With reference to relevant theories, describe the difference that applied linguists such as Stephen Krashen have made between ‘acquisition’ and ‘learning’. State how this has influenced the world of English Language Teaching.
In 1970s, Stephen Krashen (1981), an famous expert in the field of linguistics, proposes the Second Language Acquisition Theory. He states that humans become fluent in a language in two ways: by acquiring it or by learning it. Thus, there is a ongoing discussion about whether all people can acquire a second language just like acquire their first language or not. Also, people wonder that which way is the better one to learn a second language, and what is the distinction between learning and acquisition., and also how this theory influences learners and teachers. Therefore, the essay discusses about the difference between second language learning and second language acquisition according Krashen’s theory, which followed by some agreements and arguments given by some other scholars about learning and acquisition. Finally, the influences of the world of English Language Teaching are given at the following part.
According to Krashen’s Second Language Acquisition Theory (1981), there are two different ways for learners to develop competence in a second language. The first one is language acquisition. Acquiring language is a subconscious process (which means that when learners are acquiring something new, they are not aware of the fact that they have acquired already. The only thing they are able to aware of is that they are using the language to communication). On the other hand, language learning refers to conscious knowledge of a second language. Learners focus on the form of language’s “rules” and “grammar”. In Krashen’s opinion, students who are taught in a formal rules will “learn” the language but never acquire it. For example, teachers always control the pace in the classroom, in the other word, it is the teacher-centered model. Teachers usually give the knowledge and tasks to the students. Then teachers can gain some feedback from students, so that teachers can correct them. In addition, Krashen (1982) proposes that error correction is only helpful for learning. Thus it should be avoided if the teachers’ aim is acquisition. Correcting errors is an important way to help the learners know about the grammar and rules clearly in the second language. In the contrast, acquisition focus on the meaning rather than form. Some second language theorists have argued that children can acquire, while adult can only learn. But Krashen claims that both children and adults can acquire language. After Krashen’s book “Second Language Acquisition” was published, Krashen has received many acclaims from other scholars. However, his theory is considered to be “one of the most controversial theoretical perspectives in Second Language Acquisition in the last quarter of the twentieth century” ( Brown, 2000: 277).
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