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It happens again and again.

It happened again.


Me: My project has to do with phonemic awareness.


Other Person: Phonics.


Me: No, phonemic awareness, not phonics.


OP: (blank look)


Me: Phonics is the sound to letter correspondence. Phonemic awareness is only the sounds.


OP: (blank look with new element of suspicion)


Me: When phonics is taught to native speaking children of any language, the children, usually 4 or 5 years old, have the ability to hear and distinguish the sounds of their native language. Non-native speaking children cannot hear all the sounds clearly. Some sounds they cannot distinguish at all. This makes phonics less effective. My project teaches – trains – learners to hear the sounds. This improves listening, pronunciation, and makes phonics more effective. And since learning the sounds becomes more and more difficult as a learner ages, this training should take place as early as possible.


OP: I see. Hey, I have to go.


Later that evening, I got an email from OP. It was an article about how the Critical Period Hypothesis is no longer considered valid. The point being, I suppose, that there is no cut-off period for learning language.




I know the strictest version of the Critical Period Hypothesis has been discredited. There are, though, what are called sensitive periods, or optimal periods. That is to say, they are not critical periods after which no leaning can take place, but they are periods when learning is more easily accomplished. I am not saying the sounds cannot be learned after a certain period, my project, after all, is to teach them. I am saying that children do not have the ability to hear some non-native sounds, so in order to teach them, the sounds must be made salient. Children must hear the sounds to learn them.


That is what my project, b4, does.


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