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An Overview of Stephen Krashen's Theories of Second Language Acquisition

An Overview of Stephen Krashen's Theories of Second Language Acquisition | ITTT | TEFL Blog

Second or foreign language learning, which appears to be an ever-present hurdle for many, has constantly been a topical issue with numerous Hypotheses centered around it, including language acquisition theory or monitor model with its sweeping effects on language learning in classrooms around the world. This well-known theory, first presented by Stephen Krashen in the 1970s, is initially based on six Hypotheses ( The Acquisition-Learning Hypothesis, the Natural Order Hypothesis, the Monitor Hypothesis, the Input Hypothesis, the Affective Filter Hypothesis, and the Reading Hypothesis) that will be discussed in this article.

The Acquisition-Learning Hypothesis

According to Krashen, in terms of foreign language performance, there are two fundamental approaches labeled as acquisition and learning. The acquisition seems to be an authentic and natural process of languages like the way one acquisition his/her native language as a child through authentic exposure and natural communication, while the term learning refers to the process in which individuals make efforts to learn a second language through mastery over the syntax and lexis in a conscious process.

The natural process of language acquisition is divided into five steps starting from a silent period during which students just listen and receive direct or indirect input on the same lines as the first years of an infant's life. In the early production phase, some signs of production in the form of short phrases and chunks may well be observed that gradually leads to a viable ability to communicate through simple questions and replies in the third step, known as speech emergence. The next two stages, intermediate and advanced fluency, are probably achieved somewhere after six to ten years of study when students' output may be very close to native level.

The Natural Order Hypothesis

This hypothesis offers a potential order in which children presumably pick up their native language. According to Krashen, the same predictable order appears to be applied by learners of English as a second language. An example of this can perhaps be the widely_observed necessity of getting familiar with past simple before learning past perfect tense, for instance, or present simple before present perfect. This practical order needs to be taken into consideration in order to avoid frustration for both teachers and students who obviously need to be ready to go to the next step of the learning process.

The Monitor Hypothesis

The monitor Hypothesis suggests a tendency to monitor or self-correct one's language production based on the language rules and principles acquired by the learners. This would seem to happen when some specific conditions are met. The learner requires to be focused, take his/her time, and know the language rules in order to be able to monitor their production. This appears to be more applicable when it comes to writing since it can cause frequent pauses and an ever-rising tendency to self-correction that inevitably leads to unnaturalness in speech.

The Input Hypothesis

This notion, also known as the comprehension hypothesis, indicates that the level of the language the learners are exposed to is required to be higher than their own language levels. To put it another way, L+1 needs to be taken into account since providing a higher level or lower level of input does not seem to be of great use for learners and may result in anxiety, demotivation, and disappointment. Additionally, when the input does not require any attempts to be comprehended, no learning takes place.

The Affective Filter Hypothesis

This hypothesis puts emphasis on the value of self-confidence, motivation, and a positive self-image on second language acquisition. This premise also embodies the devastating impact of anxiety and stress in the language learning process. Evidently, lack of motivation and assertiveness, in addition to high levels of anxiety, form a filter or mental block that spontaneously afflicts the language production and the quality of the output.

The Reading Hypothesis

A sixth theory, known as the reading or input hypothesis, has also been promoted by Stephen Krashen, who puts value on the input learners receive through extensive reading. This hypothesis indicates that learners can gradually expand and enrich their vocabulary and unconsciously increase their exposure to structures, collocations, grammatical orders, and so forth through reading.

To sum up, perhaps the point that may be neglected in this theory can be the paramount importance and effects of a learner's native language on his/her second language learning/acquisition process. It might be hard for a person who has never been a learner of English to assume that one's native language apparently is much more than just a way of communication.

In fact, languages may well form a huge part of individuals' ideology and perform like a monitor which spontaneously adapts the Second language output with grammatical rules, order, and collocations of one's first language. This admittedly increases the necessity of starting a language learning process at an early age so as to broaden the horizons and enable the potential learners to think out of the box.

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