Nurture And Age In Second Language Acquisition English Language Essay

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In this essay I am going to talk about explicit learning. I will begin the assignment with Stephen Krashen views, the five hypotheses who claims that the ability to use an L2 spontaneously results from unconscious knowledge which is only acquired through exposure to samples of the target language in normal communicative contexts. The question, how important explicit - conscious learning is, in the development of the ability to use an L2 spontaneously is going to be discussed according studies and evidences either in the module or in my reading.

Learning is according to Krashen (1985:1) a 'conscious process that results in knowing about language, where explicitly acquired knowledge tends to remain explicit while explicitly learned knowledge can become implicit in the sense that learners can lose awareness of its structure over time and learners can become aware of the structure of implicit knowledge when attempting to access it, for example for applying it to a new context or for conveying it verbally to somebody else.'

Five hypothesis of Krashen are going to be discussed in the following paragraphs:

Let us begin with the first one which is 'Acquisition Learning Hypothesis' and says 'that 'acquisition' is a subconscious process identical in all important ways to the process children utilize in acquiring their first language, while 'learning' is a conscious process that results in 'knowing about'.' 'However, L2 learners can develop another type of knowledge that comes from being instructed, is from reading grammars.' Hawkins, R. (2012: Session 8).

The second hypothesis of Krashen says that 'there is a natural order in which knowledge of the L2 develops; he believes that explicit learning is actually not used by L2 learners to develop unconscious mental representations that underlie performance. That Hypothesis is called 'Natural Order Hypothesis' where there is unconscious learning of language'.

Moreover, 'Monitor Hypothesis' claims that 'learning conscious knowledge serves only an editor, or Monitor and that learners appeal to learning to make corrections, to change the output of the acquired system, before learn speaking and writing.' As it is mentioned in order to use the monitor two facts should be taken in an account; the first one that the performance must be consciously concerned about correctness and the second that learner must know the rule. Krashen's hypothesis also says that 'learned linguistic knowledge can never turn into acquired linguistic knowledge - the latter can only be acquired from encounters with samples of the target language in communicatively meaningful situations. In the handouts of Hawkins, R. (2012: Session 8) there is an evidence for monitoring, which shows that in planned tasks, where speakers are likely to be concerned about correctness of form, they use their learned knowledge to monitor the output of acquired knowledge.'

In addition, 'Input Hypothesis' claims that 'input is understood and there is enough of it, the necessary grammar is automatically provided and that speaking is a result of acquisition and not is cause. Speech cannot be taught directly, but 'emerges' on its own as a result of building competence. Also, it supports that learners are able to understand language containing unacquired grammar with the help of context which may includes extra linguistic information. This theory ends with the view that learner's knowledge of the world, and previously acquired linguistic competences; for example the caretaker provides extra linguistic context by limiting speech to the child to be here and now as well as the beginning Language teacher provides context via visual and discussion of familiar topics.' Krashen, S. D. (1995:1 - 2).

The last hypothesis of Krashen is the 'Affective filter Hypothesis' which says that comprehensible input and necessary for acquisition, however it not sufficient. The acquirer needs to be 'open' to the input' since 'affective filter' is a mental block that prevents acquires from fully utilizing the comprehensible input they receive for language acquisition; for example when the learner is 'up' there are more chances to understand what he / she listens or reads in a comparison with when he / she is not motivated and there is a lack of self - confidence. Krashen, S. D. (1995:3)

As we can see from the five hypotheses of Krashen, he actually believes that explicit knowledge does not play any role in the development of this kind of acquired knowledge, although consciously learned knowledge might be used by L2 speakers to monitor their speech in certain contexts.

Now, let us move to variety of evidences, by different researches which show whether explicit learning is important to develop L2 spontaneously or not.

On the one hand, there is an evidence which is described by Krashen, S. D. (1995:5) where, Gross reports that '72% of children's input related to the 'here and now', 55% referred to a child's previously expressed topic, 6% consisted of one - word utterances, 8 % was 'simple stock phrases' and only 2% was 'unintelligence'. Important is the fact that according to this study Gross found that were less than two maternal utterances between conversational turns, the children contributing nearly as much to the conversation as did the mother and he is concluding with the view that given enough comprehensible input, the necessary grammar is covered in sufficient quantity.' Another one view is that 'The Input Hypothesis does not predict that 'simplified' caretaker speech is necessary for acquisition. It predicts that simplified speech will be helpful when it provides the acquirer with i +1 in a context that makes the message comprehensible.' Krashen, S. D. (1995:8). In the same way also second language teachers and foreigner talk influence young learners L2 learning.

On the other hand, there is evidence which describes that this input, explicit learning can develop the use of L2 spontaneously, is discussed in Krashen, S. D. (1995:11) and says that 'Rodriquez' success in acquiring English was probably the result of his receiving comprehensible input. He tried to develop his knowledge about L2 by reading books, having extra tutorials at the end of the school day for a year, provide lessons as well as from his English speaking friends in the neighborhood.'

Moreover, as it is cited in Krashen, S. D. (1995:14), Long (1983), believes that explicit learning is important while as he says the lack of access to comprehensible input has just bad effects in the learner, acquisition is actually severely delayed. For example, hearing children of deaf parents with little exposure to comprehensible input show severe delay but typically catch up with other children when comprehensible input is made available to them. However, there are also cases of hearing children of deaf parents who had more interactions with hearing adults do not show this kind of delay. Another study of Long (1983) citied in Hawkins, R. (2012: Session 8), found that 6/11 review studies had faster development in learners who had received instruction than in learners who had not. All those show that explicit learning is important and necessary in order to develop the use of L2 spontaneously and acquire L2.

Here we can mention that the importance of explicit learning differ between young and old learners because each one learns a different way; for instance older learners acquire faster than youngest children do since they progress more quickly in early stages, while younger acquirers do better in the long run since of their lower affective filters.

Furthermore, in Second Language Learning theories of Mitchell, R. and Myles, F. (1998:127) mention that 'there are many cases of L2 learners who have failed to progress beyond fossilized and deviant interlanguage at least as far as their own production is concerned, despite abundant meaning - oriented input. An example is discussed in this section which says that in Canada in recent decades many English L1 students have received French - medium education, in so - called immersion programmes. These students according to what is written have been exposed to large amounts of French communicative input, in the school setting. Their progress has been extensively researched, and in some respects these immersions students make very good progress. Thus shows that many of these students seem to 'fossilize' as far as spoken French is concerned that is, they fail to achieve productive control of many aspects of French grammar and lexis.'

Lastly, is a group of studies by White and colleagues who have focused on the acquisition by French L1 children learning English as L2 rules to do with adverb placement. At various times, different groups of classroom learners received either explicit instruction about the placement of adverbs or a so - called 'flood' of positive on adverb placement. The results show that perhaps some mix of both positive and negative evidence may be required to ensure effective acquisition: 'An incorporation of attention to structure within the context of the flood may well have to led to greater success.' This study was done by White and Trahey 1996 and is cited in Mitchell, R. and Myles, F. (1998:143 - 145).

They also suggest as Hawkins, R. (2012: Session 8) says that 'in principle there ought to be no difference in the learning mechanisms that are assumed for foreign language learning and second language acquisition; for instance naturalistic exposure as well as that it looks like that explicit instruction leads to faster acquisition of the English syntactic rule than simple exposure to samples of languages; while instructed group had strong preference for the English location over the French location and flood group allows the French and English locations equally.

Moreover, there are five factors that influence the effectiveness of explicit learning according to Ellis, R. (1988:143), ZPD, age, motivation, personality and environment. In conclusion, important to remember is that 'one of the assumptions of single - factor models such as Sharwood - Smith's is that as explicit knowledge becomes automatised so it transform into implicit knowledge, not is it perfectly possible to talk about explicit knowledge that has been automatised to a greater or lesser degree; for instance the learner remains conscious of what rule he is using but is able to process it rapidly without undue effort. ' Ellis, R. (1988:153)

To sum up, in this assignment, I have told about explicit learning and the five hypotheses of Stephen Krashen. Generally speaking, the five hypothesis of Krashen talk about 'comprehension input and that it is the essential ingredient for second language acquisition. All other factors thought to encourage or cause second- language acquisition work only when they contribute to comprehensible input and / or a low affective filter, which means that only if the affective filter is low enough people can acquire second languages.' Krashen, S. D. (1995:4). After that, studies and evidences which show either that explicit learning is important or not in the development of the ability to use L2 spontaneously have been discussed. In the end, we rich in the conclusion that although Krashen believes that explicit learning does not play any role of the use of L2 spontaneously there are some studies and evidences which support and show the opposite.


Ellis, R. (1988). Classroom second language development. Hemel Hempstead: Prentice Hall,

Krashen, S. D. (1995). The input hypothesis. London: Longman

Mitchell, R. and Myles, F. (1998). Second language learning theories. London: Arnold,