MLE 501 - Language Acquisition, Education, and the Discovery of the Human Person ( An Essay)

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MLE 501 - Language Acquisition, Education, and the Discovery of the Human Person ( An Essay)

  1. 1. Philippine Normal University Taft Avenue, Manila College of Languages, Linguistics, and Literature DEPARTMENT OF LINGUISTICS, BILINGUAL EDUCATION, and LITERATURE Language Acquisition, Language Education, and the Discovery of the Human Person In Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements in MLE501 (Foundations of MLE and Language Acquisition) S.Y. 2012-2013 / 2nd Semester Saturday / 2:00 – 5:00 PM Submitted by: Bernard M. Paderes Master of Arts in Linguistics Submitted to: Dr. Melchor A. Tatlonghari Faculty March 2013
  2. 2. Among the many theories that were discussed for the duration of the semester, the one that seems to have provided me a strong bearing is that of Stephen Krashen. His Five Hypotheses spell out the guidelines that language educators should take into consideration in order for language learning and teaching to be effective if not totally successful. Krashen’s first hypothesis, the acquisition-learning hypothesis, provides a clear distinction between language acquisition and language learning. According to him, language acquisition is an unconscious process that children employ in order to acquire a first language. On the other hand, language learning is a conscious one. It happens through formal instruction of forms, rules, and vocabulary words. Likewise, Doughty and Williams (1998 as cited in Murcia, 2006) said that the best way to learn a language is not by studying the structures but by experiencing the language meaningfully through communication. This acquisition-learning dichotomy seems to suggest that if teachers want their student to have a native-like competency in the target language, they should simulate an environment that is similar to the environment of the target language. The second hypothesis states that for language acquisition to take place there should be comprehensible input. In a study done by Ellis (as cited in Nunan, 2010) among 11-13 year old children, he investigated the effects of three-hours of teaching on the ability of children to use wh- questions. He found out that although there is noticeable change, there was still no significant improvement in the use of the structure. He even stated that it was in the quality rather than the quantity of interactions that mattered. If this is so, then language teachers should ensure that the activities and tasks they are going to provide are comprehensible and meaningful. It is through these that language inputs get into the Language Acquisition Device (LAD) successfully.
  3. 3. The third hypothesis is the about the natural order hypothesis which suggests that acquisition of grammatical structures is determined by a predictable “natural order.” Depending on the language being studied, there are structures that are easily acquired at an early age. Such order is independent of the learner’s age, mother language, and conditions of exposure. In addition to this, he points out this natural order does not have any implication on the language syllabus. In fact, he rejects the idea of sequencing grammatical structures if the goal is acquisition. Considering this, language teachers should employ a more natural and communicative approach in planning curriculums or syllabi instead of the traditional grammatical ones. The fourth hypothesis is concerned about the affective side of language learning. Krashen states that the affective side of language acquisition deals with motivation, self- esteem, and anxiety. According to Krashen (as cited in Rounds, 2010), for a successful language acquisition to take when the learner should have a high motivation, high self- esteem, and low anxiety. He illustrates the effect of these variables by stating the concept of what he calls as “affective filter.” According to him having a low motivation, low self- esteem, and high anxiety raises this filter and obstructs language inputs from being absorbed by the LAD. Considering this, language teachers should make sure that the tasks and activities are not only comprehensible and meaningful but also motivating and self- uplifting Lastly, the fifth hypothesis is concerned with language monitoring. Krashen’s first four hypotheses seem to devaluate the role of formal instruction in language learning. However, he points out that while acquisition targets the learner’s fluency in the target language, learning through formal instruction lets the learner to pay attention to accuracy.
  4. 4. This issue of accuracy deals mainly with eliminating errors. Errors used to be taken as something undesirable, but Klassen (______) has began to view errors as “indicators that learning is taking place, evidence that the mysterious LAD is working.” She suggested a number of ways on how to use errors in the teaching of writing such as marking and charting them in order for student to monitor their own weaknesses and even progress. Therefore, language teachers should not view errors as something undesirable and must be immediately eliminated. Instead, teachers should teach their students to view their errors as indicators of how far they have gone through their language journey. In conclusion, Krahsen’s hypotheses have provided language educators an idea on how language could be effectively taught. Through these hypotheses, he has provided comprehensive and empirical evidences for the puzzling LAD. And it is through these continuing studies about the LAD that people will finally References: Celce-Murcia, Marriane. (2006). Teaching English as a second/foreign language. MA: Heinle & Heinle. Nunan, David. (2009). Second language teaching and learning. Pasig: Cengage Learning Asia. Rounds, Mark. (2010, October 15). Stephen Krashen on language acquisition. Retrieved March 12, 2013 from http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NiTsduRreug Scovel, Tom. (2001). Leaning new languages. MA: Heinle and Heinle

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