Krashen’s Hypothesis (on language acquisition) and what I think is it’s relationship to the difficulties present in Autism

This is in fact a group of 5 hypothesis (sorry about that), that were formulated by Stephen Krashen in the 1970’s and 80’s. These are to do with Second Language Acquisition and Educational Psychology. This is rather in depth and technical at times so your going to have to bear with me on this one. It’s an important theory that I have just come across due to it being promoted by Luca Lampariello. He is a Italian polyglot and teaches languages for a living.

The 5 hypothesis are as follows,

  • The Input hypothesis
  • The Acquisition Learning hypothesis
  • The Monitor hypothesis
  • The Natural Order hypothesis
  • The Affective Filter hypothesis
  • Input hypothesis

  • This says that you learn best when the language you are exposed to is slightly above your current level so you can understand it but it requires growth to properly comprehend it. You therefore need what is termed Comprehensible Input.
  • There are some corollaries or additions to this which I will now explain.
    1. Only practising talking, means that while you will be able to communicate, you will not necessarily be able to write as it is writing that encodes language into our brains far stronger than any other message. Hence when we need to remember something we write it down.
      When you have enough reading material of an appropriate level or Comprehensible Input you will learn grammar far better than through direct grammar teaching. This has been proven by the famous Hungarian polyglot Kato Lund but also by the Canadian Ling Q founder (language app) and noted polyglot Steve Kaufman.
      The way you are taught in a classroom is quite often different to how you learn naturally so a gap becomes apparent which results in lopsided learning that isn’t particularly useful. Any one who remembers there high school french classes can probably attest to learning innumerable things to pass tests but nothing useful that you could actually use in a real life situation.
  • Acquisition Learning hypothesis

  • It says that in the Acquisition Phase you acquire language simply by being around others that are practising a language. This is a subconscious process so you are not aware you are actually learning anything. If the language you are absorbing is above what you are currently able to comprehend ie it’s not Comprehensible Input; it will sit there until you have sufficient knowledge to be able to use it. Also see the explanation of Natural Order Hypothesis 2 headings below.
  • The Learning Phase is conscious awareness of learning and it’s when you are taught in a formal manner. It is the learning of rules and the framework that enables you to construct language in an appropriate way. It can seem quite abstract initially with just an outline. This is essential however as we will see in the next paragraph.
  • The difference between the 2 is important because the Acquisition Phase is much easier and more natural as it’s how you learned your first language. However when we get older we tend to use the Learning Phase for Second Language Acquisition. So this means, we struggle to gain adequate knowledge in order to make our wants and needs known. This discourages us from learning; as we feel we have regressed to an early stage of childhood. When we had to cry to get attention since we didn’t have the linguistic means to say anything.
  • It also showcases the fact that if you learn through Acquisition you will speak like those around you which may not be grammatically correct and could include a lot of slang. This will make it harder for you to learn other languages as you are unaware of the underpinnings of your own language. If you Learn it’s more likely to be grammatically correct and without slang but you will most likely sound very unnatural and robotic. This grounding however will make it easier to learn other languages as you already have a linguistic structure in place.
  • Monitor hypothesis

  • This says we use our existing language base to correct ourselves hence we say something incorrectly “….” and then realise what we were supposed to say and say this “….” is what we actually meant. This means that in theory adults are better than children as they have built up more of a base but it also explains why children are happy making mistakes. They are generally unaware they are doing so.
  • The difficulties inherent in using the Monitor will now be explained.
    • As the Monitor (think of a computer scanning your speech before you say it), requires you to analyse form (grammar and syntax) and meaning (semantics) at the same time; this can result in conversation slowing to a crawl or even completely stopping while the conversation is digested. I’m certainly one of these people. I think a lot of autistics are also prone to it. This is perhaps why autistics talk in such a strange way. We understand the grammatical rules but not the meaning because that often morphs to fit the situation. This affects not only our first language but any others we may learn. This is how you can come across people who while having been born and bred in the UK; prefer and sometimes even move to where they can speak French (Daniel Tamnet autistic polyglot with Savant syndrome), Greek (occasionally myself), or any other language including made up ones like Klingon or Elvish (many introverted geeky people).
      When Writing you often have all of the time in the world, so you can utilise your vocabulary to its full extent. This ability is enabled as you have no outside influences competing for your attention. This shows itself frequently in that autistics often prefer to communicate in written form as opposed to verbally like the rest of the world. This can be electronically in the form of instant messaging, email, blogging see an example here – How to have a basic conversation in Greek with common phrases or in older times writing letters, poetry, or even a book! See examples here My author page.
      As a result of this, while we (Autistics) may Know the Rules; we don’t don’t have sufficient processing time in conversations. We will therefore resort to talking about topics we know about without us requiring to consciously think about them. We don’t want to slow you down but we simply cannot listen and reply at the rate you do.Language variation.
  • From what I’ve seen of Neurotypical (anyone who doesn’t have Autism) conversations; it involves lots of talking, not a lot of listening and a lot of forgetting so you can say the same things repeatedly and nobody minds as they were never paying attention on any of the previous occasions anyway. So inefficient and illogical as it wastes so much time and effort.

    • We are more than linguistically capable of holding a conversation. Maybe even more so than yourselves, as you’ve never needed to prove yourself. As we struggle for the correct words to respond appropriately, we appear immature and tend to get treated as children with patronising and condescending comments. We (I) have very good hearing as these are usually whispered or muttered under the breath in an attempt to discreetly “badmouth” us. These are also delivered in tones that while are acceptable when you are still a chronological child, become infuriating when you get older both chronologically and mentally. The problem is the more you stay with people your comfortable with (because they induce less panic and anxiety), the more they want you to stay the same so you don’t grow. This is why we leave our parents. Otherwise we probably never would.
      Since so much of communication can’t be learned from a book, Autistics struggle greatly with this. Which is why you will frequently see us talking with our hands when we can’t get the words out quick enough. If Italians, Greeks etc can get away with it, why not other cultures like English too?
  • Natural Order hypothesis

  • This says that while we all learn at more or less the same speed; the time it takes for us to be able show this knowledge in an adequate scenario varies greatly so it seems that others learn much quicker.
  • Affective Filter hypothesis

  • This says that the learner receives too much negative impact from their environment and this impedes their ability to communicate. Their emotions and mood interfere with their processing capabilities. This is brought on by anxiety, low self esteem or boredom due to lack of interest. Carrying on from the Monitor hypothesis this sounds like Autism 101 or a basic introduction to Autism in case your unfamiliar with that terminology. Our affective filters or “emotional states” are always up if we are distressed and nothing gets through them as there like the most impenetrable firewalls you have ever come across. For an example of this in action see here Brain, Mouth and Me.
  • According to Krashen the filter/(force field etc) struggles to come down
    1. If your expected to speak too soon therefore not allowing enough silence for information gathering and processing (all the time in pretty much every conversation ever) and
      Your corrected too soon (yes this is me totally with so much baggage from my childhood it’s unreal).
  • Reading about all of these hypothesis makes total sense to me as I have been struggling a lot with my language skills recently. I have also been wondering why I cannot perform when I have the necessary prerequisites to do so. Hopefully the blocks have now been removed since they have been discovered.

  • Additions and Critique

    Additions

    According to Wolfgang Butzkamm (linguistics professor) and John A Caldwell (2009), while you need comprehensible input to understand the language around you, you also require dual comprehension. This means that you need to understand what something literally translates to as well as what they are actually asking you. This happens so often to me in English, Greek etc and I’m pretty sure this is another facet of Autism. We get the words but not the meaning hence our literal sense of humour. It’s witty and intelligent as it involves wordplay but deviate from the established standards and were lost.

    Critique

    The above hypothesis are critiqued by some (but Wikipedia is unable to say who Grrr) for saying that there is a gap between acquisition and learning – the acquisition learning hypothesis but as this not an area that can be proven it is left in the air so to speak. I know there is this gap because I can acquire language but it does not necessarily mean I have learnt it. It’s like saying memorisation and learning are the same thing. Just because you can repeat something does not mean you can use or make use of it.

    Conclusion

    I like the idea that language learning is heavily dependent on the mood of the learner and other factors like intelligence, memory etc are nowhere near as important. If a learner is under some kind of stress than the learning will be impaired just like if they are unwilling to learn in the first place. This shows that the environment that a learner is placed in, subject to and how it affects them is more important than any other factor when it comes to language learning.

    How to talk to Autistics

    How to educate Autistics

    How to learn Greek

    How to improve your Greek

    How to learn any language

    Greek life

    A Life of Halcyon Days

    Best wishes

    Angela

    Comments

    4 comments on “Krashen’s Hypothesis (on language acquisition) and what I think is it’s relationship to the difficulties present in Autism”
    1. This is not a blog, but an article, the kind I search for in WordPress.

      Thank you for making the connection (likes/follow) that led me to this article.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Thankyou for commenting. I do occasionally write at length on here about monetizing your blog, politics and it’s connections to Eurovision, Brexit and religion.

        Like

    2. Thank you for the fascinating article. I’m bilingual but was observing just the other day to my wife that I prefer the written word to the oral one, especially in English. After reading this post, I realize that’s because I can take my sweet time composing the words just the way I like them, and edit them as many times as I wish. Perhaps I’m more autistic than I realized 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      1. There is a spectrum that everyone exists on from completely autistic to not autistic at all and you will be somewhere on it. It’s helpful to remember that there is such a broad variety in human cognition not just the accepted neurotypical (non neurodiverse) outlook on life.

        Liked by 1 person

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