Selasa, 09 Mei 2017

KRASHEN’S SECOND LANGUAGE ACQUISITION THEORY SEEN FROM THE THEORETICAL AND PEDAGOGICAL PERSPECTIVES



KRASHEN’S SECOND LANGUAGE ACQUISITION THEORY SEEN FROM THE  THEORETICAL AND PEDAGOGICAL PERSPECTIVES

Wiwiek Eko Bindarti

Abstract: Krashen’s controversial hypotheses dealing with second language acquisition  ran counter  to the traditional way of second language teaching and learning at that time, in which teaching learning process was focused on the form rather than the meaning of the message. The purpose of this essay is discussing Krashen’s ideas about Second Language Acquisition and its five hypotheses on SLA, as well as its presentation of the principal strengths and weaknesses. Of the five hypotheses, the Input Hypothesis and the Affective Filter hypothesis appear to be very important, since they attempt to answer the most important question in the field of second language acquisition and gives an answer that has potential impact on all areas of language teaching. If the Monitor hypothesis is correct, that acquisition is central and learning more peripheral, then the goal of language pedagogy should be to encourage acquisition. The comprehensible input should go hand in hand with the affective filter. Regardless of the theoretical drawbacks, overall Krashen’s ideas on second language acquisition have brought teachers a new horizon to a different way of looking at learners errors, and bring enthusiasm with the variety of activities.

Key Words: SLA, LAD, Krashen’s five hypotheses

Introduction
          People in the field of second language acquisition and second or foreign language teachers seem to be challenged by Krashen’s ideas about second language acquisition. Krashen in 1970s proposed  controversial hypotheses dealing with second language acquisition. His ideas ran counter  to the traditional way of second language teaching and learning at that time, in which teaching learning process was focused on the form rather than the meaning of the message.
The purpose of this essay is discussing Krashen’s ideas about Second Language Acquisition (henceforth SLA). First of all, it is worth noting briefly Krashen’s  five hypotheses on SLA which will be followed by the presentation of the principal strengths and weaknesses of the ideas based on the theoretical and pedagogical point of view.

Review of Krashen’s Theory of Second Language Acquisition
            Krashen’s ideas about second language acquisition have been acknowledged widely. Many researchers in this field and language teachers have been attracted by his Monitor Model. This model mainly comprises five important hypotheses dealing with the second language acquisition theory. They are acquisition-learning distinction, the natural order hypothesis, the Monitor hypothesis, the input hypothesis, and the affective filter hypothesis (Krashen, 1982).
 The “acquisition-learning” distinction states that adults have two distinct and independent ways of developing competence in a second language. The first way is language acquisition. Acquisition operates incidentally to processing for comprehension and results in implicit intuitive knowledge. It is a process similar to the way children develop ability in their first language. Thus, it is considered as a “subconscious” process. The acquired competence is also “subconscious” (Krashen, 1982:10). The second is language learning. Learning relies on memorization and problem solving and leads to explicit, conscious knowledge abSout the second language: ”knowing the rules, being aware of them, and being able to talk about them” (Krashen,1982:10).
The Natural Order hypothesis claimed that the acquisition of grammatical structures proceeds in a predictable order. “Acquirers of a given language tend to acquire certain grammatical structures early, and others later” (Krashen 1982:12).
The Monitor hypothesis states how acquisition and learning are used in production. Acquisition “initiates” one’s utterances in second language and is responsible for  his/her  fluency.  Learning functions as  a “Monitor”, or editor. Learning occurs only to make corrections to alter the output of the acquired system before one  speaks or writes or after one speaks or writes (as in self correction) (Krashen, 1982:15).
The input hypothesis makes the following claim: humans acquire language by understanding message or receiving comprehensible input. The comprehensible input here is the one that contains i +1. Hence, the acquirer needs to move from stage i (current competence) to stage i + 1 (the next level). In this context, “understand” means that the acquirer is focussed on the meaning and not the form of the message. “…we use more than our linguistic competence to help us understand. We also use  context, our knowledge of the world, our extra linguistic information to help us understand language directed at us” (Krashen 1982:21).
The affective filter hypothesis deals with the relationship between “affective variables” and the process of second language acquisition. It states that acquirers vary with respect to the strength or level of their Affective Filter. When the Affective Filter is high, acquirers may understand the input but it may not reach the Language Acquisition Device (LAD) needed for acquisition. This occurs when an acquirer has low motivation, lacks of self confidence, or feels anxious (Krashen, 1982:31).

Some Points to Appraise
From the point of view of pedagogy, the principal strengths and most controversial of Krashen’s ideas about second language acquisition theory are on the input hypothesis and the affective filter, despite the difficulty of defining them operationally. These hypotheses have motivated teachers to a new possibility in handling the second or foreign language class and offered more positive teaching and learning activities. For instance Littlewood (1994) in his writing about “Krashen and the Captive Learner”, although he appeared to worry if people just took Krashen’s ideas as a “dogma” rather than as an alternative solution for a second or foreign language classroom, he appraised the potential value of Krashen’s ideas  for people who needed to cope with classroom realities. Further, he asserted that Krashen’s “five hypotheses” were just hypotheses about learning; however, they could lead teachers to create a set of hypotheses about what might stimulate more “acquisition-rich”  and affective learning in the classroom.
Ellis (1990, quoted by Cook 1993:66) talked of “the lucidity, simplicity, and explanatory power of Krashen’s theory”. Lightbown (1984 quoted by Cook 1993:66) praised its combination of “ a linguistic theory (natural order hypothesis), social psychology theory (affective filter hypothesis), psychological learning theory (acquisition-learning hypothesis), discourse analysis and sociolinguistic theory (comprehensible input and the monitor hypothesis)”.
In addition, Pica (1994) while acknowledging the lack of empirical evidence in support of Krashen’s theory, found some supportive and challenging perspectives to the theory. She reviewed her own research on classroom acquirers and classroom interaction that related to Krashen’s claim about the natural order of morpheme accuracy, acquired vs learned L2 knowledge, and comprehensible input in SLA . She concluded in her review that despite the controversy, Krashen’s theoretical perspectives on L2 development had had enormous appeal to TESOL professionals, particularly those who seek practical solutions to the problems of teaching language in classroom situation. “Monitor Theory has assisted our understanding of classroom SLA and informed our creation of “acquisition- rich” classrooms” (187).

Some Drawbacks
           From the theoretical point of view, Krashen’s writings lack of theoretical base. His writings are claimed to be vague, sometimes contradictory, and lacking of concrete examples and precise statements (Gregg, 1994). This seems to be the main weakness of his writings, since some other researchers also have similar claim.  
Cook (1993) argued that Krashen gave no exact definition of comprehensible input, no way of separating acquisition from learning, no real evidence for the Monitor, no real explanation for natural order while a model should be the one that could be understood as a construct in which each element was empirically verifiable. She further argued that “the problem of the Input Hypothesis is how you could show it was wrong” (1993:67). Cook  believed that Krashen had really proposed a theory that was extremely stimulating and that provided the first attempt at wider explanation of second language acquisition, but it did not have sufficient substance on which to build newer and better theory.
In line with Cook, White (1987) suggested a number of problems with Krashen’s Input Hypothesis. Firstly, Krashen ignores the fact that certain aspects of grammar development in the learner are largely internally driven, since he concentrates on meaning and context. Secondly, he overestimates the roles and benefits of simplified input. Thirdly, due to his imprecise formulation, Krashen believes that one will not really know what input is relevant to what stage. White assured that when one incorporated a detailed theory of language, one would come up with a theory to identify precisely what aspects of input triggered development. Above all the drawbacks of Krashen’s theory, White stressed that second language acquisition theory should include an input hypothesis. This suggested that Krashen’s formulation be tightened up to deal with the objection.

The Most Crucial Idea
In contrast to some second language theorists who have assumed that children acquire while adults learn, Krashen with his “acquisition-learning” hypothesis claimed that “adults also acquire, that the ability to “pick up” languages does not disappear at puberty” (1982:10). This means that adults will have the same access to “language acquisition device” (LAD) as children do although they may not acquire native-like fluency. Hence, error correction will not be urgent. Correcting learner’s errors is done indirectly by repeating the utterance in the correct way with the assumption that the learner learns from the corrected version. But, whether this way of correcting error has its impact on learning in actual practice remains questionable. Krashen argued that “evidence from child language acquisition confirms that error correction does not influence acquisition to any great extent” (1982:11).
The “acquisition-learning” distinction has faced myriad criticisms, ranging from problems of definition, the validity of the distinction, its lack of operationalizability, to the quality of the evidence Krashen adduced in its support. 
 McLaughlin (1978) argued that the acquisition-learning distinction was “dubious” in a sense that the distinction relied on whether the process involved was conscious (as in learning) or subconscious (as in acquisition). He claimed that ”Krashen did not attempt to define conscious or subconscious, although he operationally identified conscious learning with judgements of grammaticality based on ‘rule’ and subconscious acquisition with judgements based on ‘feel’“ (1978:317). McLaughlin doubted whether it would be possible to know if subjects were actually operating on the basis of ‘rule’ or ‘feel’. He, finally, suggested another distinction : “controlled” and “automatic” processing. This distinction, as McLaughlin reasoned, enables one to avoid disputes about “conscious” or “subconscious” experience, since it is based on behavioral acts, not on inner states of consciousness (318). However, Krashen was persistent with the acquisition-learning distinction. He argued that although there was no physiological measure that showed acquisition-learning difference, it did not mean that the acquisition-learning hypothesis lost its power. The acquisition-learning distinction was an abstraction that predicted many observable and concrete phenomena. He asserted further that no one expected such abstraction to manifest  itself in every situation (Krashen, 1979).
In spite of the criticism, there is converging evidence for the acquisition-learning distinction. Zobl (1995) reviewed recent research on  the effects of explicit positive evidence and/or negative evidence in formal learning. The research provided an important test of the theory. The studies predicted that groups receiving communicative input should be more homogeneous in their gain or post-treatment scores while groups receiving metalinguistic input should display greater variability. The results showed that the metalinguistic input groups (MIGs) displayed a higher standard deviation than those of the communicative input groups (CIGs). This suggested that MIG scores be  more variable because ‘learning’ was encouraged by the explicit positive and/or negative evidence; and the CIG scores were more similar because the input was engaging the ‘acquired’ system. These results are consistent with Krashen’s theory. Earlier in his review, Zobl (1995) pointed out that in L1 acquisition theory, uniformity referred primarily to the outcome or end-states and only secondarily to the developmental route. In contrast, in L2, end-states varied beyond a certain age. Uniformity of developments indicated that L2 learners made use of a common set of algorithms for deriving grammatical subsystems from primary data. Hence, the presence of common L2 orders takes on new significance, the morphemes can now be seen to relate in central ways to the Universal Grammar (UG) module. Thus, the acquisition-learning distinction is empirically and theoretically strengthened, since these functional elements are linked to the UG module.

An Appealing Hypothesis
           Teachers might consider Natural Order is appealing. With the Natural Order one could know what and when to teach. Besides, it could be used to assess how well a learner  progresses (Shannon, 1994). To Krashen (1987) the importance of Natural Order is not for language teaching; instead, it is important to know if the order exists in order to understand why students make errors they do. Accordingly, teachers have to be more positive in dealing with learner’s errors.
A bulk of studies supports Krashen’s Natural Order hypothesis, for instance, the studies done by Brown 1973, de Villers & de Villers 1973, Dulay and Burt 1974 (Krashen, 1982). In short, the Natural Order hypothesis is confirmed. It claims that the order of L1 and L2 acquisition is not identical, and the order of L2 acquisition will be similar regardless of the first language of the acquirer. The order is quite similar between the child and the adult. “This natural order appears only under certain conditions (or it disappears only under certain conditions” (1982:13). First, under ‘Monitor-free’ conditions a ‘natural order’ of difficulty is obtained in L2 performance. This is regarded as the product of acquisition. Second, when conditions are such that the Monitor operates, the natural order is disrupted.  This is seen to be the product of learning. The Monitor operates when the performer has enough time, and he must be focused on form (Krashen,1982).
McLaughlin (1978) argued that “giving subjects time and focusing them on form by having them correct spelling and grammar in written composition did not seem to produce use of the Monitor. One might still find the ‘natural order’ of morpheme difficulty” (327). He suggested that it could be that “most conditions tap learning, but that individual differences in performance became more prominent when the task required grammatical accuracy of a particular sort” (328).
McLaughlin admitted that Krashen actually had come with interesting phenomena – especially to the finding that the same order of difficulty was found for certain English morphemes in L2 learners regardless of age, primary language, or experience with English. He also stated :
“Krashen’s pedagogical advice – that classroom instruction should be oriented more toward communication and less toward formal rules and error correction – was undoubtedly well taken. Yet McLaughlin thought that his model failed, because its empirical underpinnings were weak. The evidence he cited was often not evidence at all or could be explained more parsimoniously in other terms” (McLaughlin,1978:329).

In short, according to McLaughlin the Monitor Model is pedagogically worth trying but methodologically it is too weak since the evidence is too ‘fragile’ to support the theoretical framework.

Is Monitor still Appealing?
           The Monitor Hypothesis proves to be less useful. It was a model of learner performance before it was incorporated into Krashen’s overall theory. Krashen originally postulated that the use of the Monitor required three conditions: extra time, knowledge of the rules, and focus on forms. As has been mentioned earlier, however,  these conditions do not always lead learners to the use of Monitor so as to detect their own production. Therefore, Krashen himself considered the idea of Monitor was less useful than he once thought (Shannon, 1994). Besides, there is a crucial problem related to Monitor in that it cannot be observed. How does one determine if a learner were “Monitoring” (editing by “rule”) or “monitoring” (editing by “feel”) (McLaughlin, 1978). In relation to the natural order,  the heavier the use of Monitor, the more the rise in rank  of the late acquired items enough to disturb the natural order. To teachers, Monitor hypothesis
is useful as a metaphor. Teachers might remark that Monitor is more  evident  in writing than speaking. But Krashen stated that Monitor was evident only in discrete-point grammar test (Shannon, 1994).
There are three basic types of performer in relation to the Monitor use. Monitor over users, monitor under users, and optimal users (Krashen, 1982). Monitor over users may be  victims of  grammar-only type instruction. Or they  may have personality of such type that they may only feel secure when  they refer to his/her Monitor. They simply did not trust the acquired competence. As a result, such performers may speak “hesitantly, often self-correct in the middle of utterances, and are so concerned with correctness that they cannot speak with any real fluency” (Krashen, 1982:19). Monitor under-users are those who rely completely on the acquired system. They have not learned,  if they have learned, prefer not to use their conscious knowledge, even when conditions allow it. They are uninfluenced by error correction, can self-correct by using “feel”. The optimal Monitor users are those who use the Monitor when it is appropriate and when it does not interfere with communication. Many of them do not use grammar in ordinary communication. “Our pedagogical goal is to produce optimal users” (Krashen, 1982:19).

The Importance of Affective Filter Hypothesis
            Krashen (1982) stated that affective filter might be influenced by the negative affective factors or positive affective factors. Negative affective factors  such as: anxiety, embarrassment, and fear of failure, might raise the affective filter. The higher the affective filter, the more anxious the learner will be. This impedes acquisition. On the other hand, the positive affective filter, such as: self confidence and a sense of comfort will reduce the affective filter. This fosters acquisition. Like Monitor, affective filter does not characterize first language acquisition. Theoretically, it is a problem defining the affective filter operationally. No one can measure how high or low the affective filter is. However,  this idea is important for teachers since it gives them insight as to how they should treat their second or foreign language learners. This hypothesis motivates teachers to provide a non-threatening and encouraging environment in the real classroom.
In sum, among the five hypotheses, the Input Hypothesis and the Affective Filter hypothesis appear to be very important, since they attempt to answer the most important question in the field of second language acquisition and gives an answer that has potential impact on all areas of language teaching. They could illustrate the answer to the crucial question “How do we acquire language?” If the Monitor hypothesis is correct, that acquisition is central and learning more peripheral, then the goal of language pedagogy should be to encourage acquisition. This means that an acquisition-rich atmosphere conducive to language acquisition is essential. The comprehensible input should go hand in hand with the affective filter. This means that with comprehensible input only is not enough to foster acquisition, because low motivated learners will not be affected by the input. Hence, one way or another needs to be found in order to make learners feel secure learning the second or foreign language.
Regardless of the theoretical drawbacks, overall Krashen’s ideas on second language acquisition have brought teachers a new horizon. The ideas stimulate more creativity in internalizing language, lead to a different way of looking at learners errors, and bring enthusiasm with the variety of activities. Although Krashen’s five hypotheses are “just hypotheses about learning, rather than established facts” (Littlewood,1994), if more positively explored will certainly offer a lot more important things to deal with the practical problems in second or foreign language classrooms. The hypotheses enable teachers to formulate a set of planning and to design their own curriculum for their own class in which acquisition is encouraged.

References

Cook, V. 1993. Chapter 3: The Input Hypothesis model. In Linguistics and Second Language Acquisition. London: Macmillan.

Gregg, K. 1994. Krashen’s theory, acquisition theory and theory. In Barasch, R.M. & C.V. James (eds.). Beyond the Monitor Model. Boston: Heinle & Heinle

Krashen, S.D. 1979. A response to McLaughlin, “The Monitor Model: some methodological considerations”. Language Learning, 29, 1.

Krashen, S.D.1982. Chapter II: Second language acquisition theory. In Principle and Practice in Second Language Acquisition. Oxford: Pergamon.

Littlewood, W.T. 1994. Krashen and the captive learner. In Barasch, R.M. & C.V. James (eds.). Beyond the Monitor Model. Boston: Heinle & Heinle.

McLaughlin, B. 1978. The monitor model:some methodological considerations. Language Learning, 28, 2.

Pica, T. 1994. Monitor theory in classroom perspective. In Barasch, R.M. and C.V. James (eds.). Beyond the Monitor Model. Boston: Heinle and Heinle, 175-196.

Shannon, S.M. 1994. Introduction. In  Barasch, R.M. & C.V. James (eds.). Beyond the Monitor Model. Boston: Heinle & Heinle.