In this paper, we will examine the Natural Order Hypothesis which was first introduced by Stephen Krashen in the late 1970s and 1980s. Krashen proposed the Second Language Acquisition Theory with five hypotheses. The Natural Order Hypothesis is a part of this second language theory. This hypothesis claims that learners of second language acquire the grammatical structures in a predictable way. It includes that some grammatical structures acquired naturally earlier than the others and this synchronization does not affected by the learners’ native language, age or any condition of exposure. Using a case study approach we will observe whether this claim is valid in Bangladeshi context or not. To examine that how the Natural Order Hypothesis works in Bangladeshi context, we have chosen some Bangladeshi people from different ages.
Some the students of first semester and second semester of University of Liberal Arts Bangladesh. We have asked them to answer some certain questions which have added in the last section. This paper is divided into several chapters. The first section of the paper introduces with the five hypotheses of Stephen Krashen’s Theory of Second Language Acquisition. The hypotheses are demonstrated one by one because all the hypotheses are interrelated. This part is concluded with some main points of criticism about the Natural Order Hypothesis. The next section of the paper analyses our examinations about the hypothesis. It includes the Findings and Results of the study. The last section of the paper explains recommendations and conclusion where we have given our opinion.
Krashen’s Theory of Second Language Acquisition
Stephen Krashen’s Theory of Second Language Acquisition is well accepted widely in all areas of second language research and teaching since the 1980s. This theory consists of five hypotheses. These are the Acquisition-Learning Hypothesis, the Monitor Hypothesis, the Natural Order Hypothesis, the Input Hypothesis and the Affective Filter Hypothesis. The explanations of these hypotheses are given below.
The Acquisition-Learning Hypothesis
The Acquisition-Learning Hypothesis states that there are two ways to develop second language proficiency for adult learners. One is ‘acquisition system’ and another one is ‘learned system’. According to Krashen, the ‘acquisition system’ is a subconscious process. In this system, it is claimed that the development of the L2 proficiency goes through naturally. More like the way children acquire their first language. The learners acquire language without knowing about that acquisition is taking place.
The main point is that learners develop proficiency through using language in meaningful conversations where the focus is on meaning not in the rules of language. On the other hand, ‘learned system’ is referred to ‘knowing about’ language. According to Krashen, the ‘learned system’ is a conscious and explicit process. Through this system learners learn about the language as a conscious study of formal instructions. That means the two systems are totally opposite.
Krashen states that acquisition is more important to develop second language proficiency. Learning cannot lead to acquisition. He adds that conscious rule of ‘learned system’ only performs as one function; Monitor or editor. So the error correction occurs in ‘learned system’ which affects in learning language. But error cannot affect in case of acquiring language because in development of L2 proficiency, ‘acquired system’ only gives learner a ‘feel’ of error subconsciously.
To demonstrate the Acquisition- Learning hypothesis, Krashen also denies about Noam Chomsky’s Language Acquisition Device (Device). Chomsky claims that humans are born with the instinct or “innate facility” for acquiring language. There is a ‘black box’ in every person’s brain and it acquires any language before puberty. Krashen disagrees and says that acquisition of second language can also happen after puberty. He further explains that LAD also works for adult but that does not mean that adult will always acquire second language as native speaker. He claims that LAD function also works for adult second language acquisition.
The distinction between ‘acquisition system’ and ‘learned system’ can be seen in the table given below.
The Monitor Hypothesis
Stephen Krashen explains in the Monitor Hypothesis that how acquisition and learning are used in second language performance. This hypothesis holds the theory that utterance in L2 is initiated by the acquired system at first and after that the learned system works if there is any need of changes. Krashen includes that utterance of L2 happens generally through acquired linguistic competence. The role of learned system is work as a Monitor or editor. To use Monitor successfully, Krashen gives three conditions. These are time, focus of form and know the rule. 1. Time: The first condition explains that the acquirer must have enough time to apply the Monitor. The problem regarding this condition is, during normal conversation one cannot look after the time.
If someone tries to use the Monitor he/she will fail to utter in right time or if someone tries to maintain the time he/she will fail to use the Monitor. The important part is that this condition can be applied only in case of advanced acquirers who use Monitor occasionally. 2. Focus on Form: The second condition instructs that the acquirers must focus on form of the language. The acquirers must think about the correctness of the form. But the problem is using Monitor with focusing on form is really tough. To maintain this condition one can lose the track whether he/she will Monitor what he/she is saying or he/she will Monitor how is he/she saying it.
3. Know the rule: The third condition is the acquirer must know the rule of language. It is very difficult condition to maintain because everyone does not know about all the rules. Even the best students may not know all the rules of the language which they are exposed to.
So, these are the three conditions which drive to use Monitor successfully. But later on Krashen has mentioned only about the focus on form and know the rule. He did not mention about the first condition ‘time’.
Acquired knowledge Output
Figure: Model of adult second language performance
On the other hand, Krashen has explained about three individual differences regarding use of the Monitor though the difficulties of three conditions remain dissolved. According to him, there are three types of Monitor users. Monitor over-users, Monitor under- users and the Optimal Monitor users.
1. Monitor over-users: This type of people use the Monitor all the time. They always check their output with the conscious knowledge of the language. Krashen claims two causes for this type of Monitor users. Firstly, they acquire language with the restriction of grammar instruction. Secondly, they may have acquired a good amount of second language but can not trust their acquired competence. That is why they always try check and cover their mistakes by using Monitor. So, they speak hesitantly and try to correct their utterances at the middle of a conversation.
2. Monitor under users: These types of people whether acquire language not learning or they do not prefer to use their conscious knowledge. Actually they do not use the conscious knowledge even when the three conditions are met. The self-correction happen only from a ‘feel’ of correctness.
3. The Optimal Monitor users: The optimal users are the people who apply the Monitor when it is necessary and appropriate. They know how to combine their learned competence with their acquired competence. They never use the grammar rules in their regular conversation because it can interfere in their utterances. This type of users most of the time achieve like the native speaker in writing and planned speech.
The Natural Order Hypothesis:
According to Krashen the Natural Order Hypothesis deals with the grammar structures. The hypothesis explains that grammatical structures are acquired in predictable order. This order does not follow any rules that the easier grammar rule will be at first and then the complex one. It claims that there are some certain grammatical structures which acquired early by the learners of second language acquisition and then the others and it is for any given language. Krashen explains that the claim does not prove as 100% always, but there are some significant similarities. Krashen actually adopted this hypothesis from the study of Dulay and Burt’s study of what they called the order of acquisition of grammatical morphemes in English by five to eight year old children learning English as a second language (1974). They established a chart of morphemes for their study.
So, Krashen adopt the idea of English morphemes and established his Natural Order Hypothesis. Krashen believed that there was no difference regarding the synchronization of the grammar structures. But later on Krashen develops his own idea about the order. He examines the study with both children and adult’s second language and illustrates the natural order of grammar structure according to his point of view.
Table: Average order of second language acquisition in English.
In further description about the Natural Order Hypothesis Krashen explains three facts. * Krashen claims that natural order cannot be changed. Teacher cannot change the order through drills or exercises. If a teacher tries to drill a certain rule for several weeks the result will be zero. Because the acquirer will only acquire language when it is ready to acquire the certain rule. This fact is very much related to the Affective Filter Hypothesis.
* The natural order of grammar structures do not depend on any obvious feature. It can go through complex to easier or easier to complex. Some rules acquired later which are quite simple. On the other hand some rues acquired earlier which seem to be difficult in structures. It shows that curriculum designers might face problem that which one they should put earlier and which one in later.
* The third fact is that the natural order is not the teaching order. So, if someone predicts that through learning the grammar structures he or she will acquire language proficiency, he/she might wrong. Because Krashen applied the Natural Order Hypothesis to extend the idea of ‘the Input Hypothesis’. The Natural Order Hypothesis actually helps to know how the comprehensible input can be acquired one by one. So the learners will acquire the language in a natural order as a result of getting this comprehensible input.
Criticism of Natural Order Hypothesis:
Krashen’s Natural Order Hypothesis faces many criticisms about the predictable natural order in second language learners’ acquisition of grammatical structure. His using of English morphemes as a model also causes criticisms. There are some important criticisms which really force linguists to rethink about Krashen’s Natural Order Hypothesis. These are, * Krashen claims that all L2 learners adopt the same nature of acquiring language to attain proficiency. However there is some individuality between learners. Every learner does not go through the same order of morphemes to learn grammar rules. Some adopts the
-ing form at first and later on go through the other rules step by step. On the other hand some adopts the pronoun case (he/she, his/her etc.) at first. So, Krashen’s hypothesis does not concern about individuality.
* Another criticism explains that all languages do not have the same morphemes. Some languages do not have the function of Copula or definite/indefinite article. So as a result the learners from this type of languages face problem acquiring the morphemes though these are the simplest one. The learners pick up the morpheme according to their first language acquisition. Here, Krashen actually totally overlooked the possibility of the influence of L1 on L2. On the other hand he also ignored the role of negative and positive transferences.
* Krashen claims that his model of natural order works for both adult and children. Critics raised questions about this generalization. That how did Krashen judge it as the both applied natural order for adult and children. Did the judgment was from instrument and task specific? A critic named Larsen-Freeman applied Krashen’s natural order model for both the adult second language learners and children second language learners and she found that the model really works but when she put it in some different tasks using different instruments, she could not found any similarity between adult learners score and children learners score. So, Krashen’s claim proved itself as unreliable because it does not work for every situation.
So these are the criticisms regarding Krashen’s Natural Order Hypothesis. To evaluate our case study we have taken the help of these criticisms and we also found some problems in Bangladeshi context. The evaluation has given in the Analysis part.
The Input Hypothesis:
The Input Hypothesis gives the answer of the question that how we acquire language. Regarding this hypothesis Krashen states that, the learners acquire language by understanding input which is slightly beyond their competence. He also adds that when the learners understand the messages of a language, they acquire language. The main theory of this hypothesis is ‘i+1’. Here ‘i’ is learners’ present competence and ‘i+1’ is the input of the language which can be understood by the learners. Krashen calls this ‘i+1’ as the comprehensible input. He not only states that but also strongly claims that ‘comprehending message’ can help to acquire language and there is no other fundamental process of language acquisition. Another point he claims that listening and reading comprehension are the primary important function of second language acquisition.
There is one important point which should be noted that the Input Hypothesis and the Natural Order Hypothesis are interrelated. These two are combined to answer the question of how we move from one stage to another of acquisition. That means, Natural Order Hypothesis works for analyzing the Input Hypothesis that how learners move from ‘i’ to ‘i+1’. The Natural Order Hypothesis helps to decide that which one should be the comprehensible input or ‘i+1’ in the classroom.
There are two corollaries in the Input Hypothesis. These are, 1. The first corollary is that speaking is not the cause of language fluency but the result of language accuracy. It cannot be taught directly. It is acquired through comprehensible input.
2. The second corollary is, if there is enough amount of comprehensible input the learner will automatically acquire competence from the teacher. There is no need to use grammar structure. That means there is no need to be finely tuned input which means the exact next grammar structure as ‘i+1’. It can also be roughly tuned input, like the nearer structures from the ‘i’.
So, from this hypothesis we can understand that there is no need to use energy in acquiring language. The main important part is just to understand the messages. When we understand the messages of second language, the LAD starts to work. This is how we acquire language.
The Affective Filter Hypothesis:
The Affective Filter Hypothesis describes us that how people face obstacles to acquire second language. It tells us about a filter named ‘affective filter’ which works as an obstacle in the way of acquiring language. The affective filter does not work directly as a barrier but creates a ‘mental block’ in brain which prevents to acquire language. Krashen explains that if the affective filter is down then the comprehensible input reaches to the LAD and acquires competence but if the affective filter is up then the input does not reach to the LAD and acquisition does not happen.
Krashen includes that there are some ‘affective variables’ which control this affective filter. The affective variables include motivation, self-confidence and anxiety. This variables help to acquire second language very easily. But if someone has low motivation, low self-esteem and debilitating anxiety the student will face difficulties to acquire language. Because these low motivation, low self- esteem and anxiety will ‘raise’ his affective filter and form a ‘mental block’ which will become an obstacle to understand the input and acquire language.
So, the Affective Filter Hypothesis helps to determine that why a specific learner faces problem in dealing the comprehensible input though he/she has reached a native- like competence. The main point is one should have motivation, self-confidence and low anxiety if he/she wants to acquire second language. Many critics raised question against Krashen’s Theory of Second Language Acquisition. Some of them are reliable and the rest of them are from anti- Krashenites. From our opinion, though Krashen has applied many statements to prove his theory but the Natural Order Hypothesis really lacks in reliable informations. The hypothesis could not set with our Bangladeshi context. The discussion has given in the next section.