Active VS. Passive learning

So, to avoid bumping a really ancient thread I’ll make a new one about the topic that I thought about when reading this thread: In Praise Of Passive Learning - Language Forum @ LingQ

I was thinking about what Krashen calls “passive learning” lately and it struck me that Krashen makes a mistake when he calls it “passive”. Because there is nothing at all passive about being engaged in understanding something. If you are paying rapt attention to a story being told in a foreign language you are not passive, you are active and attentive. Also anyone who has spent significant time in the company of a small child knows that they don’t acquire language passively, they expend massive amounts of effort to learn. That effort looks like play and fun to most people, but it’s not passive.

If anything the “learning” that takes place in schools where you are expected to keep quiet and sit in rows while the teacher drones on should be called passive learning. Because in that situation the learners are as passive as cows and they learn about as much.

If you really must I would call the Krashen-esque method “attentive learning” because that describes the essential part of the method. The active vs passive naming is playing by the rules of people who think you need to learn grammar and need to speak from the beginning. Playing by their rules is letting them win without even setting foot on the court.

Anyway I think that making this kind of distinction would help us explain better what we mean when talking about Lingq or Krashen and idiots like Benny wouldn’t as easily lump us in with the ludicrous idea that one can learn a language by listening to things on the radio or MP3 that you totally don’t understand.

Though idiots like Benny would still find a way to misrepresent what we’re talking about… but my hope would be more people in the general language learning audience would be intrigued by the idea.

Bobafruit, I like the term attentive learning. I agree that listening and reading and paying attention to the language is more intensive and more interactive than sitting in class. I have used the term Passive learning myself, because I very much dislike doing exercises and drills or any of the kinds of things that textbooks and teachers want us to do. I find that listening and reading and word review are pleasant and somewhat passive in that they are pleasant and not imposed on us by someone else.