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
- 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
- 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
Affective Filter hypothesis
- 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
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.
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.
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.