Meaningful Input to Language Acquisition

geek3Language acquisition (LA) or language learning (LL) is a journey. That is why teachers should provide their students with the right tools to acquire a language. Facilitators should take into account Krashen idea; “speaking is the result of language acquisition, not learning” (Krashen S. , 1987). However, acquisition begins when we understand what we hear and read. It is important to mention that this process of acquisition is accompanied by Krashen hypothesis and his interesting and latest comprehensible input hypothesis.

To acquire a language is therefore subconscious. It becomes possible when learners have meaningful comprehensible input. The Comprehension Hypothesis states that we acquire language and develop literacy when we understand messages (Krashen, 2009).  Language acquisition proceeds best when this input is ‘open’ and not just comprehensible, but interesting, even compelling. To promote this hypothesis at school will be benefit for both parts, teachers and students. When the teachers promote instances for comprehensible input to be central in meaningful task, students can get the most of a communicative activity and thus teaching can actually foster learning through acquisition.

Most of the time, teachers and students focus on learning rather than acquisition. In most EFL settings, the curricula are designed to develop and strengthen learners’ grammar competence. This is often time-consuming and lackluster. As a consequence, studies have proven that some learners frequently underperform. Therefore, it should be noted that second language acquisition occurs when the learner is in the ‘flow’ to the input, not ‘on the defensive’; his or she is not anxious about performance.

On the other hand, learning a language is a conscious process. It implicates the study and practice of grammar-rules which often have limited functions. For example, editing what we say and write. Sometimes, this conscious practice increases the level of the learners’ affective factor; breaking the learning and acquisition process at some point. So, as Krashen mentioned in an interview with John Fotheringham (2009) “we do not acquire language by producing it; only by understanding it. The ability to produce is the result of language acquisition, not the cause”.

Krashen (2009) cited Smith (1988) to make clear that for language acquisition to take place, the “acquirer” should consider himself or herself be a potential “member of the club” of those who speak the language. Taking this into account this, teachers should create these type of “clubs”. They should give the opportunity to the students to be exposed to the “club” they are interested in. In this way, as it was mention before, the “acquirer” will have low affective filters levels at the moment of performance.

To conclude, acquisition accompanied by Krashen hypothesis will be an important tool for teachers. When students have meaningful comprehensible input during a formal class it is much easier to acquire a language and become an acquirer of it. Therefore, the task of teachers is to turn formal learning into a meaningful environment to acquisition to take place.

 

REFERENCES

Fotheringham, J. (2009). http://l2mastery.com. Recuperado el 18 de November de 2016, de http://l2mastery.com/blog/linguistics-and-education/methods/stephen-krashen/

Krashen, S. (1987). Second Language Acquisition and Second Language learning.

Krashen, S. (2009). The Comprehension Hypothesis extended. Input Matters in SLA. Multilingual Matters, 81-94.

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