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Michael Paulino

College of Southern Nevada

Research Paper
March 23, 2006

Stephen Krashen

We acquire the rules of language in a predictable way. This quote stated by notorious

language Professor Stephen Krashen on the subject of his theory acquisition learning and more

specifically, his Natural Order Hypothesis. Stephen Krashen, a renowned language expert and

Educational Professor at the University of Southern California, has published a number of

essays and books concerning his study of Acquisition Learning and language acquisition. He

has taught in the Education and Linguistics department for 27 years at the University of

Southern California Los Angeles (Krashen 2005). Most colleagues and student of Krashen

consider him to be an expert in the field of linguistics and a specialist in the theories of language

acquisition and development. The majority of Krashens works and studies encircle the theories

and ideas of the acquisition of a secondary language. For example; Krashen has studied and

examined the ways and means of someone only speaking with a primary language, such as

English, trying to learn and comprehend a secondary language, such as Spanish.

Beginning in the 1970s, Krashen upheld a more natural approach to the instruction of a

secondary language. His natural approach include two categories in which a secondary

language can be attained. The first category is learning, which is the actual learning and

conscious study of the language. The second category is the acquisition of language; this is

whne the person learning the language is subconsciously attaining it. For example, a child who

is being raised by bilingual parents will attain each language through what he or she hears
(Myles 2003). What Stephen Krashen is most noted for in his long career in language is his

Theory of Second Language Acquisition and the five main hypothesis that pertain to the theory.

These five main hypothesis are the Acquisition-Learning hypothesis, the Monitor hypothesis, the

Natural Order hypothesis, the Input hypothesis, and the Affective Filter hypothesis. Each

hypothesis will be given a brief yet ample description in this research essay.

The first hypothesis we will explore is the Acquisition-Learning hypothesis. The

Acquisition-Learning hypothesis is looked at as the most essential and basic of Krashens five

hypotheses. It is also the most easily recognized amid the majority of language practitioners and

linguists (Cook 2003). According to Stephen Krashen, there exist two self-sufficient systems of

second language performance. The two systems Krashen has innovated are the Acquired

system and the Learned system. The Acquired system, or more commonly known as

acquisition, is very similar to the development of the young childs mind during their obtainment

of a first language. The entire process is surrounded by the theory that language is picked up

through the subconscious part of the mind over an extended period of time. What it requires is

significant and consequential communication in the given language between the subject and the

speaker. What the acquisition theory is stating is that the learner, over a given length of time,

will eventually pick up on the language without even trying to learn it. The second hypothesis is

the Learned system, also known as learning, is important but also regarded as less significant

than the acquired system. The learned system is the process of learning and studying the

language. It requires a conscious mind to listen and study rather than to just pick up the

language simply by being around people who speak it on a regular basis. Not only learning the

nouns and verbs, but also acquiring the knowledge of the proper grammar rules for that

language. It also holds in its definition, but does not require, the formal instruction from a skilled
language expert such as a second language teacher. These two hypotheses are looked at as

the most basic yet most crucial elements in his five hypotheses theory (Krashen 1988).

To define and understand the relationship between the acquisition and learning

hypotheses, you need to look at Krashens second hypothesis, the Monitor hypothesis. The

Monitor hypothesis not only looks at the relationship between the two, but also describes the

weight of learning by acquisition. The monitor has more of a direct effect on the learning

hypothesis than the acquisition hypothesis. As the acquisition system serves as the means of

speaking the language eventually , the learning system provides the position of the monitor, or

better yet , the editor. The monitor is used most when the language is being learned and the

pupil is consciously making corrections, editing, and planning what he or she will state. With this

theory, three requirements must be reached the second language student must have an

adequate time period at which he or she could spend learning the language, the students focal

point is more on the correct form and the accurateness of the grammar used, and he or she is

knowledgeable to the rules. It is, or should be, used only to correct the incorrect and maintain an

intelligent and clear form of communication when using the second language. Krashen also

points out that there are several variations of monitor users such as the over-users and

optimal-users and the under-users. Over-users are those that make use of the monitor system

the majority or all of the time. Those who do not favor in the usage or who have not yet cultured

themselves on the use of their own conscious mind, such as small children, are considered

under-users. Over-users tend to be introverts and more so the perfectionist type, while

under-users are more likely to be extroverts. The optimal-user is of course more favored as the

optimal-user makes use of the monitor suitably. Although the role of the monitor is a minor one,

it still bears much importance when obtaining a second language (Schutz 2005).
The third hypothesis in Stephen Krashens theory is the Natural Order Hypothesis. This

hypothesis goes best with the opening quote of this essay; We acquire the rules of language in

a predictable way. This theory states that the acquisition of any grammatical composition is

often predictable and follows a natural order. The natural order means that for any given

language there are grammatical structures. These grammatical structures are sometimes picked

up by learners either earlier in the learning stage or later in the learning stage depending on the

language and the physical and nonphysical means of his or her learning environment. The order

of the acquisition usually depends on the age of the learner and the condition of exposure and

practice of the language, and his or her experience with their first language. However, Stephen

Krashen eliminates the idea of grammatical succession when one is attempting to acquire a

second language. So what Krashen is saying with this hypothesis is that there is a set order, or

natural order, in which a second language is acquired. There is a certain order that takes place

when learning new languages. Also, Krashen is stating that with each different language, there

are certain parts of that languages grammatical structure that are almost always learned first

and other parts of that languages grammatical structure that are almost always learned later

(Hulit & Howard 1997).

Krashens attempt to give explanation to the process of how the learner actually picks up

the second language is his fourth hypothesis, the Input hypothesis. It is a means of stating how

the actual acquisition of the second language occurs. When looking at the two sides of

language acquisition, acquisition and learning, the Input hypothesis is only based around the

subconscious acquisition of the second language and not the conscious learning of the second

language. This hypothesis states that the learner gets better at the language through the natural

order process at the time of the learner stepping up a level through Krashen's i+1 theory. The

i+1 theory states that when the learner moves up one step higher than the level he or she has
reached while learning the chosen second language. Take for instance, if the learner is at his or

her current state of language acquisition, then he or she is at the i stage of language

development. When the learner moves on or up in the stages of language acquisition through

the natural order process, he or she will have reached the i+1 stage. Krashen has stated

during his studies of teaching that not every learner learns at the same pace and that each

learner needs a program or curriculum to best suit their personal learning needs. This is an

obvious point but Krashen has come up with a way to conquer this problem. Krashen implies

that the educator must make use of what is called a natural communicative input. The natural

communicative input is the most efficient way to design a syllabus. This means syllabus design

will ensure every learner will be able to obtain a suitable i+1 for their learning needs (Krashen


The fifth and final hypothesis is the Affective Filter hypothesis. Krashen believes that

during the acquisition of a second language, there are many negative variable that can affect

the students learning filter. These variables may include personal crutches such as motivation,

anxiety, and the students self confidence. High motivation, a high level of self confidence,

positive self image, and a low state of anxiety have a better chance to thrive with the new

language, says Krashen. He also claims that learners with a low self esteem, lack of motivation,

and an issue with anxiety can affect the learner in a deeply negative manner. The former three

factors have been known to create a kind of mental obstruction upon the learner. The positive

attributes are helpful when acquiring a new language but not fully necessary for the learning and

obtaining of a language ot occur (Boysson-Bardies 1999).