Critical Appraisal of Learning Theory and Teaching Method
There are many learning and teaching methods which make the process of second language learning effectively. The research about how these theories of learning and teaching having an effect on second language learning is also discussed frequently. The American linguist Krashen put forward five hypotheses about second language acquisition. In the first part of the portfolio, I will analyse the first hypothesis which is the acquisition-learning hypothesis(Krashen, 1995). Krashen thought the acquisition can promote the developing competence directly in second language instead of learning. In the second part of the portfolio, it will evaluate the Task-based learning(TBL) method which emphasizes the importance of tasks in students second language learning.
2.The acquisition-learning hypothesis
The first hypothesis of Krashen's theory which is the acquisition-learning hypothesis, distinguishes between the processes of language acquisition and language learning. Some people can acquire a language which means they "pick up" a language by the feeling for correctness unconsciously (Krashen, 1995). On the other hand, language learning is a conscious study process of explicit and formal learning in an artificial environment (Krashen, 1995). The most important implication of the acquisition learning hypothesis is considered that learners can acquire the language instead of learning it .
2.1Critical appraisal of the theory
The first controversial topic about Krashen's acquisition-learning hypothesis is that there is not a clear distinction between acquisition and learning. In other words, "whether the process involved in language production resulted from implicit
acquisition or explicit learn is impossible to prove"(Heather,2011). As Barry Mclaughlin gave an example, he feels that the German "Ich habe nicht das kind gesehen." ,which means "I have not seen the children ", is not correct, based on the feeling of correctmess and also based on his knowledge of German grammar rules (Heather, 2011). The example showed that learners do not have the awareness of the language they used is learned or acquired (Harmer, 2007). In other words "whether it was the result of conscious or subconscious processes learners usually won't be able to tell us"(Harmer, 2007:55).
Another problem is that if we confirm the correct expression either in speaking or writing is from acquisition, we can also suspect the expressions whether it is right or not. People can not rely on these kind of sentences which are only from the feeling of correctness and do not base on the grammatical rules.
Furthermore, it also seems to be wrong when Krashen(1995) suggested that the learned language and grammatical rules are useful only when they are used in writing. However, people also need to use well-formed and explicit sentences which follow by grammatical rules in their communication. Moreover, the theory about "adults can assess the same natural 'language acquisition device' that children use"(Krashen, 1995:10) cannot be accepted by some linguists. As Ellis(1990) pointed out that adults cannot acquire the language as easily as children and they often meet some problems in language acquisition. So in Krashen's theory, he mainly emphasize the importance of acquisition and oversimplify the distinction between the learning and acquisition process and also the difference between children and adults in the acquisition process.
Task-based learning focus on he performance of meaningful tasks in the learning process(Harmer, 2007). It gives learners opportunities to use English in class and make the learner to be more actively and creatively in their own learning. The main
part of this approach is to set up a task. Jane Willis(1996) suggested three basic stages, the Pre-task, the Task-cycle and the Language focus. Each of the stage is around the 'task' which is regarded as the process of communicative activities aiming to achieve a specific target.
3.1Critical appraisal of the method
By analysing this approach, we can see that learners communication skill can be improved because learners can talk with others freely so that all the language skills can be improved through communication. There is another advantage of this approach is that it is a kind of student-centered method(Harmer, 2007) and students will be actively involved in the class by doing each of the task step by step. Furthermore, considering the learners' emotional factor, teachers usually give some challenging task, which makes students actively thinking and analysing and it is also a good way to make learning process more effective and not only repeating or practising.
However, the disadvantage of the task-based learning is still obvious. Firstly, the kind of interaction leads students to use the lexis or grammar they are familiar with and also just some specific 'task-solving' linguistic forms. It fails to develop the kind of language we expect from discussion or social interaction of other kinds (Seedhouse,1995).
Moreover, it has difficulty in the situation where teachers have little time in class,they have to give the students the most important words and knowledge as fast as quickly. As a result "teachers have no time to wait until such items are encountered in communicative tasks" (Ur,1996:3).
In conclusion, the acquisition-learning hypothesis and task-based learning do help in learner language learning. While both of them have some drawbacks. In Krashen's
acquisition-learning hypothesis, it cannot denied that acquisition is so important. However, learners cannot always rely on acquisition to improve their language level. And task-based learning give learner a good way to improve their communication skill but it also needs to be well organized to makes students get more benefit from this teaching approach. And analysing the theory and method can give a better understanding either in language learning and teaching.
1.Ellis, R. (1990).Instructed second language acquisition, Oxford, Basil Blackwell
2.Harmer,J. (2007). The Practice of English Language Teaching, 4th edn, Harlow, Pearson Longman
3.Kreshen,S.D. (1995). Principles and Practice in Second Language Acquisition, Hertfordshire, Phoenix ELT.
4.Willis,J. (1996). A Framework for task-based Learning , Harlow, Longman
6.Seedhouse,P. (1999). Task-based interaction, ELT Journal 53/3: 149–55.
7.Ur,P. (1996). A Course in Language Teaching, New York, Cambridge University Press.
1.Heather Marie Kosur 17th5,2011 The Acquisition-Learning Hypothesis. Available from
http://suite101.com/article/the-acquisition-learning-hypothesis-definition-and-criticis m-a371572 [Last accessed 8th 11,2012]