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Language Acquisition Models Comparison


First language is usually learnt during child development and is normally related to the environment in which a child is raised. This is quite different from the way a second language is learnt, within four years of a child’s development, it is highly expected that the language will have been fully acquired. Theorists describe children’s learning of first language as simple and one that occurs rapidly, usually starting with simple words, monosyllabic, and associated with the family. On the contrary, learning a second language is quite different in both children and adults. What is quite common in children is the way they acquire one or more languages, this is mostly learnt through their interactions with the environment and other people. It occurs naturally by listening and practicing. However, this is not same with adults, who have to study the second language in classrooms, and therefore takes time. Various models have been proposed to explain the concepts of language acquisition, among those are Krashen’s monitor model and the communicative competence model. This paper seeks to compare the two models as well as explore their instructional implications to second language learners (Gass & Selinker, 2008, pp. 434-475).

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Comparison of Krashen’s Monitor model to Communicative competence model

Krashen proposed various hypotheses that are used in acquiring a secondary language. Communicative competence model, on the other hand, emphasizes on grammatical knowledge and social aspect of the language. The table below gives a comparative analysis of the models.

Krashen Monitor Model Similarities Communicative competence model
According to Krashen, second language acquisition is a process that is subconscious and links it to natural approach where, acquisition is incidental, and implicit, like when a child acquires the first language. Krashen also posits that there is a difference between learning and acquisition (Gass & Selinker, 2008, pp. 14-126).
In his Hypotheses, he states that Input is vital in acquisition of a new language and works when the learners get input that is beyond their competence level for the second language. He follows the innate concept of universal grammar, instead of SLA. Moreover, he acknowledges that when a learner experiences anxiety during the process of receiving input, acquisition stops; this happens because, according to his hypothesis on the concept, uptake of the input is halted since knowledge is filtered.
Krishen also posits that monitoring forms an integral part of language processing, and is important in checking and adjusting for language accuracy.
The basic feature are based o the two elements, acquisition and learning. The former is used in informal places, is attitude dependant, implicit and there is no rule in grammatical use. This is the opposite of Learning (Gass & Selinker, 2008, pp. 14-126).
Both models concur that input is vital in language acquisition.

Their learning concepts are similar, as they emphasize proficiency.

They both depend on aptitude for learning situations (Hymes, 1966, pp. 114-158).

Communicative model emphasizes language learning, incorporating grammatical knowledge and studying of the social aspect of the new language. In essence, it measures some form of proficiency (Hymes, 1966, pp. 114-158).
In this model, there is the conscious and intentional need to study the second language. In addition, this can be done in classes.
The model follows SLA concept of pragmatics.
Communicative competence holds to the notion that all forms of knowledge are essential in order for one to communicate well. It is used in education and is categorized into many components namely, sociolinguistics, strategic, grammatical, and organizational competence, among others. Different authors have made dissimilar views of communication competence, Chomsky talking of competence a lone, Hymes emphasizing its use for communicative competence with G+SL while, and Canale & Swain emphasize its grammatical, discourse and sociolinguistic analysis (Hymes, 1966, pp. 114-158).

Instructional implications to second language learners

Implementation of the two models in a classroom will definitely account for diversity in language acquisitioned approach; Students will be able to learn according to the model that best fits them. Environment of learning will require being conducive for uptake of a second language according to Krishen’s monitor hypothesis. A class implementing Krishen’s model will be reviewed using cognitive application of academic language as well as literacy. Theories and researches would be done with that which pertains to the models. The two models can be integrated to promote variety given the difference in cultural or societal approaches. A new curriculum that integrates the two models will have to be incorporated to exploit fully their potentials in learning anew language (Gass & Selinker, 2008, pp. 334-475).

This will include standards and frameworks regarding the various models to effectively promote learning SLA. Demonstration sessions will also form part of learning process to promote easy uptake of the language by the students by reducing behavioral factors like stress. Younger students would use Krishen’s model of acquisition while the adults will incorporate learning and communicative competence (Gass & Selinker, 2008, pp. 434-475).


The two models are different in their approach; Krishen’s model is in line with the natural approach theory that posits that acquisition from the environment is like the natural concept in which a child acquires new language through listening and copying, while Communicative model entails, grammatical competence, strategic, sociolinguistics, pragmatic and discourse competence, among others. Integration of the two models in a classroom is quite effective in reaching out to various students with varying powers of acquisition. The two models are critical in designing an integrated set of model that would help in promoting effective learning and hence proficiency (Gass & Selinker, 2008, pp. 434-475).

Reference List

  1. Gass, M.S. & Selinker, L. (2008). Second Language Acquisition: an introductory course. (3rd Ed.). Madison Ave, New York. Routledge. Web.
  2. Hymes, D.H. (1966). Two types of linguistic relativity. In W. Bright (Ed) Sociolinguistics pp. 114-158. The Hague: Mouton.

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