Monday, October 15, 2012

Stephen Krashen in Busan

A couple nights ago, Stephen Krashen came to Busan.  That's pretty big news!  He is one of the foremost people in the  world of Language Acquisition theory.  I'll do a couple of posts about the good stuff he talked about (and any of those who know his theories well/were there at the speech, please feel free to leave a comment if I misunderstood anything).

Basically, he explained that there are 2 ways to learn a language:

1. Acquisition.  This is the "natural" way and happens subconsciously.  It can happen at any age, so you're never too old to learn a language!  If you can speak a language fluently and easily, it's because you've acquired it.

2. Learning.  This is the "conscious" way and is what happens in a classroom.  It deals with grammar rules, etc.

He used to think that a program balanced between the two was the way to go.  However, that's actually not true.  If you learn a language by acquiring it, you'll be able to speak/write fluently and you'll actually be similar to or better than the "learners" in grammar tests.

So how does someone "acquire" a language?  By getting large amounts of comprehensible input, which is at the learner's level, in a light, easy kind of way.  A teacher talking louder, or saying it again if useless if the learner doesn't understand it.  And speaking, especially for beginners is not really necessary.  There is a silent period where learners just take in this input, and eventually, they'll be able to speak in a coherent way.  As teachers, we should encourage speaking, but not force and actually, the most value in speaking is for the partner who gets more input.

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