Krashen, SLA and Yabla
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Welcome to the 5-Week Linguist Show. This week, I want to talk about the five theories, Krashen’s five theories and Yabla. You hear me talk about Yabla a lot because I absolutely love it as a learner, I love it, love it, love it.
And just a quick review of what it is, it’s just a subscription site and they have collections of videos in Spanish, French, Italian, English, Chinese, and I believe German. And essentially it’s a growing collection of videos. Just as many subscription sites are, there’s always something new. And it’s a mix of some that are specific to grammar lessons, especially immersive produced language lessons by Yabla or people that they’ve contracted to do so in the different languages, as well as commercials and documentaries, game shows, music videos. I could go on and on and on and on. And they’re broken up into little bits and there’s a patented player and you can play it slow or fast. You can repeat it. It’s captioned. It’s also subtitled. You can click through words and it’ll give you the definition. It’s pretty amazing.
And in addition to that, into being able to see all this language and culture, there’s also a series of games. I like some more than others. So there’s one where you listen and you pick the missing word. There’s another one where you use space repetition to go through a set of flashcards of chunks of words that were taken from the video vocabulary. It’s called Vocabulary Review. There’s some other ones, Scribe and a couple of other ones, some comprehensive retention questions. I haven’t tried all of them, but the first two I mentioned are my favorite.
Krashen and SLA Theories
So I talk about Dr. Stephen Krashen a lot as well, and it’s my belief that when you understand something really well, you can explain it in a really easy, concise way that can understand it. And I think that he’s done a beautiful job with that, Dr. Krashen. I think that he’s just taken second language acquisition and in his five theories, he tells us pretty much everything we need to know. And I say this without any disrespect to so many other people who contribute wonderful things, but I think on a really practical basis, this research really resonates with me for a reason. And so I always look at it with whatever activity I do when I think about it for broader purposes. I definitely always find myself back at these five theories. So I want to go through them and I want to talk about what these five theories are and how to apply them.
Krashen and SLA: Learning/Acquisition
So the first theory is learning acquisition. So language learning and acquisition are two different things, and they’re both really important. So really we say language is acquired. So when you learned your first language, and I have to be really careful about how I use the word learn, but when you acquired your first language, you did so naturally. You absorbed through authentic input in communication. Through books, through your parents, through real communicative context, through reading, through your schooling, through music, through your worship, whatever that means to you, sports. Learning or the really deliberate things you do. So think of learning the parts of speech or learning vocabulary lists, that kind of thing, exercises.
So I think if you reflect back on what those things mean, you can probably say that your ability to communicate came far more from the language you were authentically involved in, that’s the language that you acquired, as opposed to learning. And I don’t believe in throwing the learning out because as a second language learner, who’s an adult who has some awareness of grammar and you have literacy skills, then you have the power to use those two things together in tandem and that’s where you make fast progress. So Yabla does an amazing job of giving you opportunities to naturally absorb and acquire language through the immersive videos, and they also give you an opportunity to learn through their really focused learning activities.
Krashen and SLA: Input
Input, so the input hypothesis. So we learned from the input that language we acquires comes from input. So in meaningful context and it’s comprehensible, meaning we can understand that’s really important. So that’s really the key to learning/acquiring a foreign language, is understanding comprehensible input. So language that you understand. So Yabla does that for you. They give you all the tools you need to understand the language that’s used in the videos. So it’s perfect.
They also do something else in that, well, it’s visual and audio. There’s also text, and if you can read, you can learn anything. Krashen did a study of two hyperpolyglots and he found that basically one of them never left Hungary and spoke perhaps 15 languages and it was really through doing his pleasure reading. So now we’re really starting to redefine the idea of texts. We have audio and visual text as well and Yabla definitely provides input in that way.
Krashen and SLA: Natural Order
Natural order, so natural order really deals with grammar. So we tend to master some structures in a language earlier than others that are, of course, much more complicated and they kind of don’t vary. That’s the same for all languages. You don’t necessarily master a really complicated one before you master a simple one and we kind of go through stages. So for example, if you’re learning Spanish, to really use accurately gender, which is important, and plural and singular correctly, that takes some time. You might understand that grammar point, but the natural order of things, it’s going to take a while for that to really integrate. And so the grammar is taught completely in context through those videos.
Krashen and SLA: Natural Order
So you’re going to master grammar. It’s going to give you an opportunity to master that grammar really naturally, not necessarily the way you would through a textbook. Though I do really believe in supplementing any type of language acquisition activity you do with outside grammar. You just can’t lead with grammar. So when you get to a point where something grammatically make sense to you, but not 100%, that sort of the time to go to the book and look it up if you think, okay, I get it. Sometimes it’s this way sometimes it’s that way. All right. Why is that? Then that’s going to, when you’re ready to ask that question and you get it, that’s the time to look it up and find out what the quote unquote rule is. Then the input that comes to you, we’ll start making a lot of sense.
Krashen and SLA: Monitor
The next one is the monitor hypothesis, and this is something that you’re going to mostly do on your own outside of Yabla. But I do think that they’ve done some work with providing subscriptions or deals on subscriptions for people to be able to talk with the native speakers. So the monitor hypothesis is keeping track of your communication, or keeping track of really the accuracy of your communication is probably a better way to say it. So some people under-monitor, so they might say whatever just to get their point across and they don’t necessarily pay sufficient attention to using grammar appropriately and they might be misunderstood and it might be hard for them to make corrections later on.
There are people that over-monitor. So they’re so worried about being correct that it can be really difficult to move forward because you’ve got to fail through your mistakes. You have to fail forward in a language. It’s a really uncomfortable concept to get used to, but language learners have to do it. You just have to do it. You have to accept that you’re not going to be very good at this new thing. So it’s a matter of striking that perfect balance, where you’re monitoring yourself enough to be able to move forward, but not too much to where you’re not communicating with people because at the end of the day, that’s what you want to do.
Krashen and SLA: Affective Filter
And the last one is affective filter. So we all have different levels of being introverted and extroverted and we also have that in different contexts. So while you might be very extroverted in your own language, you might find yourself becoming a real introvert when faced with learning a foreign language. So it’s really important to be aware of these things in your personality, because there are definitely advantages to both for language learners.
So if we go back to input and acquisition, you need to really focus on the input. If I were to tell anybody if there were … With your time, my really simple rule of thumb is we have two ears and one mouth. So I listen twice as much as I speak. And we have two eyes and one brain, so I try to read twice as much as I write, and because I’m always getting that new language. So being aware of your personality will help you as you work on expressing yourself. And if you tend to be less outgoing, I would really recommend finding some spaces in your life to practice language that aren’t going to make you feel uncomfortable or intimidated.
I record myself a lot. I use a lot of journaling. I use a lot of fluency journaling, and that’s you write things down and you look up the words that you need later. But really, I like to do that with my phone on voice memos. I like to record myself a lot. I find it easier than writing things out by hand. It really suits my lifestyle. It’s just easier than sitting down and writing, and I have terrible handwriting as well, so it just suits me. And those things will give you the practice before you may be jump in to lessons on Italki hockey or traveling, that you’re giving yourself a chance to work with your personality.
There are other personalities that will jump right in and talk to people. And that’s really good too, because not only are you getting that practice to work through the bugs that we all have, because remember that natural order. We all master certain things early on, and then as we’re intermediates and then as we’re really polished, eloquent speakers later on, none of us are immune to that. We all have to go through those stages. So it can really help you move through those things faster. Plus you get the input, you get a chance to acquire language really naturally the more time you spend communicating with people.
So I wanted to go over those five theories because I think that it’s everything you need to know to learn a language. For full disclosure, as I said, I’m a Yabla affiliate. I’m a really proud Yabla affiliate because I love what they’ve done, that they’re sort of bringing you the chance to get into authentic language and culture regardless of where you are in the world. I actually love sitting down and … All the things that I’ve learned in Italian and in French, I’m so grateful for this really affordable, easy opportunity to do that. So until next time,
Thank you for listening to the 5-Week Linguist Show with Janina Klimas. Join us each week here and visit us at reallifelanguage.com/reallifelanguageblog for more resources for learning and teaching languages.
Meet the amazing Dr. Krashen: https://www.sk.com.br/sk-krash-english.html
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