Steven Krashen (Oxford University Press)
“Technology is a useful tool if used to create and enhance comprehensible input, a derailment if used to overemphasize conscious learning.”
Emiritus Professor of Education at the University of Southern California, well-known with his Monitor Model of second language acquisition, Krashen was with us at Yildiz technical University 1st ELT Symposium.
Technology is an extremely useful tool if it is used in ways consistent with the Comprehension Hypothesis. Krashen recommended the articles he shares with the visitors on his website. Besides, he also says that he has a twitter account and he is on twitter. He said that Twitter and facebook are underground ways of getting information for scientific researches.
Krashen’s talk was mainly on the Comprehension Hypothesis. The Comprehension Hypothesis says that the so-called skills, vocabulary, grammar, all those things are the result of language acquisition. On the other hand, the rival hypothesis, the skill building hypothesis, argues that the skills come first. The skill building hypothesis is delayed gratification. However, the Comprehension hypothesis is immediate gratification. He advised us to listen to good conversations, read books, have fun, watch good movies and have a good time. The more you enjoy it, the better your acquisition will be. To him, the winner of the game between these two hypotheses is always the comprehensible input. He said that skill building is not a hypothesis, it is an axiom. Krashen added that the people who read a lot always wins. He mentioned that especially the reading we have done just before sleeping help acquisition a lot as it is done without obligation, voluntarily.He supported his speech by the researches done for the last 25 years. According to these researches, free voluntary reading is the source of reading ability, writing ability, a lot of vocabulary. He told us that grammar is too complicated. It is not possible to know all the rules. If you give enough input the grammar can be given . We don’t have to give specific input. The input should be comprehensible and interesting. Krashen shared some real examples that these people acquire another language by listening and integrating to social groups.
Krashen added that the books should be self-selected. The study shows that good readers are narrow readers. They stick to one genre at a time and one author at a time. He also gave a clue that if we start reading from the beginning, we can understand things easily. Steven Krashen argues that English for Specific Purposes does not work.
He also told us the contribution of technology to acquisition. It is in tune with comprehensible input. Kids are reading from the computer and today Website reading is increasing. Besides, personal writing takes place by computers. Thanks to facebook that teenagers write a lot than past. The more the kids are on the Net, the more they read. This means that more literacy developed. To him, chatting is a kind of narrow reading.
Thanks to Krashen for his valuable contributions to the symposium. I realise that we should spare at least 10 minutes in class to read for fun with my students, not for any grades, just for fun!
Gülnur Sahin for British Council Roving Reporters Team