Stephen Krashen: How do we acquire language

An interesting interview by Matt:

Professor Krashen mentions that he has a ‘language therapist’ - Steve Kaufmann - who instructed him: ‘Don’t worry about making mistakes when you talk; nobody cares!’


I agree with Steve Kaufmann’s statement. We all make mistakes in speaking, which includes native speakers as well. I go into Krashen’s hypotheses on language acquisition theory.

1 Like

Matt has his own opinions about this issue and totally differs from those opinions of Steve Kaufmann and Krashen. With regards to making mistakes, his opinion is that you should keep amassing a lot of inputs and delay your speaking for at least 2 years. If you do not know to how to say things in a certain way that means your mind has not been exposed to such structures in the language. It is better to wait than invent your own version of the language. Secondly, N+1 hypothesis is a kind of academic jargon. In his opinion, even if native material is 20% comprehensible it is better to engage in it, your subconscious mind will decode it with the passage of time as long as you are engaging in it.
Also, having 8 hours of language days is beneficial as it activates your internal radar (ex: when you buy a new car, all of a sudden, your subconscious mind will start noticing it everywhere.)
I agreed. I used to have such long days in the beginning. My internal radar was activated even people were talking far away from me on sidewalks. It kept trying to eavesdrop on their conversations.

Overall, I must say that he has very interesting stuff to say when it comes to learning a language. Based on my own experience learning German I am inclining towards his school of thoughts.
I spoke a little in German. But I only used those phrases that I heard and communication flew.
11 months ago I only knew a few greetings, but the first time ever, an immigration officer talked to me in full-fledged German when I went there to pick up my temporary resident card and I understood everything.
I tested his theories while learning German and I experienced the same results as per his propagation.

Steve and Krashen are big names but I would say that Matt is an underrated jewel when it comes to proposing language learning strategies.


I say to Matt, welcome to the community! I don’t agree that you should delay speaking for at least 2 years. Generally, I think that takes too long. I would say, for more difficult languages, that would make some sense. However, whatever works for you is fine by me. We are part of the language learning community after all.

1 Like

I just think that practice makes perfect. Not just practice, but also application. Learning languages like German, French, or any language is easy if you just watch the basics on Youtube and read some books. However, the real challenge is when you already step into the real world and see how the language is really being used by the people around you. There lies the real challenge, especially if native speakers tend to speak really fast (especially Fench). it can be more challenging.