Second Language Acquisition

Second Language Acquisition

Stephen Krashen is  known for introducing various hypotheses related to second-language acquisition, including the acquisition-learning hypothesis, the input hypothesis, the monitor hypothesis, the affective filter, and the natural order hypothesis.

1. We all  acquire language  the same way. 

The process is the same even though you can learn a langauge in a different number of ways. No process is the same for all students but there are things that all students have in common.

2. Silent period is normal.

The silent period hypothesis is the idea that when a language is learned, there should be a period in which the learner is not expected to actively produce any language. Silent period is a normal stage in every language learner, sometimes this period is even more traumatic because students take classes that are way above their level so they see their peers communicating while their confidence gets lower and lower. If you attend to a class that it is tailored for you, you’ll do well.

3. We  acquire  language when  we understand  what  people tell us .

If you say  that you spend days and nights listening to music in English but you don’t understand of word of what you are listening to, sorry but you aren’t doing much. Meaningful input is the input that I can comprehend

4. Talking  is  not  practicing.

This is something that I have been telling to my students in oral communication classes when they do the talking but they don’t want to pay attention to their peers.  The only way to learn new words is by reading and listen the words written and said by others

5. Speaking  is  not the beginning  of language acquisition, it is  the result of comprehensible input.

This is covered in many ways during the presentation, speaking is the result of your hard work learning the language.

6. It  is  not what  you  say but  what the other person says to  you.

Your brain is not made to create language on the go, you need to learn from other. Stop being selfish and be a good listener. if you want to do better, start paying attention to those around you.

7. Speaking is  an  indirect  contribution  to  language acquisition.

Speaking is a indirect contribution because if you are able to communicate with others, it means that you did your homework, I mean you spent a certain amount of time exposing yourself to language in spoken and written ways.

8. Motivated students  do  better in Second Language Acquisition.

Motivation is something difficult to talk about, there are many external factors that influence the desire of a student to improve his linguistic skills. If motivation was something easy to share, the results would be amazing but that’s not the case.

9. Students  with  more self-esteem   do  better  in language  acquisition.

when you meet new students, you will see that there are some students who are not afraid to make mistakes, they can laugh at their own mistakes and understand that making mistakes is part of the life of every language learner. Those students tend to do well in classes.

10. The lower  the anxiety, the better  the  language acquisition.

You might hear that a little bit of anxiety is OK, if you don’t like that ot you think evaluations, homework and presentation are too much, I would suggest taking sometime before taking an English class, there are many plenty of opportunities to learn outside the classroom and that could boost your confidence when you decide to step into an English class for the first time.

11. Students need  to assume  that  they are going to  be  successful.

I think that you need to be positive in all instance but happy and positive thoughts won’t teach how to make sentences in the passive voice, stay positive but do your work

12. There  is  a Language Acquisition Device  in all   of us.

The LAD concept is an instinctive mental capacity which enables an infant to acquire and produce language. It is a component of the nativist theory of language. This theory asserts that humans are born with the instinct or “innate facility” for acquiring language.

13. Don’t  believe   in  torture but  a little anxiety is  OK

One of my favorite statements from the video because not all subjects are supposed to be easy, sometimes you need your teacher to ask for difficult things so you can reach your potential.

What’s the Affective Domain?

The Affective Domain is the emotional side of human behavior. The development of affective states or feelings involves a variety of personality factors, feelings both about ourselves and about others with we come into contact and these have an influence in how well students perform in the language.

Affective Variables in Second Language Acquisition

Affective Variables in Second Language Acquisition research has confirmed that a variety of affective variables relate to success in second language acquisition. Most of those studies place factors into one of these categories:

Self- Steem

Self- Steem reflects a person’s overall subjective emotional evaluation of his or her own worth. It could easily be claimed that no activity could be carried out successfully without some degree of self-steem, self confidence and a belief in your own capabilities. The self-steem that a student has is the result of the accumulation of experiences and from the assessment of the external world around them. We don’t know with certainty if self-steem is the result of the students being able to perform well in the language or if performing well in the language increases or causes the student  to have a  high self-steem.

Another aspect under this category is the student’s willingness to communicate, such unwillingness or lack of initiative to communicate is called shyness by many professional in the teaching field. The second aspect is Inhibition, whichis a feeling of embarrassment that prevents you from saying and doing what you want.  We know that all human beinsg build defenses to protect their ego and this also happens in the ESL Classroom when stundents avoid taking part in certain activities which might make them feel uncomfortable

Students who tend  to do well in languages tend to have a high self-steem, every time they perform well in language, they build their confidence even more. Another feature that can be distinguished in these language learners with high confidence is that they are risk takers, they know that they have to make some mistakes in order to get the desired results.


Anxiety plays a major role in second language acquisition, all learners experience a level of anxiety, we could admit that having anxiety while trying to accomplish tasks that are out of our zone of comfort is quite normal, however, something  that we need to understand is that anxiety can be experienced at different levels. Anxiety at the deepest point is  a permanent predisposition to be anxious. Situations that can increase levels of anxiety are:

  1. Communication apprehension since those students can’t  communicate adequately mature ideas and thoughts in the target language
  2. Fear of negative social evaluation since they feel that they need to give a positive social impressions to their classmtates.
  3. Apprehesion over academic evaluations.


Motivation is another affective variable in second language acquisition. You probably know that it is common to hear that failure and sucess are attributed to the motivation that a person has or lacks.  Such assumptions that we have made are not erroneous since there are many studies that state that motivation is key to learning.

Motivation is an affective variable that it is hard to deal with since every person is different and will be motivated in unique ways. Experts have come to the conclusion that there are different types of motivation that will drive people to do something, such as:

  1. Behavioristic: Anticipation of reward and desire to receive positive reinforcement.
  2. Cognitive:  Driven by human needs
  3. Constructivist: Social Context, Community, social status and security of a groups
  1. Make sure that students are enrolled in the right class with peers with the same level of proficiency.
  2. Try not to put students in situations in which they might be ridiculized if they don’t perform well.
  3. Inform your learners that mistakes and errors are part of every language class.
  4. Avoid giving negative feedback when students don’t perform well

Second Language Acquisition Terms and Authors

Noam Chomsky: He is an American linguist, philosopher, cognitive scientist, historian, social critic, and political activist. Sometimes described as “the father of modern linguistics.”

Second Language Acquisition: the process by which people learn a second language. Second-language acquisition is also the scientific discipline devoted to studying that process.

The input hypothesis: This states that learners progress in their knowledge of the language when they comprehend language input that is slightly more advanced than their current level.

The acquisition–learning hypothesis claims that there is a strict separation between acquisition and learning; acquisition as a purely subconscious process and learning as a conscious process, and claimed that improvement in language ability was only dependent upon acquisition and never on learning.

Monitor Hypothesis: The monitor hypothesis asserts that a learner’s learned system acts as a monitor to what they are producing. In other words, while only the acquired system is able to produce spontaneous speech, the learned system is used to check what is being spoken.

Natural Order Hypothesis: The natural order hypothesis states that all learners acquire a language in roughly the same order. This order is not dependent on the ease with which a particular language feature can be taught; some features, such as third-person “-s” (“he runs”) are easy to teach in a classroom setting, but are not typically acquired until the later stages of language acquisition.

Interlanguage: It is an idiolect that has been developed by a learner of a second language (or L2) which preserves some features of their first language (or L1), and can also overgeneralize some L2 writing and speaking rules.

Language Transfer: This refers to speakers or writers applying knowledge from one language to another language

Universal Grammar: is the theory of the genetic component of the language faculty, usually credited to Noam Chomsky. The basic postulate of UG is that a certain set of structural rules are innate to humans, independent of sensory experience.

Learn more about Second Language Acquisition

Follow on Facebook

You can check our latest articles in any of these pages:

  1. Teaching English in Costa Rica
  3. Aprende Inglés –