Five Hypotheses of Language Acquisition
1. Acquisition-Learning Distinction
Older learners have two distinct and independent ways of developing competence in a foreign language.
a. Langage acquisition is a subconscious process. There is implicit, informal, and natural learning. Acquisition is picking up a language.
b. Language leaning is a conscious process. There is explicit, formal learning in an artificial environment.
The acquisition learning process hypothesis claims that older learners also acquire and that the ability to acquire the language does not disappear at puberty. Older learners have also access to the same Natural Language Acquisition Device (LAD) that children have and use. Acquisition is a very powerful process in the older learner also. Error correction has little or no effect on subconscious acquisition but it is useful for conscious learning.
2. Natural Order Hypothesis
People from different countries learn English. They are different from each other. They learn the same rules and besides differences there are striking similarities.
3. The Monitor Hypothesis
Acquisition initiates our utterances and, fluency is possible through acquisition. Conscious learning has only one function to act as monitor or editor. Conscious knowledge is used only to make changes in the form of the utterance after or before it has been produced. The monitor hypotheses claims that formal rules or conscious learning play a very limited role in 2nd language performance. Conscious rules are possible to be used only when 3 conditions are there:
b. Focus on the form
c. A knowledge about the rule
Krashen Butter found out that ESL student write composition with the opportunity of time to go over what they have written and with the possibility of focusing on the form. The effect of monitor use was shockingly little.
Individual variation in monitor use in using the conscious knowledge about language:
a. Monitor overusers: they speak hesitantly without fluency
b. Monitor underusers: they speak fluently but with many errors
c. Optimal monitor users: they check their utterances appropriate and what it does not interfere with the communication. They speak fluently and accurately.
4. Input Hypothesis:
If an acquirer is at level 4 how can he progress to stage level 5? Input hypothesis claims that in order to achieve this progress the acquirer should understand the input that contains it. ‘Understand’ means the acquirer focuses on meaning not on the form. We acquire only when we understand language that contains sturcture which is a little beyond our present level of language proficiency.
Input hypothesis may be stated as follows:
• Input hypothesis relates acquisition not meaning to provide comprehensible input for the student.
• Speaking fluency cannot be taught directly. Speaking is to provide comprehensible input. When the acquirer feels himself ready speech will occur. The state of readiness will be at different times for different individuals. Early speech is naturally full of errors. Accuracy develops overtime as the acquirer hears and understands more input.
Evidences supporting the hypothesis:
1. First language acquisition (caretaker speech, babytalk)
a. It is syntacticaly simpler than adult-adult speech. It is roughly tuned to the child’s level of language proficiency.
b. Here and now principle is used.
2. Evidence from 2nd language acquisition
a. The foreigner talk
b. Teacher talk
c. Interlanguage talk ( speech used by the other FL learners)
5. The Affective-Filter Hypothesis
Different affective variables relate to 2nd language acquisition:
a. Motivation: students with high motivation succeed better.
b. Self-confidence: the higher the level of self-confidence is the higher will be the achievement level.
c. Anxiety: low anxiety is helpful in 2nd language acquisition.
These three are attitudinal factors. The more optimal they are, the better will be the output. The affective language teacher is someone who can provide input and help make it comprehensible in a low anxiety situation.