ESL Term:



ESL/EFL Glossary: A Guide to applied linguistics terminology.


Back to ESL Resources | Back to Glossary



acquisiton-learning hypothesis:  According to Stephen Krashen, adult second language learners can develop second language learning. One method is learning, a conscious study of the forms of language. The other method is acquistion, or just picking up a language the way children do without conscious attention to forms. Krashen further argues that acquisiton is far more beneficial in terms of producing fluent, natural communication in another language.  Krashen also asserts that learning cannot change into acquistion.

Note: Learning can be a confusing word because in the acquisition-learning hypothesis it has a very precise meaning: a conscious study of rules and forms. However, learning is also used in a more general sense of becoming more proficient or knowledgable in something. So for example, in the sentence:    

            Second language learners can acquire or learn a language,

the meaning of learn is different in the two instances where it is used. Perhaps, this confusion wouldn't have resulted if Krashen had choosen study in place of learn.