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Leave the Debate About Krashen to the Psycholinguists
The Best Thing About the "Input Hypothesis" is It Works, Says Hasanbey Ellidokuzoglu

Hasanbey Ellidokuzoglu, of Ankara, Turkey, recently posted a comment on the TESL-L listserv regarding the relevance of Stephen Krashen's "input hypothesis" for reading and writing instruction. He agreed to publish his remarks as an article for the readers of ESL MiniConference Online.

After Patricia Warwick's question (on the TESL-L listserv) as to whether Krashen's Input Hypothesis is applicable to reading and writing, some gave positive and some negative responses. Mine would be somewhere in between but toward the positive side.

Some five or six years ago, I was an active member of the TESL-L and SLART-L discussion groups. During my first involvement in those discussions, one of the hotly-debated topics was Krashen's theory. He was attacked for the weaknesses in his theory. Many suggested that his theory is an old one and not capable of accounting for certain aspects of second language acquisition. Last week I renewed my membership to TESL-L and SLART-L. It seems like Krashen is fresh enough as always. In the meantime, I have finished my Ph.D. on ELT and my faith in Krashen's theory is strengthened even more as I have made about 70 third-person -s mistakes in the unedited drafts of my dissertation. This can only be explained through Krashen's distinction between acquisition and learning, another weak (!) point of his theory.

First of all, Krashen's theory is far from being complete, just like many other theories in social sciences. Many critics of Krashen blame him for not elaborating on the concepts like "comprehensible input", "subconscious acquisition", etc. Although it is possible to provide some operational definitions of these terms, I will not focus on the theoretical issues here (those who are interested may visit our Natural Approach website at I would like to point out, however, that the incompete aspects of Krashen's theory concern the psycholinguists rather than practioners (language teachers). In other words, Krashen's monitor theory and the resultant Natural Approach method has put forward invaluable short-cuts to second language proficiency. A recently published article in ITL shows this quite clearly (Isik, A. 2000. The role of input in second language acquisition: more comprehensible input supported by grammar instruction or more grammar instruction? ITL Review of Applied Linguistics. 129:225-274). The evidence provided in this article (and references cited therein) shows clearly that extensive reading is the key (though not the only) factor leading to the development of writing ability. I would like to give more info about the article, but unfortunately I do not have enough time now (nor for a real long while). But I will be following the discussion.

Comment by Hasanbey Ellidokuzoglu
Turkish Military Academy / Middle East Technical University
Ankara, Turkey

2002 ESL MiniConference Online