The limits of comprehensible input?

General discussion about learning languages
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Re: The limits of comprehensible input?

Postby zKing » Tue Nov 13, 2018 4:38 am

reineke wrote:
zKing wrote:As always, this is my opinion and there are certainly many who will disagree with some or most of what I've written.
Cue the angry 'extensive listening/watching is all you need' rebuttal post in 3...2...1...

There was no need for the comic relief edit. The comment was not angry. You made a comment about Krashen. I have provided you with the information that as of November 2018 he is sticking to his guns. Krashen advocates compelling CI in low anxiety situations. Under such circumstances, speech is supposed to emerge, not shoot out like a rocket.

My apologies, but I think there was a misunderstanding. My comment about the rebuttal post was in my original text and was not an edit directed at you. The later edit I made was to fix typos I noticed after someone else quoted me. :D

I fully defer to others on what Krashen has said as I have only read a tiny portion of his writings.
Last edited by zKing on Tue Nov 13, 2018 5:24 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: The limits of comprehensible input?

Postby Valddu » Tue Nov 13, 2018 4:52 am

reineke wrote:Stephen Krashen
‏Nov 10
Krashen, S. 2018. Down with forced speech! ... ch_pdf.pdf

Very interesting read! I wish, however, that Krashen would focus more on that transition from CI to speaking. It’s hard to me imagine, for example, that the mexican immigrant who learned Hebrew did it entirely through listening—wouldn’t it be natural to assume that as part of the process he frequently repeated phrases and words he heard his coworkers using? Wouldn’t that be true of the african polgylots as they transitioned from listening to speaking? That there would be a trial and error process as they activated their passive understanding of the language?

I think CI is a fantastic tool for learning a language—I just haven’t seen convincing evidence that ONLY CI leads to fluency. Many polyglots at the polyglot conference seem to practice their output in many ways (Luca, for example, pretends to take phone calls from people so he practice his speaking in public).
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Re: The limits of comprehensible input?

Postby smallwhite » Tue Nov 13, 2018 5:11 am

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Dialang or it didn't happen.

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Re: The limits of comprehensible input?

Postby golyplot » Tue Nov 13, 2018 5:29 am

Lawyer&Mom wrote:I’ve gravitated towards the comprehensible input method *because* it’s an easy way to get comfortable with input. The skewed benefits towards listening and reading are a feature, not a bug. French is my second foreign language, speaking isn’t all that important to me, I have much more access to French media than French speakers, why bother putting all the work into the details when I could be swimming in native content already?

This is my philosophy too. I have virtually no need or opportunities to actually speak foreign languages, but it's nice to be able to understand them. Which is convenient, because I can train listening skills just by watching TV.
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Re: The limits of comprehensible input?

Postby reineke » Tue Nov 13, 2018 5:34 am

Zking thanks for clarifying. Had I seen the comment, I wouldn't have posted since I am already overinvested in this issue.

Anyway, here are a couple of previous (intense) discussions on this subject.

This time victorhart is around to answer the questions. Maybe we'll also hear from the person who conducted the Norwegian experiment.

Has anyone learnt a language well without trying to learn it? ... =14&t=3061

Armando and Hebrew ... 2&start=10
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Re: The limits of comprehensible input?

Postby Teango » Tue Nov 13, 2018 6:35 am

Xmmm wrote:If someone is kidnapped, drugged, and wakes up with an Amazonian tribe, then he is of course going to learn the language...

This deserves a thread of its own... :)
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Re: The limits of comprehensible input?

Postby rdearman » Tue Nov 13, 2018 9:33 am

Teango wrote:
Xmmm wrote:If someone is kidnapped, drugged, and wakes up with an Amazonian tribe, then he is of course going to learn the language...

This deserves a thread of its own... :)

And a film.
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Re: The limits of comprehensible input?

Postby Iversen » Tue Nov 13, 2018 9:55 am

If pupils have to take valium (as in the Krashen article) to survive a Spanish class because they will be forced to speak in Spanish there, then it would surprise me if they ever learned to speak the language. The fear of speaking in public is not a phenomenon restricted to language learning, but maybe more prevalent there because the stated end goal of those classes is to make it possible to speak and write a target language. I have never personally feared speaking to a lot of people at once, so in my case it was another aspect that made me hate the speaking exercises, namely the idea that you had to play roles and mimic situations that weren't relevant in the precise moment. If somebody wants to know my name I don't mind telling them what it is, and within my limits I would also love to tell people about dinosaurs and musical notation and migration of prehistoric tribes and other fascinating topics, but to make my speaking sessions into dramatics scene with somebody to ask and somebody to give a prescribed (and utterly boring) answer is equivalent to forcing poor innocent pupils to play Theater - and I hate theater and histrionics and actors/axctresses and artsy setups under supervision with a vengeance ... and always did, even during my school years. But tell me to speak about one of my interests in any of my languages and you will be the one who run screaming away with bleeding ears ...

As for the idea of comprehensive input I find it extremely important, maybe even necessary for any kind of language learning, but the weaknesses of Krashen's ideas are 1) that he doesn't seem to grasp that words learned bulkwise without a context can be as useful as those learned one at a time with a context. OK, you may not get the whole semantic field and net of associations from a dictionary, but you don't get that from an isolated example either, and with SRS or wordlists you can learn words faster than if you have to wait for them to occur. 2) Krashen must have personal reasons to hate grammar so much since he can't see that you are better equipped to understand the structure of your extensive reading/listening when you have been told the basics of what to look for.
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Re: The limits of comprehensible input?

Postby reineke » Tue Nov 13, 2018 12:55 pm

"Corder (1967) made a significant observation in his seminal paper about how input is perceived in the process of L2 acquisition. His insight later became one of the cornerstones in input-related research. He discussed the notion of intake:

The simple fact of presenting a certain linguistic form to a learner in the classroom does not necessarily qualify it for the status of input, for the reason that input is “what goes in” not what is available for going in, and we may reasonably suppose that it is the learner who controls this input, or more properly his intake. The fact that not all the available data in the learner’s environment can be absorbed and used in building the learner’s IL grammar presents one conundrum, and the condition that would enable the conversion of input into intake has been a central point of research. Corder’s comment also shifted the way SLA researchers perceived input: from a strictly external phenomenon to the interface between the external stimuli and learners’ internal systems. Discussions on learners’ developmental readiness, teachability, and other cognitive factors thus came to the fore.... The common consensus in the field of SLA is that what input learners are actually able to use for developmental purposes will depend on their current state of knowledge. Following this acknowledgement, however, it remains unclear exactly what mechanisms and subprocesses are responsible for the input-to-intake conversion. The models described below will provide some insights into this question..."


"As a midpoint summary, the models reviewed so far, proposed by Chaudron (1985), Sharwood Smith (1986), and Gass (1997), converge on the necessity of comprehensible input (or comprehended input, in Gass’s term). Learners must be able to decode enough of the input to formulate a conceptual representation, through which linguistic structures can be called upon from current competence and be compared with the external and apperceived structure. Paradoxically, but perhaps not incompatibly, there must also be incomprehensible input—some extra bits of linguistic forms that cause a mental jolt in processing. Had everything in the input been completely understood, learners would generally feel no need to attend to forms, and acquisition ofmissing structures would not occur. In other words, because ofthe incomprehensibility of the input, learners’ attention is drawn to the specific structure. Then cognitive comparison between IL representation and external representation would take place, which would eventually lead to acquisition..."

"Carroll (1999, 2000) makes a clear distinction between processing for parsing and for acquisition. It is exactly when the parsers fail that the acquisitional mechanisms are triggered—a view that is somewhat aligned with the notion of incomprehensible input. But instead of using a very general notion of noticing the gap and cognitive comparison, Carroll spells out the sequence of restructuring and enhances the understanding on this somewhat vague area. Namely, during successful parsing, rules are activated in each processor to categorize and combine representations.

Failures occur when the rules are inadequate or missing. Consequently, the rule that comes closest to successfully parse the specific unit would be selected and would undergo the most economical and incremental revision. This process is repeated until parsing succeeds or is at least passable at that given level. This procedure explains the process of acquisition, where the exact trigger for acquisition is parsing failure resulting from incomprehensible input...

Continuing with the discussion of comprehensible and incomprehensible input, Carroll (2000) contradicts the way Gass (1997) conceptualizes and sequences input-processing in her model. Gass conceives of intake as a subset of comprehended input. However, according to Carroll’s logic, comprehension involves the extraction of meaning to form conceptual representations, and conceptual representations are, by nature, open to introspection. According to Jackendoff (1987), they are the format in which we think. If the stage of intake follows\ comprehended input (which is comprised of these conceptual representations), it may imply that intake and any further mental comparisons are also open to introspection. Carroll argues that this scenario might be flawed: the theoretical concept of the black-box LAD does not include conscious introspection. Empirical support has not yet been provided for learners being able to utilize conscious comparison during online processing..."

"Synthesizing all the above views, Chaudron, Sharwood Smith, and Gass’ stance on attention is not actually incompatible with Carroll’s. One possible explanation for this apparent disagreement is that it is an artifact of the way each researcher conceived input processing: Each researcher created his/her model based on a different starting point of processing. More importantly, the diverging views actually highlighted the importance of attention, and it may be so prevalent that it operates before the initial processor, within the processor, and as a result of processing, as suggested by the various models. The importance of attention has already been researched with great interest, as seen in Schmidt’s (1990) Noticing Hypothesis…"

Input Processing in Second Language Acquisition: A Discussion of Four Input Processing Models
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Re: The limits of comprehensible input?

Postby Elexi » Tue Nov 13, 2018 1:24 pm

SLA research has long known the limits of a pure comprehensible input approach. It is not a complete theory of language acquisition and a large bloc of SLA academics advocate mixing C.I. with form focus to get learners to produce automaticity in language learning.

A good, shortish academic article can be found here: ... lock_id=21
Last edited by Elexi on Tue Nov 13, 2018 10:05 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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