Graduation Year


Document Type

Honors Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts


Human Services and Rehabilitation Studies

Program or Major

Human Services and Rehabilitation Studies

Faculty Advisor

Alison Myette


This thesis strives to provide information regarding the most evidence-based techniques regarding foreign language learning. It focuses on schools in the United States, as studies have shown that compared to the rest of the world, U.S. students are far less proficient in languages other than English. To begin, there is an overview of the basics of primary language development critical periods and milestones. The current standards for foreign language education in the United States are also reviewed, as to make a comparison to the poor correlation of when a child’s brain is apt for learning languages versus when the majority of students in the United States begin their foreign language courses. Chapter 1 provides reviews of three studies that support the idea that the most ideal time to learn language is as a child during the critical period of language acquisition. Chapter 2 enforces, however, that one does not lose the ability to learn language once past the critical period, and that with effective teaching methods it is still quite possible to acquire a second language. Finally, Chapter 3 analyzes the significance of motivation in language learning and the lack thereof in the United States. Conclusions of this thesis include the importance of exposure to language early in life, the importance of effective teaching methods, the role of necessity as motivation, and that further research on this topic is required.