Teachability, Learnability Hypothesis

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Teachability, Learnability Hypothesis:
How does it work in Learner-centered and
Learning-centered Instruction?


One of the main issues in language pedagogy is whether instruction is of any help in second language acquisition. In this regard, three different related positions can be found in literature. By differentiating between acquisition and learning and believing that ‘picking up’ a second language becomes possible only through minimal exposure to it, Krashen (1981) has taken a non-intervention position. Moreover, there are those researchers who argue that while instruction might possibly be necessary for second language acquisition, it does assist in rapid acquisition of L2 (see Ellis, 1993). And finally, there
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Meisel, Clahsen and Pienemann (1981), for example, have explained that learners’ progress through these stages depends on their psycholinguistic processing abilities. Pienemann (1984; 1985; 1989) formulated a ‘teachability hypothesis’ which is predicated on the psycholinguistic research in second language acquisition. On the basis of Pienemann's hypothesis, instruction should proceed in a manner to target a learner’s next developmental level so as to be more effective than the one which targets features distant from the learner’s current level. Those features which are subservient to instruction at specific times are termed ‘developmental’ and those which are considered to respond to instruction at just about any time are termed ‘variational’ (Pienemann 2005). Mitchel et al. (2013) assert that Pienemann's processability theory was developed “to explain the well documented observation that second language learners follow 'a fairly rigid route' in their acquisition of certain grammatical structures” (p. 185). The implication of the notion of route is that learnability of structures becomes possible when the previous steps on this acquisitional path have been acquired. Pienemann states that learners can, at any given point in time, only operate within their Hypothesis Space constrained by the processing resources they have…show more content…
This approach, which is applied in many communicatively-driven teaching practices worldwide and one example of which is the Natural Approach, seeks to engage learners in meaningful interaction through communicative or problem-solving activities in classroom (Richards & Rodgers, 2001; Kumaravadivelu, 2006). As these scolars comment, Terrell was the researcher who bore some experiences on L2 pedagogy in terms of learning-centeredness and his later cooperation with Krashen contributed to the construction of the theoretical rationale for this
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