On Teaching Foreign Languages: Linking Theory to Practice

By Marcela T. Ruiz-Funes | Go to book overview

4

Why Use the Target Language in Class?

The role of input in the learning-acquisition process has been emphasized by numerous researchers (Ervin-Tripp, 1974; Krashen 1985, 1987; Gass, 1988; Heilenman and Kaplan, 1985; Lee, 1987; Lightbown, 1985; LoCoco, 1987; Long, 1991; McLaughlin, 1990; Schmidt, 1990; VanPatten, 1996; and White, 1989). N. Chomsky's (1965) language acquisition device (LAD), S. Krashen's (1985) input hypothesis, B. VanPatten and T. Cadierno (1993) and B. VanPatten's (1996) input processing, and T. D. Terrell's (1982) natural approach are some of the major theories and/or approaches that have shown that L2 students learn and acquire an L2 quickly and successfully when exposed to meaningful input. VanPatten (1996, p. 5) cites researchers who have contributed considerably to our understanding of the role on input in L2 learning and acquisition:

The input hypothesis claims that humans acquire language in only one way—by understanding messages, or by receiving “comprehensible input.” (Krashen, 1985, p. 2)

All cases of successful first and second language acquisition are characterized by the availability of comprehensible input. (Larsen-Freeman and Long, 1991, p. 142)

It is self-evident that L2 acquisition can only take place when the learner has access to input in the L2. This input may come in written or spoken form. In the case of spoken input, it may occur in the context of interaction (i.e., the learner's attempts to converse with a native speaker, a teacher, or another learner) or in the con-

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