The case of Genie Wiley has been used as an illustration of the critical period hypothesis in language development (Chomsky, 1971). According to this theory, children must be exposed to a language before a certain age or else they will not learn it. In Genie’s case, she was isolated from any kind of human contact until the age of 13 and therefore did not have the opportunity to learn any languages during her critical period. As such, after being “discovered” and placed into a more normal living situation with access to speech therapy, Genie still struggled to learn basic language skills. This suggests that there may indeed be a critical period for language development and that it is important for children to receive exposure at early ages in order for them to maximize their potential for learning languages later on in life (Vygotsky & Luria).
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