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Free «Second Language acquisition theories   » Essay Sample

Second language acquisition is a process whereby people learn another language besides their native language. Basically Krashen theory of second language acquisition deals with part of the learner as opposed to that played by the teacher. The linguistic scholars basically look at psychological and sociological process of acquiring second language. Besides second language acquisition there is the third language acquisition which is referred to as multilingual. This paper examines Krashen's theory in relation to the acquisition of the second language by the learners. The paper will particularly examine the main ideas in the second language theory by Krashen.

Stephen Krashen's theory of second language acquisition

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Krashen explains his theory through five hypotheses which are discussed below in an integrated manner. The hypotheses that are used to explain this theory are: learning hypothesis, the monitoring hypothesis, natural order hypothesis, input hypothesis and affective filter hypothesis. According to the first hypothesis, Krashen (1982) argues that the acquisition of a second language is developed in two modes which are claimed to be independent of each other. Under this hypothesis, krashen shows how the learning process takes place as subconscious process and goes further to tie the second hypothesis to the first one. In the second hypothesis, he explains how the acquired language through the hypothesis is put into application. The third hypothesis examines the acquisition of grammatical structures as being acquired in a natural, predictable and necessary order. The forth hypothesis takes on from the third and under it Krashen argue that a second language learner should be taught to speak but that it should flow naturally. The last hypothesis is on effective hypothesis examines how affective factors named as attitude, motivation, anxiety and self-confidence does contribute to the amount of comprehensible input. The argument underlined in this last hypothesis is that the weakening of the affective filter is quite significant to the attaining of SLA (Krashen, 1982).   

 
 
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In his theory Krashen explains that tedious drills as well as extensive grammatical rules are not necessary for acquisition of language. To Krashen acquisition of second language basically requires interaction that is meaningful with the language that one is targeting. This interaction has to be done in a way that one is not so much concerned with the utterance form but message being communicated which brings the needed understanding. For these reason some of the best way in learning second language is by employing methods which give comprehensible information in times where there is no anxiety (Krashen, 1982)

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Understanding of the above hypothesis form a basis for effective learning of a second language acquisition and have viewed to be very effective since they do not force the student to produce what they have been taught since the student is given time and allowed to produce at the time when they feel that they are ready. This is usually done because of the understanding that Krashen had, to him improvement only comes when comprehensive input that enables one to communicate have been supplied. Therefore forced production does not help much in acquiring second language. One of the most helpful aspects in acquiring second language is the assistance received from the native speakers of the language of interest (Brown, 2000). Basically Stephen Krashen is a linguistic expert at California southern University and he has done a lot on bilingual and non-English language acquisition. He has delivered many public lectures as well as written books on the same.

 
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The foremost hypothesis is the acquisition learning. This hypothesis forms the basis of his theory and it is most familiar among practitioners and language linguists. Krashen identifies two distinct forms of systems namely learned and acquired systems. The acquired system borrows much from the process of language acquisition of children. Therefore acquisition system is as a result of subconscious process that children often undergo in their native language. This system demands for meaningful interaction in the language of target as well as communication that is considered natural because through this a learner gains the communicative act. On the other hand learned system calls for formal interaction. This process is very conscious and for these reason it demands for conscious process which in turn yields conscious knowledge. A good example of conscious knowledge is the awareness of the grammatical rules of the language in question (Krashen, 1982).

Krashen indicates that the learning system is lesser important than the acquired system in second language acquisition. The reason why he considers it to be lesser is because the learner solely concentrates on the teacher's input which makes him learn in unnatural way. Krashen's second hypothesis in his theory of second language acquisition is referred to as monitor hypothesis. This hypothesis is essential in explaining the existing relationship between learning and acquired hypothesis. The monitor hypothesis enables one to determine the influence of the learned system on the acquired hypothesis. The practice of the learned grammar is what is considered as the monitoring function. For these reason Kreshen indicates that the utterance initiator comes about because of the acquired system. For these reason the learned system plays the role of the monitor which includes; correction of language function, planning as well as editing in the case where the specific conditions which are three would have been met (Krashen, 1982).

 
 
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From the above information it's clear that second language acquisition learner has enough time to focus on correctness of the language as opposed to the first language acquisition that seems to be under pressure to acquire language. The second language learner is advantaged because he already knows the existing rules as opposed to the first language learner. In second language acquisition the function of conscious learning is reduced or rather limited. Krashen insists that the function of the monitor should somehow be limited and only used in places where there is a deviation to ensure development of formal speech which is necessary for a more refined speech. It is also important to realize the existing variations between the specific learners in regard to the usage of the monitor. Different learners opt for different things for instance some will constantly use the monitor whereas others while prefer to learn without involving their conscious knowledge (Krashen, 1985).

Other learners often opt to use the monitor appropriately and they are referred to as optimal users. This can be determined by closely examining the learner's psychological profile which aids in grouping them. For instance the extroverts have been termed as under users whereas the perfectionists and introverts have been termed as over users. Those learners that find themselves overusing the monitor usually have a problem with self confidence. The third Krashan's hypothesis is the natural order and mainly this hypothesis is based on results obtained from research. The literature information that is used in this hypothesis indicates that natural order is essential for formation of grammatical structures. Acquisition of grammatical structures varies depending on the languages. The learner's ages are not usually considered in natural order (Krashen, 1982).

Despite the fact that Krashan's is the one who formulated the nature order hypothesis he insists that grammatical sequencing is not important in language acquisition. The final hypothesis that was given by Krashan is what is referred to as affective filter. This hypothesis indicates that affective variables are necessary for second language acquisition. The three important variables discussed by Krashan in his theory include anxiety, motivation and self confidence. This theory informs as that those learners who are most likely to succeed are those with high self image and the above three mentioned variables. The opposite of the above mentioned principles results in blocked comprehensible input. In other words a higher filter impedes acquisition of language though on its own it's not sufficient for one to acquire language. As from what grammar plays in this theory there emerges some positive aspects which can be used to teach college and high school learners. Though, it's important for teachers to bear in mind that formulation of other rules as well as examination of irregularities is appreciation of language and not linguistics (Krashen, 1982).

Teaching of grammar can only lead to language acquisition if learners have interest in the subject and secondly if the language in question is the one that is being used to issue instructions. This is the reason why teachers think that grammar teaching is important in acquisition of second language. The teacher plays an important role in the acquisition of language since he has to give sufficient explanations that can make students understand. Therefore in this case the comprehensible input comes from the teacher and active participation is essential for grasping the concepts being taught. The teacher and the student can therefore create the required environment for language acquisition. Krashen theory of second language acquisition plays an important role in understanding how secondary language is obtained. These principles can be applied in classroom in order to help student to polish their second language (Krashen 1982).

   

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