This essay will explore the five hypotheses that comprise Stephen Krashen’s model for second language learning. It will define each hypothesis and discuss a number of practical implications of Krashen’s model for the classroom. The implications will focus primarily on the “Input Hypothesis” and the “Affective Filter Hypothesis” which are the cornerstones of his model. This essay will also briefly discuss some criticisms of the model.
Krashen’s Theory for Second Language Acquisition Krashen’s theory consists of five hypotheses: 1) The Acquisition-Learning Hypothesis; 2) The Natural Order Hypothesis; 3) The Monitor Hypothesis; 4) The Input Hypothesis; 5) The Affective Filter Hypothesis. The Acquisition-Learning Hypothesis states
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The Monitor Hypothesis serves as a modifier of the Acquisition-Learning Hypothesis. It states that acquisition is more important and leads more directly to second language fluency; whereas learning is used to monitor, or edit, second language production. The monitor is not easy to use. In order to use it effectively three conditions are necessary: time, focus on form, and knowing the rule(s). Even when all of these conditions are met there is no guarantee that specific rules of grammar will be met. Krashen notes that “research strongly suggests that conscious grammar use is surprisingly light in anything short of a grammar test” (p.54). The implication is clear: too much focus on grammar and rules is of little use, and can be counter-productive, for second language acquisition. The Input Hypothesis states that we acquire second language knowledge by understanding input in increments built on the foundation of our present knowledge. Krashen defines this as “i+1,” or what we already know plus something new that is connected to it and adds a new level of understanding. This concept is consistent with a number of theories of knowledge construction, most notably, Vygotsky’s zone of proximal development. It seems to lead to the natural conclusion that second languages should be taught in a linear fashion (i.e., i+1, +1, +1…). However, Krashen believes that this is exactly the wrong conclusion and can actually be harmful.