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The input hypothesis, also known as the monitor model, is a group of five hypotheses of second-language acquisition developed by the linguist Stephen Krashen in the 1970s and 1980s. Krashen originally formulated the input hypothesis as just one of the five hypotheses, but over time the term has come to refer to the five hypotheses as a group. The hypotheses are the input hypothesis, the acquisition–learning hypothesis, the monitor hypothesis, the natural order hypothesis and the affective filter hypothesis. The input hypothesis was first published in 1977.
The hypotheses put primary importance on the comprehensible input (CI) that language learners are exposed to. Understanding spoken and written language input is seen as the only mechanism that results in the increase of underlying linguistic competence, and language output is not seen as having any effect on learners' ability. Furthermore, Krashen claimed that linguistic competence is only advanced when language is subconsciously acquired, and that conscious learning cannot be used as a source of spontaneous language production. Finally, learning is seen to be heavily dependent on the mood of the learner, with learning being impaired if the learner is under stress or does not want to learn the language.
Krashen's hypotheses have been influential in language education, particularly in the United States, but have received criticism from some academics. Two of the main criticisms are that the hypotheses are untestable, and that they assume a degree of separation between acquisition and learning that has not been proven to exist.
The five hypotheses that Krashen proposed are as follows:
If i represents previously acquired linguistic competence and extra-linguistic knowledge, the hypothesis claims that we move from i to i+1 by understanding input that contains i+1. Extra-linguistic knowledge includes our knowledge of the world and of the situation, that is, the context. The +1 represents new knowledge or language structures that we should be ready to acquire.
The comprehensible input hypothesis can be restated in terms of the natural order hypothesis. For example, if we acquire the rules of language in a linear order (1, 2, 3...), then i represents the last rule or language form learned, and i+1 is the next structure that should be learned. It must be stressed, however, that just any input is not sufficient; the input received must be comprehensible. According to Krashen, there are three corollaries to his theory.
In modern linguistics, there are many theories as to how humans are able to develop language ability. According to Stephen Krashen's acquisition-learning hypothesis, there are two independent ways in which we develop our linguistic skills: acquisition and learning. This theory is at the core of modern language acquisition theory, and is perhaps the most fundamental of Krashen's theories.
Acquisition of language is a subconscious process of which the individual is not aware. One is unaware of the process as it is happening and, when the new knowledge is acquired, the acquirer generally does not realize that he or she possesses any new knowledge. According to Krashen, both adults and children can subconsciously acquire language, and either written or oral language can be acquired. This process is similar to the process that children undergo when learning their native language. Acquisition requires meaningful interaction in the target language, during which the acquirer is focused on meaning rather than form.
Learning a language, on the other hand, is a conscious process, much like what one experiences in school. New knowledge or language forms are represented consciously in the learner's mind, frequently in the form of language "rules" and "grammar", and the process often involves error correction. Language learning involves formal instruction and, according to Krashen, is less effective than acquisition.
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.
Before the learner produces an utterance, he or she internally scans it for errors, and uses the learned system to make corrections. Self-correction occurs when the learner uses the Monitor to correct a sentence after it is uttered. According to the hypothesis, such self-monitoring and self-correction are the only functions of conscious language learning.
The Monitor model then predicts faster initial progress by adults than children, as adults use this ‘monitor’ when producing L2 (target language) utterances before having acquired the ability for natural performance, and adult learners will input more into conversations earlier than children.
According to Krashen, for the Monitor to be successfully used, three conditions must be met:
There are many difficulties with the use of the monitor, making the monitor rather weak as a language tool.
Due to these difficulties, Krashen recommends using the monitor at times when it does not interfere with communication, such as while writing.
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. This hypothesis was based on the morpheme studies by Dulay and Burt, which found that certain morphemes were predictably learned before others during the course of second-language acquisition.
The affective filter is an impediment to learning or acquisition caused by negative emotional ("affective") responses to one's environment. It is a hypothesis of second-language acquisition theory, and a field of interest in educational psychology.
According to the affective filter hypothesis, certain emotions, such as anxiety, self-doubt, and mere boredom interfere with the process of acquiring a second language. They function as a filter between the speaker and the listener that reduces the amount of language input the listener is able to understand. These negative emotions prevent efficient processing of the language input. The hypothesis further states that the blockage can be reduced by sparking interest, providing low-anxiety environments, and bolstering the learner's self-esteem.
According to Krashen (1982), there are two prime issues that prevent the lowering of the affective filter. The first is not allowing for a silent period (expecting the student to speak before they have received an adequate amount of comprehensible input according to their individual needs). The second is correcting their errors too early-on in the process.
The model has been criticized by some linguists and isn't considered a valid hypothesis for some. It has, however, inspired much research, and many linguists praise its value.
According to Wolfgang Butzkamm & John A. W. Caldwell (2009), comprehensible input, defined by Krashen as understanding messages, is indeed the necessary condition for acquisition, but it is not sufficient. Learners will crack the speech code only if they receive input that is comprehended at two levels. They must not only understand what is meant but also how things are quite literally expressed, i.e. how the different meaning components are put together to produce the message. This is the principle of dual comprehension. In many cases both types of understanding can be conflated into one process, in others not. The German phrase “Wie spät ist es?” is perfectly understood as “What time is it?” However learners need to know more: *How late is it? That’s what the Germans say literally, which gives us the anatomy of the phrase, and the logic behind it. Only now is understanding complete, and we come into full possession of the phrase which can become a recipe for many more sentences, such as “Wie alt ist es?” / “How old is it?” etc. According to Butzkamm & Caldwell (2009:64) “dually comprehended language input is the fuel for our language learning capacities.”  It is both necessary and sufficient.
The theory underlies Krashen and Terrell's comprehension-based language learning methodology known as the natural approach (1983). The Focal Skills approach, first developed in 1988, is also based on the theory. English as a Second Language Podcast was also inspired by Krashen's ideas on providing comprehensible input to language acquirers.