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  1. 1. Comparative Essay Assignment Stephen Krashen’s and Noam Chomsky’s Theory Names: Tania Contreras Novoa. Katherine Jofre Novoa. Teacher: Iris Roa. Course: Learning and Acquisition of English as a Foreign Language.
  2. 2. There is undeniable influence of the American linguists Stephen Krashen and Noam Chomsky on studies and research related to the acquisition and learning of second languages. Since their major works were published about twenty years ago they are still widely debated in the academic setting. However, what almost everyone has missed is the importance of the notion of these authors in the process of language acquisition. Consequently, this essay will present two assumptions that comprise Stephen Krashen’s and Noam Chomsky’s theories of second language acquisition. It will compare and contrast the point of view of these authors and it will briefly present some examples of each postulate. To start with, all humans are born with the ability for acquiring language, due to the constant interaction with other members of the society. Regarding to this, children are receptive to the common characteristics of all languages, because they are born with a universal grammar. For that reason, at twelve months most infants produce one or two words that everyone recognizes (Spada & Lightbown, 2006). Besides, in Chomsky's view, the innate knowledge is represented by a ''little black box'' in the brain, which is called language acquisition device (Brown, 2007). For instance, a child does not spend its early years repeating words or phrases, but in identifying grammar variations to construct new sentences. In consequence, the child is always forming hypotheses of the input received, and as the child's language develops, those assumptions are constantly corrected, reestablished or sometimes removed (Brown, 2007). Hence the process of language acquisition depends on the contact that the speaker has with the environment, due to the fact that infants develop the capacity to understand language and they expand this innate ability through time. At the same time, Krashen illustrates that language acquisition is a subconscious process that does not require use of grammatical rules (Lingtechguistics, 2009). Related to this, children are not concentrated in the structure of their sentences, but in the communicative perform. A particular example of this process could be the acquisition of Spanish as a second language, where the syntactic order of a sentence includes the noun followed by the adjective, while English speakers pronounce the adjective before the noun. However, even these differences in grammar or syntax could be ignored by the learner, because they will understand them as a normal component of the language to which they are becoming exposed (Krashen, 2009). As a result, Krashen’s model is compare with the acquisition of a first language, which includes factors such as motivation, self-confidence and low level of anxiety that contribute to the learner success. Thus Stephen Krashen's theory is very similar to Chomsky's assumption in terms of language acquisition, in view of the fact that these authors propose that language is naturally obtained.
  3. 3. In contrast, for Krashen adults should acquire a second language in a natural order. In the first place, learners of a second language usually acquire some grammar rules before and the other grammatical structures later, because they follow a common pattern. Besides, the order of acquisition is parallel to the difficulty’s level (Krashen, 2009). For instance, the result of a longitudinal research of the language growth made by Brown (2007) and his colleagues and students, shows that the present progressive ing and the plural s are the first morphemes acquired, meanwhile the third person singular simple present s and the auxiliary be are the final morphemes acquired by children (Spada & Lightbown, 2006). Notwithstanding, the sequence of acquisition of a second language is different from the first language order (Krashen, 2009). However, in order to acquire a second language successfully teachers should teach the L2 by following this innateness way of acquisition (Robinson, 2013). Therefore, there is certain order in the acquisition of a language, even though each language has different sequence of acquisition. At the opposite pole, for Chomsky there is a Critical Period to acquire a language. Animals and humans can acquire diverse sorts of knowledge and skills at certain times in life, because they are biologically organized. It refers to a period of language’s growth in which is possible to acquire completely a language. In the case of adults, who are beyond these critical period it is difficult or even impossible to acquire the competences in the language (Spada & Lightbown, 2006). For instance, if an adult that has passed the critical period travelled to another country and is immerse in the culture, he or she will surely acquire the language, because she/he is completely involve with the environment and has had the opportunity to practice and to develop her/his speaking skill. According to this example, the hypothesis states that many factors have influenced the language acquisition process. Then, according to this assumption language should be acquire in infancy or adolescence, but no beyond these stages. For that reason, Chomsky's and Krashen’s assumptions differed in terms of the stages in which the language is acquired by the speaker. Taking everything into account, the process of acquisition and learning languages are relating with each other, because both authors mentioned that language is only human and is the first way of communication that every child learnt. Chomsky claims that language is innate and every human being born with the ability to communicate, even though the success of the language acquisition depends on the interaction that the child has with the environment (Spada & Lightbown, 2006). At the same time, Krashen notes that language is a subconscious process and is obtained in a natural way, due to the fact that grammatical structures are genetically fixed through the exposure to the language (Krashen, 2009). As a consequence, Krashen and Chomsky hypothesis are focused in the communicative method, considering that the point of discussion of these linguists is the way in which an infant acquired and
  4. 4. learned a language. Thus, Krashen’s and Chomsky’s hypothesis are very useful in terms of teaching process, because both authors mentioned several factors, such as the age of the speaker, motivation and self confidence that must be considered at the moment of acquiring language.
  5. 5. References Brown, H. (2007). Principles of language learning and teaching (Fifth edition ed.). Pearson education. Krashen, S. D. (2009, July). Principles and practice in language acquisition. Retrieved April 12, 2014, from Lingtechguistics. (2009, February 5). Motivation and Learning theories for SLA through Chomsky, Bandura, Vygotsky, Krashen, and Gardner. Retrieved April 12, 2014, from theories-for-sla-through-chomsky-bandura-vygotsky-krashen-and-gardner/ Robinson, P. (2013). The Routledge Encyclopedia of Second Language Acquisition. (P. Robinson, Ed.) Retrieved April 12, 2014, from der+hypothesis+krashen&hl=es&sa=X&ei=UClPU4iTI- T40gG0zYFI&ved=0CDYQ6AEwATgK#v=onepage&q=the%20natural%20order %20hypothesis%20krashen&f=false Spada, N., & Lightbown, P. (2006). Language learning in early childhood. In N. Spada, & P. Lightbown, How languages are learned. Oxford University Press.