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Language Acquisiton

First Week

Language acquisition

Krashen call his theory as the "Monitor Theory" of adult second language acquisition. (but the theory is most commonly named as the Input Hypothesis nowadays. Monitor Theory hypothesizes that adults have two independent systems for developing ability in second languages: Subconscious language acquisition and conscious language learning, and that these systems are interrelated in a definite way: subconscious acquisition appears to be far more important.

Language acquisition
A particular view of language and of language acquisition According to Chomsky, the human mind is inhabited by a specific module which handles language. This is the Universal Grammar, which is at the base of all human languages, and which consists in a series of parameters which are set differently for different languages. (or principles?)

Language acquisition

This is an unconscious process - the child does not usually hypothesize about language out loud, but simply goes about its daily business, incidentally acquiring the language.

Critical Period

This vision of language acquisition is often linked to the idea of there being a 'critical period' - that is to say that anyone who has not learned a language before a certain age will never be able to do so.

Steven Pinker cites the case of Chelsea (also remember the case of Genie (Lenneberg)

Acquisition/Learning

There are two ways of getting knowledge about language:

On the one hand, we have the approach to knowledge-getting that typifies the classroom of yesteryear - the learner cons rules of grammar, lists of vocabulary, and so on. This can be contrasted with the way in which the child absorbs the mother tongue: it is only rarely that the infant shows any conscious effort in his increasing mastery of language - most of the time, he progresses while attending to other business.

Acquisition/Learning

Learning is a conscious process, demanding effort and attention to the task in hand. Acquisition, Krashen believes, is the main road to FL mastery. Learning has some utility, for it allows the student to construct a Monitor which checks on the output to ensure that it is correct. But acquisition is your main vehicle. There is no interface between learning and language acquisition.

Acquisition/Learning

The Natural Order Hypothesis

If language acquisition is powered by a specific program, and if this program is innate, we would expect all language acquirers to move along the same pathway to mastery. There would be a predictable and necessary sequence of acquisition. Furthermore, if the LAD remains available to adult learners, the acquisition process will be the same as it is for children, and adults learning English as an L2 would, all things being equal, follow the same pathway as children.

The Natural Order Hypothesis

This leads us to The Natural Order Hypothesis. There is an order of acquisition for a number of grammatical morphemes which all learners of EFL follow, whatever their language of origin. Thus, for example, the 's' of the third person singular of verbs in the present tense is acquired late, whereas the 's' of plural nouns is acquired early. (The order of acquisition for EFL is similar but not exactly identical to the order of acquisition for English as mother tongue).

A dialogue of FLA

Child : Want other one spoon, Daddy.

Child : Yes, I want other one spoon, please Daddy. Child : Other ... one ... spoon. Child : Other. Child : Spoon. Child : "Other ... spoon. Now give me other one spoon?

Father : You mean, you want THE OTHER SPOON. Father : Can you say "the other spoon"?

Father : Say "other".


Father : "Spoon". Father "Other ... spoon."

The Input hypothesis

Babies do not speak. However, we know that they listen. They are already listening while they are in the womb, for they recognize their mothers' voices from the moment they are born. After a few weeks, they begin to babble and quite soon, the babbling begins to echo the sounds of the mother tongue. So they are listening. They keep on listening for quite some time before they actually say anything. Yet during this time, they are processing language, and getting ready to talk.

The Input hypothesis

Krashen takes a further radical step: He says that listening - input - is all that is necessary to language acquisition. So long as the learner receives comprehensible input, he or she will automatically become competent in the new language. In such societies as our own literate ones - the input can be both oral and written. What is important is that the learner should want to listen or to read the material, on the one hand, and that it should be comprehensible on the other.

The Input hypothesis

i+1 ? If i represents previously acquired linguistic competence and extra-linguistic knowledge, the hypothesis claims that we move from i to i+1 by understanding input that contains i+1. Extra-linguistic knowledge includes our knowledge of the world and of the situation, that is, the context. The +1 represents new knowledge or language structures that we should be ready to acquire.

The Input hypothesis

Teachers, then, should not be challenging learners to speak all the time: a learner will talk when he or she is good and ready, and if s/he remains silent, s/he has good reasons for doing so. In any case speaking and writing do NOT lead to acquisition. Output is not a necessary part of the learning process. Of course, if the learner *wants* to speak, we are not going to stop her. But if she doesn't, that's fine.

The Monitor Hypothesis


The monitor hypothesis asserts that a learner's learned system (grammar) acts as a monitor to what they are producing. In other words, while only the acquired system is able to produce spontaneous speech, the learned system is used to check what is being spoken.

The Monitor Hypothesis

Before the learner produces an utterance, he or she internally scans it for errors, and uses the learned system to make corrections. Self-correction occurs when the learner uses the Monitor to correct a sentence after it is uttered. According to the hypothesis, such self-monitoring and selfcorrection are the only functions of conscious language learning.

Three conditions for use of the monitor


According to Krashen, for the Monitor to be successfully used, three conditions must be met: The acquirer/learner must know the rule This is a very difficult condition to meet because it means that the speaker must have had explicit instruction on the language form that he or she is trying to produce. The acquirer must be focused on correctness He or she must be thinking about form, and it is difficult to focus on meaning and form at the same time. The acquirer/learner must have time to use the monitor Using the monitor requires the speaker to slow down and focus on form.

High users Low users Optimum users

The Affective Filter Hypothesis

People whose attitudes towards language-learning are, for one reason or another, negative, will acquire less than those whose attitudes are positive - they have high Affective Filters, which keep the input out of the part of your mind responsible for acquisition. Here, there are two points we can note : First is that the effects of attitude factors are most marked on acquisition, rather than on learning. Second, while a positive attitude is a necessary precondition for acquisition to take place, it does not play a direct role in the process, which remains entirely driven by CI.

The Affective Filter Hypothesis


Three affective variables' have been identified as being related to languageacquisition: These are motivation', selfconfidence' and anxiety'