Stephen Krashens

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Summary of Stephen Krashen's "Principles and Practice in Second Language Acquisition" By Reid Wilson
First appeared: Language Learning #9 and 10
Bibliographic information:
Krashen, Stephen D. 1981. Principles and Practice in Second Language Acquisition. English Language Teaching series. London: Prentice-Hall International (UK) Ltd. 202 pages. Quote that captures the essense of the book:

"What theory implies, quite simply, is that language acquisition, first or second, occurs when comprehension of real messages occurs, and when the acquirer is not 'on the defensive'... Language acquisition does not require extensive use of conscious grammatical rules, and does not require tedious drill. It does not occur overnight, however. Real language acquisition develops slowly, and speaking skills emerge significantly later than listening skills, even when conditions are perfect. The best methods are therefore those that supply 'comprehensible input' in low anxiety situations, containing messages that students really want to hear. These methods do not force early production in the second language, but allow students to produce when they are 'ready', recognizing that improvement comes from supplying communicative and comprehensible input, and not from forcing and correcting production." (6-7) Summary of Part I. Introduction: The Relationship of Theory to Practice In deciding how to develop language teaching methods and materials, one can take three approaches: make use of second language acquisition theory, make use of applied linguistics research, and make use of ideas and intuition from experience. These approaches should in fact support each other and lead to common conclusions. This book incorporates all three approaches, with a hope of reintroducing theory to language teachers. While "most current theory may still not be the final word on second language acquisition," it is hoped that teachers will use the ideas in this book as another source alongside of their classroom and language-learning experiences. Summary of Part II. Second Language Acquisition Theory

There are five key hypotheses about second language acquisition: 1. THE ACQUISITION-LEARNING DISCTINCTION
Adults have two different ways to develop compentence in a language: language acquisition and language learning. Language acquisition is a subconscious process not unlike the way a child learns language. Language acquirers are not consciously aware of the grammatical rules of the language, but rather develop a "feel" for correctness. "In non-technical language, acquisition is 'picking-up' a language." Language learning, on the other hand, refers to the "concious knowledge of a second language, knowing the rules, being aware of them, and being able to talk about them." Thus language learning can be compared to learning about a language. The acquistion-learning disctinction hypothesis claims that adults do not lose the ability to acquire languages the way that children do. Just as research shows that error correction has little effect on children learning a first language, so too error correction has little affect on language acquisition. 2. THE NATURAL ORDER HYPOTHESIS

The natural order hypothesis states that "the acquisition of grammatical structures proceeds in a predictable order." For a given language, some grammatical structures tend to be acquired early, others late, regardless of the first language of a speaker. However, as will be discussed later on in the book, this does not mean that grammar should be taught in this natural order of acquisition. 3. THE MONITOR HYPOTHESIS

The language that one has subconsciously acquired "initiates our utterances in a second language and is responsible for our fluency," whereas the language that we have consciously learned acts as an editor in situations where the learner has enough time to edit, is focused on form, and knows the rule, such as on a grammar test in a language classroom or when carefully writing a...
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