Second language acquisition theory studies methods of learning other language. And Krashen’s theory is the most important one. Input hypothesis is the kernel idea of Second language acquisition of Krashen, and it does be valuable for our English classroom teaching.
According to Ellis (1985), Second language acquisition means the process of learning a second language (except native language) by conscious study or unconscious acquire under guidance or natural situation.
There are many theories about second language acquisition, such as Input theory of Swain, Krashen’s second language acquisition theory. Swain (1985) argues that language output is also important for second language study. But in this article, we will focus on the theory of Input Hyperthesis.
Stephen Krashen did many studies on second language study, and his theory made him an expert in the field of linguistics, especially theories of language acquisition and development. Krashen’s theory becomes more and more popular and important since the 1980’s, and it is widely used in all areas of language research and teaching. All his theories about second language study consist of five parts: the Acquisition-Learning Hypothesis, the Monitor Hypothesis, the Natural Order Hypothesis, the Input hypothesis and the Affective Filter Hypothesis.
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According to Krashen’s (1981) study, meaning is less important in language acquire. Acquiring a language is “picking up” a language, which means developing ability in a language by using it in natural communicative situation. It can also be found that, many successful language learners are always keep silent in communication, prefer to listen to others. They acquire when they focus what is been said, but not how it is said, that is, they always acquire when language is used for communication real ideas rather than focusing on rules of language study.
Classroom teaching almost is the only form of our English teaching and students can seldom acquire English knowledge by other ways. In our English classroom study, language study is acting as study the rules, having a conscious knowledge about grammar and so on. Teachers often teach students the rule of English, such as: present tense, infinitives.
The theory of Input Hypothesis
According to Krashen(1981), the Input Hypothesis is the kernel theory of his second language acquisition. His input hypothesis theory explains how to acquire a second language, that means, it explains how second language acquisition takes place.
Krashen argues that language study should concerned with “acquisition”, but not “learning”. The former is more important than the latter. Acquisition and learning are two different processes. Acquisition means learners absorb a foreign language unconsciously by practicing with outside world, and can use it fluently correctly. “Learning” means learners study a foreign language consciously and try to understand its rule. Krashen (1982) believes that learners can study language by comprehensive language input, which is the necessary condition of acquire a foreign language. Only when information input is comprehensive, learners can acquire the foreign language well, because comprehensive information can impact positively on language study.
According to Krashen(1983), comprehensive language input is the key factor of language acquire, that is, acquirers can move from stage “i”, where represents present competence, to “i+1”, the next level by understanding input which includes “i+1”. “understanding” or “comprehensive” means that learners focus on the meaning but not the form of the information.
Also, the Input Hypothesis states that input information should include “i+1” as a neccesary condition for language acquisition, but it is not enough. If students comprehend the input message, “i+1” will be offered. That means, if communication is successful, “i+1″is provided automatically.
Implication of the Input Hypothesis in English Classroom Teaching
Theory of Krashen (1981), especially input Hypothesis, does heavy impact on English teaching research and practice. At present, almost all English teaching adopt classroom teaching form, and most students learn English by listening to what teacher said on class, doing homework after class, and attending all kinds of exam. Input Hypothesis also is important to English classroom teaching, and teachers can improve their teaching ability and achieve satisfied teaching results by using Input Hypothesis theory well.
Teachers used to emphasis on grammar, rules, doing lots of exercises, but seldom had chances for students to touch, use, conclude language rules themselves in practice. So that, students obtained little understanding input information on classroom, which limited development and improvement of their English level.
And now, “student central” teaching form is seldom used in classroom teaching. Also kinds of exams, such as CET â…¦, CET â…£, TOFEL, press students heavily, so that, teachers and students stick in the mud of homework exercises and exams, which results many high score students can not use English skillfully, fluently in realistic society.
Combine the research on Second Language Acquisition and current English study, is can be seen that, internal factors and outside factors both influence the study results of students. Internal factors include study ability, emotion, age, characters, which related to learners themselves. Outside factors refer to social culture environments, classroom training, and opportunities of using English after class. Beebe (1985) argued that learner-internal and external factors would influence model preferences.
According to Second Language Acquisition, English study process is also a process of psychology participant, a process of obtaining, depositing, tidying and using input message. And the process can be finished under good language environments and language input.
Study the theory of Second Language Acquisition, especially Input Hypothesis, and make use of its rules to guide current English classroom teaching are all important to reform English classroom teaching methods and improve English teaching quality. There are four suggestions below:
Modification of the teacher talk
As mentioned above, the quality of input message is very important for English classroom teaching.
First, enforce quality of teachers. Teachers’ ability is one of the most important factors of classroom teaching. Good teachers should not only have enough language ability, but also knowledge of psychology about teaching. They should also master rules and specialties of language acquisition, and can use them in daily classroom teaching well.
Language acquisition researchers think that teachers are not only guidance and resource, not only management and commend of students, but also participants, co-workers, subsidiary psychology supporters of students. Teachers can encourage learners to use necessary study strategy in studying in order to accelerate study progress.
According to Hedge (2000), responsibility of teachers are providing study plans, managing mutual activities, controlling study, explaining problems and study feedback. A good teacher should know the function and responsibility of study guidance. On the other hand, learners should take part in whole class design, choice study progress; provide study activities, which related much to whether study will succeed at last.
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Teachers should improve both their native and foreign language. Because good express of native language is very helpful for students to understanding language input message. Frequent, natural language in both native and foreign language can afford facility to students to comprehend. Neutral and concrete vocabulary and grammatically well-formed sentences are also helpful for learners to obtain more comprehensive message. It is also clear that learners can comprehensive better when teachers use the same words to express some meaning, but not different words. Keeping frequent stimulations to learners can induce them absorb relevant knowledge and have more opportunities to understand.
Second, improve information quality. Teachers should improve quality and quantity of language input, so that, teaching can reach “i+1″level. Teachers should adopt different input methods according to learners’ ability or other factors. Also some fresh, interesting resources should be adopted in classroom teaching, that means, except text in class, teachers can teach students more subject issues, more style essay, politic problems, hot society problems and so on. Students should be encouraged to do more reading and listening, which can enrich their language input.
In addition, the rate of speech is also important for students to remember second language input. Some investigations show that, proper rate talk in English on classroom teaching can improve the understand ability of students. On the contrary, if the rate of speech is not appropriate by teachers, it will be difficult for students to grasp what is said, and the talking information may be “noise” for them, even it can make them anxiety, disappointed, uninterested to listen what is said, which will be negative for second language study. Therefore, teachers should pay attention to their talking rate, talking accent, talking speed, do more exercise on English speech, adapt to students’ understanding, which can improve input messages effect ion a great deal.
Establishment of the student-centered teaching mode
Traditional teaching model is teacher-centered, which make students be costumed to study and use English passively. Most knowledge learners get is from teachers’ talking in class and main content in class is about grammar, rules and so on. English is always acted as knowledge for students to study, remember and exercises and learners try to recite more words, make some sentence without mistakes, and understand what is written in English. Although some good students can finish above well, they can not speak it well to express themselves, can not follow English TV, broadcast, that is, they can not adapt to foreign language living situation easily. So teacher centered model is limited to improve learners’ quality and quantity of input information, and it is harmful to increase students interesting on second language study, not helpful for students to develop their ability on language using. Thomas (1983) pointed out a pragmatic failure is more distinctive in communication and Kasper (1992) called for more researches in nonstructural aspects. So “the teachers-centered” teaching model is already not conform to the development of modern society, and new teaching model is necessary for students to have.
There are many other techniques for students to understand what is being said in English to them, for example, frequent use of visual, and giving them more chances to express what they think, providing opportunities for them to chat or communicate in English, also companied with gesture is welcome. Let learners know second language is just a tool we can used to express our idea, and more listening and speaking is very helpful to make progress in grasping it soon. That means, students centered teaching model is suggested to be widely used in English classroom teaching, which can increase learners’ activity, interesting on English study greatly.
According to Krashen (1981), unconscious learning process to acquire language can only be succeed in the natural situation. Under “student-centered” teaching mode, learners’ creativities and activities can be aroused, which make them accept the outside information actively and take part in class gladly. Classroom teaching time is very limited, so teachers should make full use the limited time to give more chances of speaking and communicating practices for learners. For example, teachers can choose a hot topic in current or some problems students care for to attract students in class. Say some idea of teachers’ own, make an example first, and require students to keep up with or provide different ideas. All students can be divided into several groups also, and every student can have chance to express his own opinion on this topic. Agreement or disagreement idea can be talked in each group, and leader of each group can conclude all opinion and give a whole state. Group leaders may be asked to give a speech in front of the blackboard and answer some questions. Thus, what learners have said and their opinion expressed are focused, but not whether correct grammar and tense are used. The main finding of the above practice is that, teacher should guide and stimulate learners’ interesting to enjoy their hobby or meaningful topic and make them feel easy, interested and naturally in English classroom teaching, but not let them feel a heavy burden to reach some certain learning effects, such as grades. In another words, “student-centered” teaching mode can make learners improve enough understanding input messages to develop their ability to use applying English freely, easily and naturally.
Introduction of the relevant background knowledge
Chinese and English are different at many aspects. For example, Chen (1987) focused on the sound pitch differences of the two languages. Although they are different language, some learning methods are same. Teachers should try to make a good environment for students to understand. For example, to ensure what is taught can be sufficiently understandable, some background knowledge or histories are strongly suggested to provide to students. Instead, relevant message about class content is crucial to improve language input quality. According to some researchers, master a second language by using the language and its culture together is always a short cut than only using language itself. The method of combine language and its culture can also be applied in English classroom teaching, because it can not only provides learners knowledge, but also can arouse their flame of studying second language.
Each text is not isolated, just as a sentence has its own context. And contexts often do helpful to understand. The same phenomenon also exists in English classroom teaching. For example, when teachers introduce an article to students, they can talk much more background on relevant history, actor, actress, time, reason, and so on. More information about the article is good to increase study interesting, and also helpful for learners to understand the whole article well, master what is want to express easily. More introduction of an issue will enrich its depth, make story more dramatic, people more vividly, picture more colorful, and all these make input information more comprehensive.
Application of the multimedia technology
Techniques of language acquire is not easy to grasp in a short time, not like other kinds of skills. So, it is more abstract and hard to know completely. A good study environment is necessary for learners to study well. Teachers should try to make a real language situation for students to imitate native language using, which can stimulate learners to master second language more naturally.
In recent years, with the development of science, especially multimedia and network, language teaching becomes more diversiform. Modern teaching devices, especially multimedia, computer, are widely used, which improve language environment in class greatly. Be famous with full function and diversiform, widely used of multi-technology in second language teaching make learners accumulate their second language ideas step by step, which can induce final correct grasping and communication of the foreign language abilities.
Except teachers’ talking in class, recording, TV, film, broadcast, network, language teaching software also can be used to practice learners’ ability of language input and output. Also, students should be encouraged to do more outclass reading and practice by all kinds of modern tools. Some of these tools can provide students vivid picture, some can offer pure English sings and video. And they provide acquirers high quality information to input. The Net-based multimedia computers is one of the most important one among these tools.
According to Krashen, the Net-based multimedia computers should be widely used in English classroom teaching. Because language learning is directly related to the quality and quantity of understanding input which students received, and these input should be a little bit above their understanding but can be comprehensive through inference, Net-based multimedia computers can afford this kind of teaching effective and meet all requirements. And this kind of teaching can bring the whole world into a classroom, building a good situation for second language learning. Under Net-based multimedia teaching mode, little forms and rules are emphasized, but what messages are transport and communicated. Students will pay more attention to what color, flash, sound, pictures, scenario are showed on computer, which help them to touch second language wholly, directly, naturally and realizably.
Above all, learning second language is a complex and hard process, which undergoing consciously in nun-aimed language society environment. And it is also a completed training process of language knowledge, language technique and cross-cultural communicate ability. Study on second Language Acquisition, especially Input Hypothesis and second language teaching are complement each other. Teachers should use second Language Acquisition, especially Input Hypothesis, as guidance in English classroom teaching, so that, they can establish a student-centered dynamic class mode and pay more attention to learners’ internal factors, which can afford learners better language acquire environments. By doing this, researches about Second Language Acquire can play its full function to improve teaching level and step up teaching quality indeed.
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