The #1……(thing we know about learning languages)

Number One** Not your ordinary, endless list – just what’s number 1.

The more comprehensible input, the more learning

Today, I was going through my Gass and Selinker , Second Language Acquisition book. What astounded me was one word that kept appearing across all sections — “hypothesis”. Seems like every darn thing in our field is just an “hypothesis”, just a grasping at straws and a supposition, a guess. Nobody knows too much about this wide and new field of language learning!

However, amid the dust storm and darkness there is light. We do know one thing with certainty. If a student is exposed to a large amount of comprehensible language input – they will learn language! Put students in a situation where they have to figure out the language but still have a small toehold to hang onto — they will learn. Do it a lot and they will learn a lot.

All the rest, mere hypothesis, conjecture and stutterings. So mind this when you are teaching. Keep it simple, keep it clear and give students language they can understand to learn the language you want them to understand. You’ll get them learning. That’s all we can do until they solve some of these hypothesis. FYI, here’s a quick list of hypothesis off the top of my head.

1. Critical Period Hypothesis
2. Fundamental Period Hypothesis
3. Natural Order Hypothesis
4. Contrastive Analysis Hypothesis
5. Affective Filter Hypothesis
6. Identity Hypothesis
7. Interaction Hypothesis
8. Sensitive Period Hypothesis
9. please add your own…..

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Teacher trainer, technology specialist, educational thinker...creator of EFL Classroom 2.0, a social networking site for thousands of EFL / ESL teachers and students around the world.

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