Monday, December 11, 2017

We should "get over Krashen" ....

Squabbles on social media
Published in Language Magazine, November 2017 (vol 17,1: 8)

The “Dear Editor” section of the September Language Magazine was dedicated to social media posts reacting to my work. 
By far the most entertaining was Robert Easterbrook’s claim that my work is old and inconsistent with brain research, and that we should therefore “get over Krashen.” As letter writer Mark Chapman points out, Easterbrook provides us with no details. In my view, a large number of studies confirm the hypotheses proposed 40 years ago, and apparent counterexamples have been dealt with (articles in  I have also commented on brain research in an article in Language Magazine entitled “The White Stuff” (February 2009). 
In much friendlier commentaries, Roberto Alvira and Scarlett Ostojic suggest that comprehensible input needs to be complemented with “pushed output,” following the Comprehensible Output hypotheses proposed by Merrill Swain. I argue against this is in my book, Explorations in Language Acquisition and Use (2003, Heinemann) and also in a short paper, Krashen, S. 1998. Comprehensible output? System 26: 175-182 (available for free download at, section on language acquisition).

Stephen Krashen


  1. I have known a number of people who learned English from working on a Cruise ship. They spend the day speaking broken English with other semi-fluent English speaker from all over the world. The develope fluency, but their grammar and basic sentence structures are terrible, with L1 mistakes from multible languages. I suspect that there are real limits on precise communications. But the are fluent.
    But practice practice practice make for really bad grammar.

    1. Agreed. I know a number of people who worked at a computer programming firm in New York City that came from various Eastern Block and Asian countries. They knew enough English to communicate with one another well-enough to complete business tasks, but speaking with any native was a chore.