Theories of Krashen


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The theories of Krashen have had great influence on the teaching of second languages.

Acquisition vs. Learning (Stephen Krashen)
Because they should be viewed as two different processes, there are also two different definitions.
Acquisition- When the speaker has an unconscious knowledge of how to use real communication in a language. This is whenever you have a "feeling" that something sounds correct, but you are unaware as to why it sounds correct (Chartock, 2004) and (Diaz-Rico, Weed, 2006).
Learning- When the speaker has the knowledge of how language works and is aware of that knowledge. This is measured in how much you actually know about a language; these are things that a teacher can help you learn about a language. This is where you would pick up those explicit language rules (Chartock, 2004) and (Diaz-Rico, Weed, 2006).

Classroom Implications:
It is important for teachers to know the difference between acquisition and learning because a lot of acquisition takes process when students communicate with one another. Students will produce some language unconsciously without the teachers help and some they will need rules and instruction for. Having students work in pairs or groups will help them not only learn the content the class is currently learning, but they will also learn English. There are many rules to the English language, but some of them do not have to be taught. Children can pick up on a lot. As teachers we just need to provide them with opportunities to acquire it.
(Diaz-Rico, L., & Weed, K., 2010).

Input Hypothesis (Stephen Krashen)
The input hypothesis states that: language is acquired in a very simple way, through the understanding of message. Through this hypothesis we are taught that when learning language it is best to not focus on the form, but truly to understand the message. By this Krashen is not say that just placing a second language learner in an immersed setting, where only the second language is being used and the learner will learn the language. No, he is saying that comprehensible input is needed for a leaner to understand language. Comprehensible input, is generally based on the here-and-now, with simple sentences so that the learner can slow down and understand the language better. To understand comprehensible input better Krashen developed i+1, which is “i” stands for the learners current understanding, 1 is the next element that will be learned in a natural order.

Classroom Implications:
I look at this like fitting a puzzle together. As teachers, we should be giving students pieces of the language puzzle in way so that they understand how they all fit together. That way, when they finish the puzzle they can tell what the picture is, rather than having a jumbled mess. When we're teaching students English we should really be giving them lessons that connect together rather than jumping around and trying to mash every lesson into a small school year. We need to be teaching at a student's natural learning pace rather than forcing them to understand pieces of the language and moving on as quickly as we can. Each lesson should fit like a puzzle piece to the student's previous understanding so that the lessons all mesh together instead of confusing the student.
Another implication of the comprehensible input hypothesis is that Krashen says that teachers should exposed students to lots of rich input in order to help them acquire the L2. This can be done through cooperative activities, use of visuals, gestures, hands-on projects, etc. The learning environment should simulate an environment of natural language acquisition. Krashen is against language teaching methods that focus exclusively on grammatical strutures, memorization of dialogues, learning of isolated vocabulary, etc.

Affective Filter Hypothesis (Stephen Krashen)
Krashen calls the affective filter a mechanism that blocks or allows input to be acquired by the learner. Language acquisition can be affected by some psychological and socicultural factors (e.g., anxiety or stress), which block out the information or message from the sender, not allowing the language to be acquired. Some factors that may block the acquisition of the language, are the school culture, the curriculum design, testing, the anxiety of the student, and the adaptation to different cultures.
If the learner is in a positive environment (low anxiety, motivated and confident), more input is filtering into the language acquisition device (LAD) and so acquisition is increased. If the learner is in a negative environment input can be filtered or blocked from the LAD so less language is learned.
Krashen says that when the affective filter is low, acquisition is high. When the affective filter is high, acquisition is low.

Classroom Implications:
In order to allow children to work within a positive affective context, it is important to create a non-threatening classroom environment. Teachers should attempt to avoid situations that will increase anxiety for ELLs, hinder their motivation to work and acquire new language, or lower self-esteem in learning. Obviously, there are any number of factors that play into these possible psychological blocks for language acquisition. For instructors it is simply important to be aware that they play a role in language learning, and to attempt to avoid putting ELLs in a situation beyond their comfort level. Also, teachers should work with students to help build self-esteem in taking risks within the classroom and can facilitate this by establishing an understanding early on that mistakes are learning opportunities (Diaz-Rico, & Weed, 2010).

Natural Order Hypothesis (Stephen Krashen)
The Natural Order Hypothesis is part of linguist Stephen Krashen’s theory of second language acquisition, which provides a basis for how to teach English learners. The theory holds that both first and second languages are learned in a predictable order. For example, babies first say sounds with vowels, then consonants formed with the lips (“p” and “b”), and then more difficult sounds like “r.” This is why a baby’s first word is often “mama.”
Researchers find the order is the same even for children whose first languages are different; the language learned determines the order. But when students learn a language in a classroom setting, the curriculum doesn’t usually follow the natural order of acquisition. Students may memorize material for a test, but this doesn’t mean they’ve “acquired” the language.
For more information, see Freeman & Freeman, pg 36.

Classroom Implications:
Realizing that not all students are on the same level. Also that students may take slower or faster than others to move on to the next level.
As a teacher, you can't rearrange the sequence in which you teach to fit all children. Instead, you must be cognizant that there is a natural order and sequence of acquisition. This can help to explain why some children acquire knowledge quickly, while others need additional time to practice.

Monitor Hypothesis (Stephen Krashen)
Stephen Krashen developed his monitor hypothesis as a means of explaining how our internal dialogue, as well as how – or if – we listen to it affects the way we learn, acquire and produce language. Krashen theorizes that our internal “monitor” is the tool we use to determine whether or not the language we are producing makes sense before the words escape our lips. He believes that the monitor is the way in which second-language learners translate and decode the information they are trying to get across into comprehensible speech. However, this is not something a person can just do haphazardly. To effectively use the monitor to control the utterances one makes, Krashen points to three things that must be present within the learner for it to work effectively.
First and foremost is the element of time – the language learner must have enough time in the dialogue to be able to process what it is they want to say before they have to say it. Therefore, in a casual conversation with a friend or family member, a debate about a political agenda or ordering food from the drive-thru at a fast food restaurant might not be the best times for a language learner to use their monitor. These conversations need to flow rather quickly, which is not conducive to using this method to self-correct.
The next thing Krashen requires for his monitor hypothesis to hold true is that the learner, in this plethora of time they have to do so, focuses on the correctness of their words. If a German language learner does not have the time to correctly conjugate the verb “sprechen,” which means “to speak,” they will not be successful in using their monitor during a conversation or discussion about speaking.
Finally, Krashen’s Monitor hypothesis does not allow for a language learner who does not comprehend the rules associated with the linguistic formation they are attempting to construct. In order for the monitor to work properly, the language learner must be familiar with all the grammatical, syntactic and linguistic anomalies that may or may not be associated with the utterance they strive to produce, lest they find themselves asking something quite possibly inappropriate when their intended request is harmless. (Interesting side note – my German teacher in high school told his host mother when he was an exchange student in school that he wanted to use her in bed, rather than ask her to help him with a particular item in the grocery store he worked at with her as he intended. Moral of the story: The correct choice of words is brauchen, as opposed to gebrauchen.)
Krashen also asserts that there are three particular types of monitor users. There are over users, who tend to be those with lower levels of self-confidence; under-users, who choose not to (or don’t know how to) use their conscious thought when producing language; and then there are optimal users, those who use their monitor appropriately and effectively when engaged in conversation or other form of dialogue, such as writing.

Classroom Implications:
In order for monitor use to be effective, students must have time to formulate their thoughts, as well as a basic knowledge of grammar rules. Teachers should be aware that English learners may pause longer than normal before answering a question, and allow for that extra processing time. In addition, teachers should be aware that developing one's monitor, or internal language check, takes time and practice with the second language.
Teachers can help English learners develop an internal monitor by creating low-pressure opportunities for conversation with small groups and games; incorporating lessons on grammar and syntax; and avoiding over-correction, which might discourage learners from speaking up in class. Krashen’s “Natural Approach” recommends creating a high-motivating, low-anxiety classroom environment.

Website created by Lisa Pearson. The information on this page is a compilation of student work from Ed 484 Fall term at Western Oregon University taught by Dr. Maria Dantas-Whitney.