Second Language Acquisition
The subject assignment consists of answering this question:
According to Swain, ... producing the target language may be the trigger that forces the learner to pay attention to the means of expression needed in order to successfully convey his or her own intended meaning. (Swain 1985: 249)
In Swain's view, learners need not only input, but output: they need to use language in order to learn it. Krashen, however, as recently as 2009, stated that:
Research done over the last three decades has shown that we acquire language by understanding what we hear and read. The ability to produce language is the result of language acquisition, not the cause. Forcing students to speak English will not improve their ability to speak English. (Korea Times, 2009).
“Is it possible to reconcile these two seemingly opposite views as to what constitutes second language acquisition or ‘learning’, as Swain puts it? Or do these two views represent two extremes of both theory and practice?”
Many theories and research have been done trying to explain the process of Second Language Acquisition (SLA) and how languages are learned, but still none of the findings could be considered the best alternative, as each time a new theory appears, it claims that there are other points that have not been considered. Swain’s Comprehensible Output Hypothesis and Krashen’s Input Hypothesis are the most important and controversial theories in SLA that will be contemplated in this essay. Both theories may agree and differ in certain points, but they still, reconcile sharing a common ground in theory and practice.
To begin with, both authors are concerned with “input” or the linguistic data the individual is exposed to and has access to. On one hand, Stephen Krashen, an expert in the field of linguistics, specializing in theories of language acquisition and development, proposed what is known as a “Cognitive Theory of Second Language Acquisition , originally called The Monitor Model but recently labeled the Input Hypothesis (Brown, 2000: 277). Krashen actually believes that adult second language learners develop L2 competence through one of two ways which he has referred to as either acquisition or learning. Krashen’s input hypothesis consists of five main hypotheses. The first one is The Acquisition-Learning Hypothesis. Krashen (1982) has argued that Learning cannot become acquisition and that fluency in a second or foreign language is due to what learners have acquired, not what they have learned´. (Brown, 2000:278). Acquisition, according to Krashen, is a subconscious process whereas learning is an active and conscious process involving the memorization of many formal linguistic rules. Krashen asserts that second language learners should attempt to acquire linguistic rules subconsciously and in a natural way like a child acquires his or her L1. The second one is The Monitor Hypothesis: this hypothesis makes a distinction between acquisition and learning. “The learned system acts as a monitor, making minor changes and polishing what the acquired system has produced”, (Lightbown and Spada,1993:27). Moreover, Krashen emphasizes that there are three conditions which are necessary for monitor use : sufficient time, focus on form and knowing the rules (Lightbown and Spada, 1993:27). The third hypothesis is The Natural Order, which holds that “second language learners acquire the rules of a language in a predictable sequence” (Lightbown and Spada, 1993:27-28). Nevertheless, though some of the rules in a language are easy for the learner to memorize, these rules are often most difficult for the learner to acquire. Krashen’s view regarding the natural acquisition of certain structures has been supported in morpheme studies and it is...
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