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Biplob Prodhan
  • 1 month ago
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What do you know about the Monitor Model Theory of Stephen Krashen? Why it is important in SLA?


What do you know about the Monitor Model Theory of Stephen Krashen? Why it is important in SLA? [‘17]

Ans. The Monitor Model Theory was proposed by Stephen Krashen, an educator and linguist. He proposed the theory as his theory of second language acquisition in his book ‘Principles and Practice in Second Language Acquisition’ in 1982. The theory was influenced by Noam Chomsky’s theory of innate language learning. The theory has enjoyed considerable prominence in SLA research. However, the Monitor Model Theory consists of five central hypothesis about second language acquisition and learning. Each hypothesis is briefly summarized below.

  1. The Acquisition-Learning HypothesisAccording to Krashen, there are two independent systems of second language performance – the acquired system and the learned system. Acquisition is picking up subconsciously. So it is implicit. This is very similar to the process children undergo when they acquire their first language. But learning is conscious and it requires error correction, explicit instruction and knowledge of language. According to him, acquisition is by far the more important process than learning. Learning cannot turn into acquisition.
  2. The Natural Order HypothesisKrashen claimed that we acquire the language rules in a predictable or natural order. He noticed that language features that are the easiest to state are not always the first be acquired. For example, adding ‘s’ to the third person singular verbs is easy to state but many of second language learners fail to apply it in spontaneous conversation.
  3. The Monitor Hypothesis: Acquisition initiates speaker’s utterances and is responsible for fluency. The learned system works as an editor or monitor by making minor changes and polishing the acquired system. Three conditions are needed to use monitor – time, focus on form and know the rule. When monitor is not used, errors are natural. Writing may be more conductive than speaking to monitor use as writing allows more time. Only once fluency established, monitoring and editing should be activated.
  4. The Input HypothesisAccording to Krashen, comprehensible input is the true cause of second language acquisition. He argues that people acquire language best when the input is slightly beyond their current level of competence (i+1).
  5. The Affective Filter HypothesisAffective filter is a metaphorical barrier that prevents learners from acquiring a language even when the appropriate input is available. ‘Affect’ refers to the feelings, motives, needs, attitudes and emotional states. Krashen claims that the best acquisition will occur in that environment where anxiety is low and defensiveness is absent. A learner who is anxious, may filter out the input, making it unavailable for acquisition.

However, the monitor model theory has also attracted a lot of criticism. Merill Swain considers that comprehensible input is not enough. She proposes comprehensible output hypothesis. The comprehensible output hypothesis states that we acquire language when we attempt to transmit a message but fail and have to try again. Eventually, we arrive at the correct form of our utterance or conversational partner finally understands and we acquire the new form that we have produced.

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