Stephen Krashen’s Theory of Second Language Acquisition


“Language acquisition does not require extensive use of conscious grammatical rules, and does not require tedious drill.” Stephen Krashen

Krashen’s theory of second language acquisition consists of five main hypotheses:

the Acquisition-Learning hypothesis,
the Monitor hypothesis,
the Input hypothesis,
the Natural Order hypothesis,
and the Affective Filter hypothesis.

The Acquisition-Learning Hypothesis
There are two ways of developing language ability: by acquisition and by learning. Acquisition is a sub-conscious process, as in the case of a child learning its own language or an adult ‘picking up’ a second language simply by living and working in a foreign country. Learning is the conscious process of developing a foreign language through language lessons and a focus on the grammatical features of that language.

The Natural Order Hypothesis
Language is acquired in a predictable order by all learners. This order does not depend on the apparent simplicity or complexity of the grammatical features involved. The natural order of acquisition cannot be influenced by direct teaching of features that the learner is not yet ready to acquire.

The Monitor Hypothesis
We are able to use what we have learned (in Krashen’s sense) about the rules of a language in monitoring (or self-correcting) our language output. Clearly, this is possible in the correction of written work. It is much more difficult when engaging in regular talk.

The Input Hypothesis
We acquire language in one way only: when we are exposed to input (written or spoken language) that is comprehensible to us. Comprehensible input is the necessary but also sufficient condition for language acquisition to take place. It requires no effort on the part of the learner.

The Affective Filter Hypothesis
Comprehensible input will not result in language acquisition if that input is filtered out before it can reach the brain’s language processing faculties. The filtering may occur because of anxiety, poor self-esteem or low motivation.



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