learning the second language. The lack of ecological
validity in the artificial language studies and the lack of control of extraneous variables in
immigration studies is also addressed, along with other methodological and participant related
issues.
In this investigation it was found that age does affect language learning to some extent, but not in
a sense that one has to learn a second language at a certain age to gain fluency, rather that each
age group seems to have their own strengths and weaknesses in learning a second language.

En gammal ERQ lol

Biological origins of attraction are factors, on a biological level that result in attraction between two people. Attraction is a positive response in an individual to another person’s qualities and attributes which results in the romantic desire for that person. These qualities can be genes that determine our immune system and health. One indicator of health is symmetry. Body odor also plays a role in  the selection of a partner. The more a woman finds a man’s smell pleasant, the more diverse his immune system is to hers, which will result in an offspring with a strong immune system. (Wedekind et al. 1995.) There is also the evolutionary approach, the parental investment theory, that shows why men and women favor different characteristics in their partners (Buss 1989.)

Wedekind at el. (1995) found that women can decide from the smell of a man, whether he is attractive or not, and therefor determine if he would be able to produce an offspring with a strong immune system. Smell can also determine symmetry, and women tend to favor the smell of men, whom are more symmetrical, especially those women who are at the fertile phase of the menstrual cycle, as they are ready to conceive. Wedekind at el. (1995) asked men to wear clean a t-shirt for two nights and then women were asked to rate the attractiveness of the smell of each t-shirt. Both the men and women were tested for a particular set of genes (MHC genes) that were involved in the development of the immune system. The researchers found that the greater the difference between the genes in the man and the woman the more attractive she had rated the smell of the t-shirt to be. This is a good illustration of the evolution theory, which is a biological origin of attraction; a greater difference in immune system will create an offspring with a stronger immune system. 
This study provides ecological validity, since the shirts had actually been worn by men, whose scent had been transferred on to the t-shirts, although the study was conducted in America and is biased to women. Since it was only tested on women we do not know if men choose their partner based on smell as well.  

Another origin of attraction is the parental investment theory that shows the differences in what men and women rate as attractive in partner. According to Buss (1989), men who have a high social status, are older by a few years than the female, dependent and kind are favorable by women. On the contrary men are generally attracted to youth and health; at least two years younger, full lips and symmetry. These findings were done by Buss (1989), who conducted a study in which he ran a survey where the aim was to find out how our genes dictate out mate preferences. The two questionnaires used were distributed to 10,000 people from 37 countries on six continents, they were asked to rate the importance of 32 characteristics in a potential partner. In 1995 Hartfield and Sprecher replicated this study in the US, Russia and Japan. This gives the findings high ecological validity. On the other hand there is a study, which has findings that contradict the findings in Buss’s study; Simpson et al. (1986), where it is shown that women are increasingly marrying for reasons other than material necessity. Singh (1994) found that a female with the hip ratio of 0.7, regardless of body mass is attractive to men in most cultures, since it indicates the capability to bear children and give birth to a healthy child. The reason women look more into the character of their partner than men do is because they need someone to take care of her and the child after the birth. A woman has to invest much more into childbirth than a man since she is the one to bear the child for nine months. A man could leave after the woman has become pregnant, and he would still be ensured to have passed on his genes, this is why the woman has to find a dependable man who will stay and help her take care of the child.

Another study that shows the differences in attraction in men and women is a study in which the participants where shown pictures of their lovers while being monitored using fMRI. The mens’ brains were activated in the region of the brain where visual stimuli is processed, while in women brain regions associated with memory (the hippocampus) showed more activity. This would indicate that men value a woman’s appearance over her other characteristics, while women use their memory to evaluate what their partner has done in the past to get an idea of their personality and character. The findings from this study does match the evolutionary theory. Men use their vision to evaluate whether a woman is a fit partner or not, drawing their conclusion based on appearance, while women need to know how reliable or kind a man is. She processes past memories of the man’s actions to come to a conclusion. This a good illustration of where attraction origins in men and women on a biological level.

To conclude; a woman can use her sense of smell to find a suitable partner that will produce a healthy, strong offspring, as well as her memory to find a man who will be reliable and will be able to provide for the baby and the mother. Men value more than character, a young woman, with a body that can handle bearing and giving birth to a healthy child. These findings have turned out to be universal, humans look for basically the same thing in partners, on the biological level. Although there are findings that contradict the evolutionary theory, where women marry men for other reasons than what the evolutionary approach suggest women look for.

Technologies and stuff

1. Evaluate schema theory with reference to research studies.

Schema theory is a cognitive process of information processing. Schemas are packages of information stored in the long term memory, a mental representation of knowledge, beliefs and expectations of the world. One research study is the quasi experiment conducted by Bartlett in 1932, he investigated how cultural schemas influence memory. And then another quasi experiment is the Allport and Postman conducted in 1947 they investigated how preexisting schemas (stereotypes) influence memory.

The aim of Barlett’s experiment was to investigate how cultural schemas influence memory. Barlett’s used two different techniques: serial reproduction where one participants was told the story and that participant had to retell and reproduce the story and so on (snowball affect) and repeated reproduction where one participants was tested on different occasions on the same material. He used proses, stories and pictures on English participants because the story was culturally unknown for the participants. Participants were either tested on serially reproductions the stories or one participants was test on different occasions on the same materials. Results showed that there cultural schemas had distorted their memories. Certain characteristics changed. Stories became shorter, more coherent and certain parts were changed due cultural familiarities. Pictures lost their peculiarities. In conclusion, memory is not a tape recorder. We change information due to knowledge and experiences.

The aim of Allport and Postman was to investigate how preexisting schemas (stereotypes) influenced memory. They conducted a quasi experiment using serial reproduction. White participants were shown a picture of a nicely dressed black man and a poorly dressed white man with a razor in a argument. Participants serially told the picture to each other. Results showed that the picture’s story changed drastically. The razor and the dressing changed from the white man to the black man. In conclusion, the white participants preexisting schema showed that black people are more prone to violence. Pre assumably, if black participants were tested the razor and the suit would not have switched places due to different cultural schemas.

+One strength of schema theory is that several studies support the findings. Brewer and Treyens (1981) supported schema theory just as Barlett. They conducted a correlation (level of expectancy and number of items remembered) in an office. Participants spent half a minute in their professor’s office where 60 items were located, rating on how likely they would belong to an office. Student participants were asked to recall the items in it, they were not aware of this. Results showed that their memory was strongly affected by their office schemas. Objects such as desk and chair were remembered, because those are objects that are expected in an office while other objects such as wine bottle and picnic basket were not remembered.





-One limitation of this theory is that there are several ways of interpreting the theory and the definition of it is vague.



Another strength is that schema theory is useful for understanding how people categorize information,interpret stories and it also contribute to an understanding of memory distortion as well as social cognition and filling the gaps.A study that supports this is Brewer and Treyens study (1981).This study showed that their memory was strongly affected by their office schemas.Objects such as desk and chair were remembered,because those are objects are excepted in an office while other objects such as wine bottle and picnic basket were not remembered.One interesting thing was that the participants contributed to items that weren’t in the professor’s office because it belonged to office schema (e.g papers and books).


2. Technology can be used to look into the brain while it is going through a certain cognitive process or show the structure of the brain.

For instance, fMRI is used to localize functions in the brain. It lights up areas that are more active, magnetism is used to take the pictures, which is bad for the participant, although there is no radioactivity which makes it better than PET scans. This can help to diagnose memory diseases early on, diseases like Alzheimer’s. fMRI can show that there is less activation in the brain in areas that are connected to memory, and this is an early sign of Alzheimer’s disease.

MRI shows the structure of the brain, but does not show activity. Even though it does not show activation in the brain, a picture of its structure can also be useful to explain cognitive processes, like memory. For example H.M had a third of his Hippocampus removed to cure epilepsy, although it took away part of his memory. Together with other experiments, interviews and observations they looked at the structure of the brain to determine what part of his brain was removed and what effects it had. They discovered that he could remember old explicit memories, the ones he made before the operation, he can also learn new procedural memories but he cannot make new declarative memories, since this happens in the Hippocampus.

These technologies are very useful in several ways; before they were available you could not look into the brain of a living person but had to look at the brains of dead people. For this reason, looking at cognitive processes as they were happening was not possible. After these technologies were introduced localization of function was made possible which gave greater insight of what parts of the brain are used for different tasks and processes.