Krashen’s Acquisition-Learning Hypothesis

Stephen Krashen’s (1982) Monitor is one of the models of second language acquisition influenced by Chomsky’s theory of first language acquisition (Lightbown & Spada, 2006). Faltis and Hudelson (1998) claim that though Krashen first introduced the Monitor Model in 1977 as a comprehensive theory to explain second language acquisition among adult ESL learners, Krashen, by the mid-1980s, explained and elaborated the theory so as to include children (Krashen, 1985). Krashen had five hypotheses to describe this theory:

a. The acquisition-learning hypothesis

b. The natural order hypothesis

c. The monitor hypothesis

d. The input hypothesis

e. The affective filter hypothesis

a. Acquisition-learning hypothesis: Krashen (1981, 1982, as cited by Richardo-Amato, 2003) distinguished between two different linguistic systems: acquisition and learning. Acquisition is a subconscious process through which children naturally develop language proficiency as they understand language and use it for meaningful communication. Learning is instead a process through which we ‘learn’, by paying conscious attention to forms and rules. Learning a language results in explicit knowledge on the forms and patterns of that language and is a result of formal teaching. However, learning does not lead to acquisition. “Acquired language knowledge is stored in a part of the brain reserved for language, and it serves as the major source of initiating and understanding speech (Faltis & Hudelson, 1998).” According to this hypothesis, children can talk about the language they learn, but it is not necessarily stored in language parts of the brain. Learned language is available only as a means to monitor their output. Since acquisition and learning are two separate entities or ways of developing language abilities, what is learned does not lead to become acquired knowledge, so Krashen focuses on the ways to facilitate language acquisition.


Faltis, C. J., & Hudelson, S. J. (1998). Bilingual education in elementary andsecondary school communities.Boston: Allyn & Bacon.

Lightbown, P. M., & Spada, N. (2006). How languages are learned. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Richard-Amato, P. A. (2003). Making it happen: from interactive to participatory language teaching: theory and practice. New York, NY: Pearson Education.


About Raj Khatri

In addition to providing mentoring services to pre-service ESL/EFL instructors, I have always enjoyed for over 15 years facilitating both adult and K-12 ESL and EAP classes that include international, immigrant and refugee students in a variety of settings across North America and South Asia. The opportunity to work as a TESL Practicum Supervisor at the Department of Linguistics of the University of Victoria has further helped me share with and learn from colleagues and enhance my knowledge and expertise in the field.  I had served as an ESL Instructor III at the University of Regina for two years and a half before joining Camosun College as an ELD Instructor in the fall of 2014. I always appreciate the opportunity I was provided with to facilitate EAP, ESL, LBS and LINC classes in various capacities, including Professor at Centennial College, Instructor at the Toronto Catholic District School Board, Seneca College, and Centennial College in Toronto, and Lecturer at Padma Kanya Multiple Campus (Tribhuvan University affiliated) and Teacher at GEMS in Kathmandu. Awarded the University of Victoria Fellowship (2014) and the Geoffrey & Alix O'Grady Scholarship in Linguistics for Academic Excellence, I am currently working with Dr. Huang on my doctoral studies in linguistics, with a major focus of research in applied linguistics, while still continuing to facilitate EAP classes and supervise TESL practicum students in BC. Before I completed my Special Education program with Honors at Queen’s University in Ontario and got certified to teach in the K-12 public education system as an Ontario College teacher (OCT), as well as to teach adult ESL classes as a TESL Ontario accredited instructor in 2009, I had worked with Dr. Haulman and earned my second Master’s degree in TESL at the University of Central Oklahoma, where I had received the President’s Honor Roll for four consecutive semesters and graduated Summa Cum Laude. I was deeply honored when Brad Henry, then Governor of the State of Oklahoma in the United States, recognized my public input about college safety and public education in 2007 and 2008. Holding the belief that it is important to give back to the community, I have always been engaged in voluntary activities, both in professional and community-related areas and have been enjoying working with people from diverse linguistic and cultural backgrounds. My voluntary services extend from providing support to schools and school libraries and in Nepal to facilitating ESL/EAP classrooms at various settings, including at the Toronto District School Board, the Toronto Catholic District School Board, and Regina Public Schools and supporting voluntary organizations that include the Regina Food Bank, the Salvation Army (Regina), the Regina Green Patch, and Victoria Immigrant and Refugee Centre Society in various capacities. I have been an accredited member of TESL Canada (Professional Standard III Permanent, since 2009), and Ontario College of Teachers (OCT; since 2010), and I hold Saskatchewan Professional 'A' Certificate. As well, as a member, I have been participating in professional development activities at TESOL and BC TEAL since 2007 and 2013 respectively. My areas of research interests are second language reading strategies, second language writing, intercultural communication and classroom practices, and adult ELLs with disabilities. Thank you for visiting! Happy Exploring!
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