Date of Original Version
Abstract or Description
This study examined four universal operating principles for first language acquisition proposed by Slobin (1973) and MacWhinney (1978). The applicability of these principles to second-language acquisition was tested by teaching children and adults a miniature linguistic system. The results suggested that the four principles played a major role in the learning of the system by 5- to 7-year-olds but not by adults. Modifications were made in the standard miniature linguistic system technique in order in maximize linguistic naturalness and referentiality. The result was a complex system that could still be taught even to 5-year-olds in the space of a few hours.