The 5 Hypotheses of Krashen’s Theory of Second Language Acquisition B.Ed Notes

Stephen Krashen is an expert in the linguistic field. He specializes in the theories of language acquisition and development. He has published more than 100 articles since 1980 and has delivered over 300 lectures across many renowned Universities in USA and Canada. According to Krashen, language acquisition requires “meaningful interaction with the target language.” Dr. Krashen theorized that there are 5 hypotheses for second language acquisition. All of these 5 hypotheses have been highly influential in the field of second language research and teaching.

The Life and Work of Stephen Krashen

Stephen Krashen is an American linguist who was born in 1941. He received a Ph.D. in Linguistics in 1972 and has spent his career working as a linguistics professor at the University of Southern California. Krashen’s work has earned him a number of awards and accolades. He has received the Mildenberger Award and the Pimsleur Award for his writing and the Dorothy C. McKenzie Award for Distinguished Contribution to the Field of Children’s Literature. Krashen’s theories have been widely received with positive critical acclaim and have in many cases become the educational standard for second language learning in North America.

Krashen’s work has primarily focused on his theory of second language acquisition, or the process through which individuals learn a language besides their native language. While most of his work has focused on second language acquisition among children, his research is often applicable to older language learners as well. Some of his notable books include The Power of Reading, Explorations in Language Acquisition and Use and Foreign Language Education The Easy Way, all of which are about the role of education in second language acquisition.

Second Language Acquisition and Theories of Stephen Krashen

Second language acquisition is a major area of discussion in the field of linguistics. There are many benefits to learning a second language and many parents in America want their children to learn a second language in school. In Krashen’s work, he makes an important distinction between language learning and language acquisition. In Krashen’s view, learning must be a deliberate process of building language skills through structured activities. Most people who have studied a second language will be familiar with this approach. Krashen distinguishes learning from acquisition on the basis that acquisition is an organic process that comes about through an immersion environment. Understanding this distinction is critical for understanding Krashen’s work, which can be divided into five hypotheses.

What are the 5 Hypothesis of Krashen?

Krashen’s five hypotheses are the acquisition-learning hypothesis, the monitor hypothesis, the input hypothesis, the affective filter hypothesis, and the natural order hypothesis. All five come together to form Krashen’s theory of second language acquisition.

The five hypotheses formulated by Krashen in his theory of language acquisition are as follows.

Acquisition-Learning Hypothesis

This hypothesis states that there is a difference between language learning and language acquisition. The learner acquired language unconsciously in language acquisition whereas, in language learning, the learner picks up the language through conscious discovery and by learning the grammatical rules and structures of the language.

The acquisition-learning hypothesis elaborates on the difference between language acquisition and language learning. Acquisition is unconscious while learning is deliberate. Acquisition is much closer to the way that humans learn their native languages as children: deliberate work is not typically required. Krashen’s hypothesis states that learning ought to be secondary to acquisition for second language learners. While he does not discount the importance of structured learning entirely, he strongly emphasizes the importance of immersion environments for long-term, comprehensive acquisition. Krashen describes acquisition as a student-centered approach to education, while learning is more teacher-centered. Foregrounding learning may be easier for teachers, but Krashen argues that it is less effective in the long term.

Monitor Hypothesis

According to monitor hypotheses, the learner learns the grammar rules and functions of the language consciously rather than its meaning. It lays more emphasis on the correctness of the language. There are three standards required to use this hypothesis properly.

The monitor hypothesis comes into play as an addition to the acquisition-learning hypothesis. In Krashen’s view, ”monitoring” is a skill that people acquire when they focus on learning grammar. They can monitor their own speech to edit it and correct errors. Language acquisition can be a more chaotic system that does not focus as heavily on rules, so grammar-based monitoring can help make speech more comprehensible and aligned with learning objectives. Monitoring, Krashen points out, only comes into play when learners are aware of a grammar rule, focus on that rule, and have enough time to correct speech errors. Some people seem to rely too much on their monitoring, while other speakers under-rely on it and make more mistakes as a result. In order to make the most of the monitor system, speakers need to have reasonable confidence in their speaking abilities.

  1. The acquired must know the language rules.
  2. The acquirer must emphasize the exact form of the language.
  3. The acquirer must review the language and apply its rules in a conversation.

Natural Order Hypothesis

This hypothesis believes that language learners learn grammatical structures universally and fixedly. This kind of learning has a sense of predictability which is akin to learning the first language. Natural Order Hypothesis is based on the finding that language learners learn grammatical structures in a fixed and universal way. There is a sense of predictability to this kind of learning, which is similar to how a speaker learns their first language.

Input Hypothesis

This hypothesis focuses more on the acquisition of the second language. It is concerned more with how the language is acquired instead of how it is learned. It believes that the learner develops the language naturally as they receive fun and interesting information. The input hypothesis attempts to explain how organic acquisition takes place. This is a major question in linguistics. Krashen proposes a simple formula: ”i + 1.” In this formula, ”i” represents the current input stage that a learner can understand. There is nothing new at this level and everything has already been internalized. The ”+ 1” indicates one level of challenge where there is a small amount of new input at each level. Once learners have mastered the new material, the input can become more complex yet again. In this way, those acquiring a second language are constantly improving and constantly challenged. It can, of course, be challenging for teachers to always observe this formula; it is intended as an ideal and a guideline more than anything else and it seeks to explain the actual process of acquisition on a practical level

Affective Filter Hypothesis

In this hypothesis, emotional factors can affect language acquisition. The learner is less likely to learn the language if the affective filter is higher. Hence, the learning environment must be stress-free and positive so that the learner can learn properly.

In Affective Filter, language acquisition can be affected by emotional factors. If the affective filter is higher, then the student is less likely to learn the language. Therefore, the learning environment for the student must be positive and stress-free so that the student is open for input.

Language acquisition is a subconscious process. Usually, language acquirers are aware that they’re using the language for communication but are unaware that they are acquiring the language.

Language acquirers also are unaware of the rules of the language they are acquiring. Instead, language acquirers feel a sense of correctness, when the sentence sounds and feels right. Strange right? But it is also quite fascinating.

Stephen Krashen states

“Language acquisition does not require extensive use of conscious grammatical rules, and does not require tedious drill. Acquisition requires meaningful interaction in the target language – natural communication – in which speakers are concerned not with the form of their utterances but with the messages they are conveying and understanding.”

He further added,

“In the real world, conversations with sympathetic native speakers who are willing to help the acquirer understand are very helpful.”

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