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Reading Assignment 2 will be due in class on Thursday, March 19th (submit Paper Copy)

*There are two articles and two sets of questions for Reading 2

Copy and paste full question and TYPE answer below it. Answers must be in your own words and in complete sentences, and be about a paragraph in length.

Please proofread your paper before submission. Make sure your answer addresses the question.

You should follow the rubric for reading assignments when completing the assignment, but you do NOT need to submit it with this assignment.

Article 1:

Wild Child Speechless After Tortured Life

Abandoned by Doctors and Mother, Abused in Foster Care, ‘Genie’ Regressed


May 7, 2008 —

They called her “Genie” — a pseudonym to protect her privacy — because since infancy her life had been bottled up in the horrors she experienced in one dimly lit room.

Alternately tethered to a potty seat or tied up in a sleeping bag in a mesh-sided crib under a metal cover, Genie had contact only with her abusive father during nearly 12 years of confinement.

After her emergence from that torture in 1970, the waiflike child became a cause celebre among researchers and do-gooders who wanted both to learn from her and save her. For doctors, her case is like that of the three children recently released from years of isolation in an Austrian cellar.

The world read with revulsion last week the details of Austrian Josef Fritzl’s 24-year imprisonment and abuse of his daughter and three of the seven children he fathered with her.

The twists of Genie’s life since her release — a succession of breakthroughs, setbacks and manipulations at the hands of caregivers, researchers and foster homes — offer some perspective on the path ahead for the severely stunted Austrian children, who communicate mostly in simple grunts and gestures, much like Genie did after her rescue.

During the four years she was under the intense care of specialists at Children’s Hospital at UCLA, Genie progressed, but only briefly.

Though she eventually learned to speak, the team of credentialed doctors with millions of dollars in federal funding could not rescue Genie from a fate of abuse and exploitation.

Doctors argued over her care and affections. Finger-pointing, hateful allegations and a lawsuit followed. Even storytellers and filmmakers took sides, and ultimately, Genie regressed.

Today Genie is 51. She is again in psychological confinement as a ward of the state — her sixth foster home. And again, she is speechless.

“We fumbled the ball,” James Kent, a consulting psychologist for the Victims of Crime program in California and Genie’s psychologist told “We had the opportunity to allow more of her potential. It was as much out of ignorance as disagreements.”

Brutal Conditions, Stunted

Genie’s story began 20 months after her birth in 1957. Believing she was mentally retarded, Clark Wiley locked his daughter away, separating her from her nearly blind mother and 6-year-old brother, under the guise of protecting her.

Wiley spoon-fed her only Pablum and milk, and spoke to her mostly in barks and growls. He beat her with a wooden paddle every time she uttered a sound.

In 1970, Genie’s 50-year-old mother, Irene, escaped with Genie, then 13. Her brother, John, then 18, was left behind, and told that he, too, had been abused at the hands of his father — a man who was raised by a “bar girl” in a bordello and didn’t “pamper or baby.”

Mother and child turned up at welfare offices in Los Angeles, seeking financial support. Caseworkers noticed the odd child, who spat and clawed and moved in a jerky “bunny walk,” with her hands held out front.

The Wileys were charged with child abuse, but the day they were to appear in court, Clark Wiley shot himself to death after reportedly leaving a note that read: “The world will never understand.”

John Wiley, now 56 and a housepainter in Ohio, admitted he had often been in the room where Genie was tortured. “Whether I liked what I seen or not, it wasn’t like I was in a position to tell my mom. I was a captive audience and could do nothing about it.”

Ward of the State

When she entered Children’s Hospital at the age of 14 — still in diapers — Genie was the size of an 8-year-old with the language and motor skills of a baby, speaking only a few words — including “stopit” and “nomore.”

Her discovery coincided with the premiere of Francois Truffaut’s film “The Wild Child,” about an 18th century French “wolf boy” and the doctor who adopted and tried to civilize him.

Riveted during a private showing of the film, the staff assigned to Genie’s care applied for a grant from the National Institute of Mental Health to study Genie’s rehabilitation.

The hottest academic issue of the day was the 1967 Lenneberg theory that maintained that children cannot learn language after puberty. In some ways, Genie disproved this, but she had passed the “critical period” and was never able to master grammatical structure.

From 1971 to 1975, a multidisciplinary team used Genie as a case study — “Developmental Consequence of Extreme Social Isolation” — under the direction of Dr. David Rigler.

The team was mesmerized by her charisma and curiosity. Susie Curtiss, just out of graduate school in theoretical linguistics, was a member of the team and worked with Genie on language acquisition.

“I was a very young woman given the chance of a lifetime,” Curtiss, now a professor of linguistics at UCLA, told

“She wasn’t socialized, and her behavior was distasteful, but she just captivated us with her beauty,” said Curtiss, who took the child on daily outings.

Because of the Genie study, doctors now know that grammatical development needs linguistic stimulation. When children are isolated from language, a window closes and they lose the ability to speak in sentences.

‘We Fell in Love With Each Other’

“I spent most of my time being a human being, relating to her and we fell in love with each other,” Curtiss said. “I wasn’t old enough to be her mother, so I was able to be somewhere between a sibling and a parent. Genie was just amazing.”

Curtiss described Genie as “highly communicative,” despite the fact that she spoke fewer than 20 words at the onset. She often made her needs known by gesturing or other means, and she loved being stroked and hugged, and learned to hug back, according to Curtiss. When she was upset, at first she had a “tearless cry,” but eventually she “showed emotion very clearly.”

In her textbook, “Genie: A Psycholinguistic Study of a Modern-Day Child,” Curtiss described how Genie eventually could use limited language to describe her father’s cruelty: “Father Hit Arm. Big Wood. Genie Cry.”

Believing that a loving home would help Genie’s development, some of the specialists became her foster parents. At first psychologist James Kent became a father figure. He had argued unsuccessfully that Genie should not be separated from her mother, the one emotional attachment in the child’s life.

Soon, Jean Butler, Genie’s nursery school teacher while in the UCLA study, took the child under her wing. But Butler, who has since died, became obsessed with making a name for herself, Curtiss said in a 1994 documentary called “The Secret of the Wild Child.”

According to Curtiss, Butler told colleagues she wanted to be the next Annie Sullivan — the so-called “miracle worker” who taught language to the blind and deaf Helen Keller.

Soon, team members were divided into combative camps, accusing one another of exploitation. Butler criticized the team members for overtesting the child and other infractions. Rigler eventually asked Butler to leave, according to Kent. “She was an odd person,” he said.

Research Head Became Foster Parent

In 1971, Rigler and his wife, Marilyn, became Genie’s legal foster parents. She learned sign language and continued to progress. But by 1975, NIMH officials — citing poor organization and lack of results — refused to renew the study grant. The Riglers, who had received compensation as foster parents, then ended their care.

ABC News was unable to find current contact information for Rigler, who is now 87 and reportedly in failing health. But in a 1994 NOVA documentary, the Riglers said they assumed the foster care arrangement was “temporary.”

Genie was sent to foster care homes for special needs children, including one that was particularly religious. She immediately regressed.

She was readmitted to Children’s Hospital in 1977 for two weeks and was able to describe in sign language how her foster parents had punished her for vomiting. After that incident, Genie never regained her speech.

Again, she was thrown into foster care, some of it abusive, according to Curtiss and UCLA’s archival data on her case.

When Genie turned 18 in 1975, just after the study ended, Irene Wiley convinced the court to drop the abuse charges against her, claiming she had also been a victim, and Wiley took custody of Genie for a very short time. According to reports in the Los Angeles Times, Wiley worked as a “domestic servant” and quickly found she could not tend to Genie’s needs.

In 1978, after cataract surgery, Wiley again petitioned for custody and obtained legal guardianship of her daughter, but by then Genie had been placed in an adult care home. No one has released the name of the facility, and the private foundation that supports her care would not give out the information.

Mother Sues Team

In 1979, Wiley filed a lawsuit against the hospital and her daughter’s individual caregivers, alleging they used Genie for “prestige and profit.”

The suit was settled in 1984, but the rancor deepened. Curtiss, who had continued to work with Genie on a volunteer basis, was banned from visiting her. Meanwhile, the Riglers reconnected with Irene Wiley.

“I was banned from seeing her and was prevented from explaining to her why,” said Curtiss. “Genie had so many losses, and here she was losing the one person who had remained in her life ever since I met her.”

Russ Rymer, author of the 1993 book “Genie: An Abused Child’s Flight From Silence,” acknowledged the arguments between researchers affected those who tried to tell her story.

“I am still scarred by the tragedy,” Rymer told “The tremendous rift complicated my reporting. That was also part of the breakdown that turned her treatment into such a tragedy.”

Harry Bromley-Davenport, whose self-described “sentimental film “Mockingbird Don’t Sing” told the story from Curtiss’ point of view, spent two years researching the case, including 40 hours of interviews with Curtiss.

“Susie is the only absolute angel in this whole horrifying saga,” Bromley-Davenport said. “She is an extraordinary person.

“The greatest tragedy was Genie being abandoned after all the attention,” he said. “She disappointed the scientists, and they all folded their tent and left when the money went away — all except Susie.”

What Has Become of Genie

Today, none of the people who spoke openly to know what happened to Genie.

“I have spent the last 20 years looking for her,” said Curtiss. “I can get as far as the social worker in charge of her case, but I can’t get any farther.”

But one person who has researched Genie’s life told that he had located her through a private detective about eight years ago. That person, who wishes to remain anonymous, said that at that time, around the year 2000, Genie was living in a privately run facility for six to eight mentally underdeveloped adults.

“I got ahold of the accounts of her expenditures — things like a bathing suit, a towel, a hula hoop or a Walkman,” he said. “It was a little pathetic. But she was happy.”

Kelly Weedon, a 23-year-old student at the University of Greenwich in Britain, has spent eight months researching the case for her English dissertation. She is flying to Los Angeles in June to view the special collections at UCLA, where Genie’s story is encased in 37 feet of boxes that hold medical records, videotapes and legal files, as well as Genie’s artwork.

Weedon is studying to be a special education teacher and has forged relationships with most of the players in Genie’s drama.

“I truly believe that all the doctors who worked with Genie did the best they possibly could,” Weedon told “But it was charged with emotion. In the end, they were crucified for it. But they would have been crucified, whatever they did.”

In her meticulous research, Weedon learned Genie’s real name and, “without too much more investigation” could find her — but has decided against it.

“It wouldn’t be fair,” she said. “It would be too invasive, and she isn’t the same little girl when the stories were written about her. I wouldn’t do it — for her sake and her memory.”

Copyright © 2010 ABC News Internet Ventures

Questions for article 1: Copy and paste questions in your word document. Answer all questions in complete sentences that comprise a short paragraph. Make sure you adequately and accurately address the question in your answer. Do not copy and paste things directly from the articles.

1.How does Genie both refute (disprove) and support Chomsky’s critical period hypothesis about language? (Please support your answer by discussing both the grammatical part of language, as well as language as a whole, as they both pertain to Genie’s experience)

2.What specifically have we learned about the grammatical portion of language from Genie’s story in terms of: a) critical periods, and b) brain hemisphere specialization? Please incorporate specific class/ppt. information about hemispheric specialization, neural commitment, and age in your answer.

3.Do you think the story of Genie supports or contradicts Ethology’s premise of a critical period for early attachment with a caregiver? Please support your answer with course material. Also, with respect to the lifespan theorist camp, discuss two (2) events/factors/accomplishments in Genie’s life that speak to her human resiliency or “plasticity.” (For this answer, review Ch. 3 ppt. slide #7)

4.Why would it be inappropriate to use the research on Genie and first language learning to guide our understanding of L2 (second language) learning? (*Please address the concept of critical periods in your answer.) *This is a critical thinking question, so put your knowledge to work.


Article 2: Myths and Misconceptions about Second Language Learning

National Center for Research on Cultural Diversity and Second Language Learning

Download a PDF of this digest.

This Digest is based on a report published by the National Center for Research on Cultural Diversity and Second Language Learning, University of California, Santa Cruz: “Myths and Misconceptions About Second Language Learning: What Every Teacher Needs to Unlearn,” by Barry McLaughlin.

As the school-aged population changes, teachers all over the country are challenged with instructing more children with limited English skills. Thus, all teachers need to know something about how children learn a second language (L2). Intuitive assumptions are often mistaken, and children can be harmed if teachers have unrealistic expectations of the process of L2 learning and its relationship to the acquisition of other academic skills and knowledge.

As any adult who has tried to learn another language can verify, second language learning can be a frustrating experience. This is no less the case for children, although there is a widespread belief that children are facile second language learners. This digest discusses commonly held myths and misconceptions about children and second language learning and the implications for classroom teachers.

Myth 1: Children learn second languages quickly and easily

Typically, people who assert the superiority of child learners claim that children’s brains are more flexible (e.g., Lenneberg, 1967). Current research challenges this biological imperative, arguing that different rates of L2 acquisition may reflect psychological and social factors that favor child learners (Newport, 1990). Research comparing children to adults has consistently demonstrated that adolescents and adults perform better than young children under controlled conditions (e.g., Snow & Hoefnagel-Hoehle, 1978). One exception is pronunciation, although even here some studies show better results for older learners.

Nonetheless, people continue to believe that children learn languages faster than adults. Is this superiority illusory? Let us consider the criteria of language proficiency for a child and an adult. A child does not have to learn as much as an adult to achieve communicative competence. A child’s constructions are shorter and simpler, and vocabulary is smaller. Hence, although it appears that the child learns more quickly than the adult, research results typically indicate that adult and adolescent learners perform better.

Teachers should not expect miraculous results from children learning English as a second language (ESL) in the classroom. At the very least, they should anticipate that learning a second language is as difficult for a child as it is for an adult. It may be even more difficult, since young children do not have access to the memory techniques and other strategies that more experienced learners use in acquiring vocabulary and in learning grammatical rules.

Nor should it be assumed that children have fewer inhibitions than adults when they make mistakes in an L2. Children are more likely to be shy and embarrassed around peers than are adults. Children from some cultural backgrounds are extremely anxious when singled out to perform in a language they are in the process of learning. Teachers should not assume that, because children supposedly learn second languages quickly, such discomfort will readily pass.

Myth 2: The younger the child, the more skilled in acquiring an L2

Some researchers argue that the earlier children begin to learn a second language, the better (e.g., Krashen, Long, & Scarcella, 1979). However, research does not support this conclusion in school settings. For example, a study of British children learning French in a school context concluded that, after 5 years of exposure, older children were better L2 learners (Stern, Burstall, & Harley, 1975). Similar results have been found in other European studies (e.g., Florander & Jansen, 1968).

These findings may reflect the mode of language instruction used in Europe, where emphasis has traditionally been placed on formal grammatical analysis. Older children are more skilled in dealing with this approach and hence might do better. However, this argument does not explain findings from studies of French immersion programs in Canada, where little emphasis is placed on the formal aspects of grammar. On tests of French language proficiency, Canadian English-speaking children in late immersion programs (where the L2 is introduced in Grade 7 or 8) have performed as well or better than children who began immersion in kindergarten or Grade 1 (Genesee, 1987).

Pronunciation is one area where the younger-is-better assumption may have validity. Research (e.g., Oyama, 1976) has found that the earlier a learner begins a second language, the more native-like the accent he or she develops.

The research cited above does not suggest, however, that early exposure to an L2 is detrimental. An early start for “foreign” language learners, for example, makes a long sequence of instruction leading to potential communicative proficiency possible and enables children to view second language learning and related cultural insights as normal and integral. Nonetheless, ESL instruction in the United States is different from foreign language instruction. Language minority children in U.S. schools need to master English as quickly as possible while learning subject-matter content. This suggests that early exposure to English is called for. However, because L2 acquisition takes time, children continue to need the support of their first language, where this is possible, to avoid falling behind in content area learning.

Teachers should have realistic expectations of their ESL learners. Research suggests that older students will show quicker gains, though younger children may have an advantage in pronunciation. Certainly, beginning language instruction in Grade 1 gives children more exposure to the language than beginning in Grade 6, but exposure in itself does not predict language acquisition.

Myth 3: The more time students spend in a second language context, the quicker they learn the language

Many educators believe children from non-English-speaking backgrounds will learn English best through structured immersion, where they have ESL classes and content-based instruction in English. These programs provide more time on task in English than bilingual classes.

Research, however, indicates that this increased exposure to English does not necessarily speed the acquisition of English. Over the length of the program, children in bilingual classes, with exposure to the home language and to English, acquire English language skills equivalent to those acquired by children who have been in English-only programs (Cummins, 1981; Ramirez, Yuen, & Ramey, 1991). This would not be expected if time on task were the most important factor in language learning.

Researchers also caution against withdrawing home language support too soon and suggest that although oral communication skills in a second language may be acquired within 2 or 3 years, it may take 4 to 6 years to acquire the level of proficiency needed for understanding the language in its academic uses (Collier, 1989; Cummins, 1981).

Teachers should be aware that giving language minority children support in the home language is beneficial. The use of the home language in bilingual classrooms enables children to maintain grade-level school work, reinforces the bond between the home and the school, and allows them to participate more effectively in school activities. Furthermore, if the children acquire literacy skills in the first language, as adults they may be functionally bilingual, with an advantage in technical or professional careers.

Myth 4: Children have acquired an L2 once they can speak it

Some teachers assume that children who can converse comfortably in English are in full control of the language. Yet for school-aged children, proficiency in face-to-face communication does not imply proficiency in the more complex academic language needed to engage in many classroom activities. Cummins (1980) cites evidence from a study of 1,210 immigrant children in Canada who required much longer (approximately 5 to 7 years) to master the disembedded cognitive language required for the regular English curriculum than to master oral communicative skills.

Educators need to be cautious in exiting children from programs where they have the support of their home language. If children who are not ready for the all-English classroom are mainstreamed, their academic success may be hindered. Teachers should realize that mainstreaming children on the basis of oral language assessment is inappropriate.

All teachers need to be aware that children who are learning in a second language may have language problems in reading and writing that are not apparent if their oral abilities are used to gauge their English proficiency. These problems in academic reading and writing at the middle and high school levels may stem from limitations in vocabulary and syntactic knowledge. Even children who are skilled orally can have such gaps.

Myth 5: All children learn an L2 in the same way

Most teachers would probably not admit that they think all children learn an L2 in the same way or at the same rate. Yet, this assumption seems to underlie a great deal of practice. Cultural anthropologists have shown that mainstream U.S. families and families from minority cultural backgrounds have different ways of talking (Heath, 1983). Mainstream children are accustomed to a deductive, analytic style of talking, whereas many culturally diverse children are accustomed to an inductive style. U.S. schools emphasize language functions and styles that predominate in mainstream families. Language is used to communicate meaning, convey information, control social behavior, and solve problems, and children are rewarded for clear and logical thinking. Children who use language in a different manner often experience frustration.

Social class also influences learning styles. In urban, literate, and technologically advanced societies, middle-class parents teach their children through language. Traditionally, most teaching in less technologically advanced, non-urbanized cultures is carried out nonverbally, through observation, supervised participation, and self-initiated repetition (Rogoff, 1990). There is none of the information testing through questions that characterizes the teaching-learning process in urban and suburban middle-class homes.

In addition, some children are more accustomed to learning from peers than from adults. Cared for and taught by older siblings or cousins, they learn to be quiet in the presence of adults and have little interaction with them. In school, they are likely to pay more attention to what their peers are doing than to what the teacher is saying.

Individual children also react to school and learn differently within groups. Some children are outgoing and sociable and learn the second language quickly. They do not worry about mistakes, but use limited resources to generate input from native speakers. Other children are shy and quiet. They learn by listening and watching. They say little, for fear of making a mistake. Nonetheless, research shows that both types of learners can be successful second language learners.

In a school environment, behaviors such as paying attention and persisting at tasks are valued. Because of cultural differences, some children may find the interpersonal setting of the school culture difficult. If the teacher is unaware of such cultural differences, their expectations and interactions with these children may be influenced.

Effective instruction for children from culturally diverse backgrounds requires varied instructional activities that consider the children’s diversity of experience. Many important educational innovations in current practice have resulted from teachers adapting instruction for children from culturally diverse backgrounds. Teachers need to recognize that experiences in the home and home culture affect children’s values, patterns of language use, and interpersonal style. Children are likely to be more responsive to a teacher who affirms the values of the home culture.


Research on second language learning has shown that many misconceptions exist about how children learn languages. Teachers need to be aware of these misconceptions and realize that quick and easy solutions are not appropriate for complex problems. Second language learning by school-aged children takes longer, is harder, and involves more effort than many teachers realize.

We should focus on the opportunity that cultural and linguistic diversity provides. Diverse children enrich our schools and our understanding of education in general. In fact, although the research of the National Center for Research on Cultural Diversity and Second Language Learning has been directed at children from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds, much of it applies equally well to mainstream students.

Questions for article 2:

There are 5 myths about second language learning in childhood which are discussed in the article.

1.Please address why each statement is a myth in an explanation that is at least a paragraph in length, written in complete sentences, and in your own words— summarize (don’t copy and paste) information from the article.

2.How might dispelling (getting rid of) language myths affect US educational practices involving second language learning? (Give two specific examples in your answer. You will have to refer to at least one of the myths in your answer. You can use one myth and generate two examples from it, or you can use more than one myth to help generate your answer to how educational practices would change if we got rid of (removed) the myth(s). But, your answer should relate to at least one of the myths.

3.This question has three parts:

A) Were you surprised by the findings in this article? Please discuss why or why not- be specific.

B) Do you think US schools should require learning a second language in elementary school? Why or why not? Be specific.

C) What US cultural value(s) may limit more widespread offerings and requirements of L2 learning in K-12 curriculums? Do you think ethnocentrism plays a part? Please demonstrate your understanding of ethnocentrism in your answer. (*Remember, we discussed ethnocentrism in the prenatal unit and ppt.)

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