Carrol, J. M. 1990. Universals and Second Language Learning: Some Comments on
the state of Current Theory. Language Learning. After reviewing Krashen’s hypotheses about acquisition, the following can be summarized as additional remarks or tips that encourageSLA (ibid, 73-78):
1.A desirable goal is that the students forget, in a sense, that the message is actually encoded in another language. This happens when the foreign language input is presented to the learner as naturally as possible.
2. If the topic being discussed or presented is interesting and comprehensible, much of the pressure normally associated with a language class will be off. Consequently, anxiety will be lowered and acquisition will result.
3. Language teachers and students should work collaboratively.
4. Students should be encouraged to talk from the beginning with speaking fluency.
5. Forcing early production, before the student has built up enough competence through comprehensible input, is perhaps the single most anxiety-provoking thing about language classes. While some students may want to talk as soon as possible, others may feel less secure until they have built up more competence.
6. Error correction should not be adopted as a constant teaching strategy. This is so because it encourages a situation in which the student will try to avoid mistakes, avoid difficult constructions, focus less on meaning and more on form. It may disrupt the entire communicative focus on an exchange.
7. Since overuse of correction has such negative effects for acquisition, and since error correction is not of direct benefit to language acquisition, a safe procedure is simply to eliminate error correction entirely in communicative-type activities. Improvement will come without error correction, and may even come more rapidly, since the input will get in, the filter will be lower and students will be off the defensive (ibid).
8. We need to provide our students with enough input so that they can gain the linguistic competence necessary to begin to take advantage of the informal environment, the outside world. In other words, they need to know enough of the second language so that they can understand significant portions of non-classroom language.
9. Give our students the tools they need to overcome difficulties, to make them conversationally competent. By giving them the means of managing conversations, we can help them to continue improving by allowing them to participate in conversation despite their inadequacies.
10. Help our students to converse despite less than perfect linguistic competence. We should build in them the habit of communicative or conversational competence that can help them gain more comprehensible input; devices that help control the quantity of input, and devices that help control the quality. The former will help the acquirer get more input, the latter will help to make the input comprehensible.
11. Briefly stated, for SLA to occur, the input provided by the teacher, teaching program and surrounding environment should be interesting, relevant, communicative, natural and comprehensive.
5. Viewpoints and Criticism
Despite his popularity and fame which lasted for many years starting from 1970s, he has been a figure of much debate and criticism. He was the best-known figure in the field of language teaching with his theory of second-language acquisition.Krashen’s model was influential in the field of SLA and also had a large influence on language teaching, but it left some important processes in SLA unexplained. Subsequent Research in the 1980s and 1990s was characterized by the attempt to fill in these gaps. These included White’s(1989) descriptions of learner competence and Michael Long’s (1983)interaction hypothesis,Merrill Swain’s output hypothesis, and Richard Schmidt’s noticing hypothesis. (VanPatten and Benati, 2010).
Concerning his theory of SLA and optimal input (in particular), there have been a lot of attention and criticisms. These criticisms began a long time ago, almost as soon as his theory began to attract attention. The best summary of these criticisms is from his most persistent critic, McLaughlin (1987) who objects to the learning/acquisition distinction, saying that it is not well defined and that Krashen’s claims based on it cannot be tested. He has similar complaints about comprehensible input and the Input Hypothesis, namely Affective Filter Hypothesis which are described as vague and not capable of predicting linguistic development. The Monitor doesn’t work as Krashen claims, and the Natural Order Hypothesis is defective because of methodological considerations. To him, nothing works right in Krashen’s theory, and there are many examples of other researchers and writers who disagree with Krashen (ibid).
Among them is Gregg (1985, 81)who challenges Krashen to disprove the more widely held proposition that learning can become acquisition. He also attacks Krashen’s failure to adequately define the terms ‘conscious’ and ‘subconscious’ would seem to indicate either an embarrassing oversight or a serious and academically unforgivable lack of attention to key and determining concepts.A more formal way of evaluating Krashen’s theory is provided by Stem (1983).He raises an important question such as: Is the theory useful and applicable? Many teachers would say Yes, emphatically so; many researchers would strongly disagree. He criticized Krashen theory as vague that it really says nothing. According to Wheeler (2003), a damning accusation against Krashen is that his theory is unverifiable.
As mentioned above, there has been strong controversy and criticism among linguists and researchers as regards Krashen’s theory of SLA. Despite its weak points and pitfalls, the theory has gained fame andimportance in the field of language learning and acquisition which cannot be overshadowed or neglected. As for me, l think that the best solution lies in a compromise in which neither pro nor anti attitude should be depended. Despite its pitfalls and weaknesses the theory gave significant contributions to the study and learning of second language which cannot be underestimated.
This paper has provided us with an exposition of SLA from different perspective. At the outset, a distinction has been made between acquisition and learning. SLA has been explained in terms of Krashen’s Theory, namely the Acquisition-Learning Hypothesis,the Monitor Hypothesis, the Natural Order Hypothesis, the Input Hypothesis and the Affective Filter Hypothesis.The most important part of the paper was assigned to characteristics of optimal input and other features that encourage the whole process of SLA. For SLA to occurat its best level, the input provided by the teacher, the surrounding environment and the teaching program should be interesting, relevant, communicative, natural and comprehensive.Last but not least, despite the fame a