The Role of Input in Second Language Acquisition
Whether the input plays an important role in Second Language Acquisition remains a controversial problem for a long time. Different researchers have given their distinct opinions on the issue. This paper examines briefly on Krashen’s input theory and several features of the input and focuses on the effect of input in acquisition.
The role of target language input has always been a major concern of Second Language Acquisition( hereinafter short for SLA ). Though almost all theories agree that input is necessary in acquisition, they differ in the attitude towards the importance of it. Among all the researchers, Krashen has been the most ardent and persistent one to the input. In his theory, he gives the definition “humans acquire language in only one way--by understanding messages, or [that is] by receiving comprehensible input” (Krashen, 1985). He described “comprehensible input” in a particular way. He thought that the level of the input to a learner must be slightly higher than the level of the learner’s target language level. If the learner’s current level of target language is i, then the input he is exposed to must be i+1. Only in this way can a learner’s inner mental structure, which Krashen assumed as a Language Acquisition Device, be activated.
Still many questions remains. Many have reacted to the Krashen’s overstated effect of input in SLA. These researchers agree that many other factors besides comprehensible input are needed for second language to be a success. The toughest question is that how to define the level i+1. In 1976, a researcher called Corder made an important distinction between what he called input and intake. Input refers to what the learners can get, while intake refers to what the learners take into their knowledge system of the target language.
Later, Ellis (1997) finds the distinction between input and intake rather useful when it comes...