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What are the implications of Stephen Krashen's Monitor model for the classroom?

In Stephen Krashen’s monitor theory, the implications are that the monitor is like an editor or a supervisor. They should probably correct their students if they’re using language improperly, but they shouldn’t correct them too much. If students spend most of their time worrying about a specific language rule or law, it’ll be harder for them to accomplish a basic fluency. In conclusion, the best monitor will likely be a balanced teacher or overseer.

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Before I can tell you about the implications of linguist Stephen Krashen's monitor theory, I should probably tell you about his acquisition-learning theory.

For Krashen, a person gains the ability to speak a language through two main ways: acquisition and learning.

Acquisition refers to the unconscious absorption of language. It just happens. A baby or young child hears language from their parents or from a screen and they acquire it whether they’re aware of it or not.

Learning makes the acquisition conscious. When the young child starts to learn about a language, they become aware of all of its various rules and laws. Now, it’s not just happening. Rather, they’re making it happen. They’re actively aware of the language that they're speaking.

Now, I’m ready to bring in the monitor. The monitor, as the name suggests, monitors or supervises how the person uses the language.

A person learning English might say something like, “I wants to go outside.” If a monitor is present, the monitor might correct that person. The monitor might tell that person that they should have said, “I want to go outside.”

Krashen argues that the monitor should not be correcting their students all of the time. The monitor should be able to find a middle ground. If the monitor is constantly editing and amending a student’s speech, that student might get too caught up in specific rules and laws and might never learn the full language.

The conclusions—or "implications"—for Krashen’s monitor are various. Karshen’s monitor seems to have a lot of power. The monitor is like the main authority for the language being learned. The monitor should weld that power carefully. Like I said, they should not spend too much time correcting their students nor should they let their students stray too far from the proper uses of the language that they are learning.

Again, the best monitor will probably take a balanced and flexible approach when it comes to encouraging accuracy while also aiming for a basic fluency.

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Stephen Krashen's theories of second language learning are not entirely new. They elucidate something known as the Natural Approach: the idea that second language learning should resemble the way the first language is learned. Spoken language is emphasized and the learner is exposed to comprehensible input.

In order to understand the Monitor hypothesis, it is necessary to understand that which precedes it: the Acquisition-Learning hypothesis. Languages can be comprehended by both acquisition and learning. "Acquisition" is the interaction that the subject has with speakers of the language: for example, a baby listening to her parents. "Learning" is formal instruction, as in a language classroom.

The Monitor hypothesis involves both parts of the Acquisition-Learning processes. A second-language learner produces utterances, according to Krashen, because of his unconscious exposure to the language. His formal learning acts as an editor of what he produces.

What are its implications for the language teacher? One has to do with error correction. Most learners want and expect the teacher to correct their errors. According to Krashen, the teacher should encourage self correction. If a student makes a mistake, it is important to give her time so that she can "Monitor" herself and self-correct errors. Also, the teacher should not expect a learner to correct all mistakes. Even native speakers sometimes make errors when engaging in small talk. Learners should be encouraged to use their "Monitor" when doing presentations and reports, however.

Krashen's ideas are brilliant, and they have had an important influence in the field of foreign-language pedagogy. Nevertheless, most present-day language teachers are eclectic. They realize that there is no Holy Grail of language instruction.

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When using the Monitor model for the teaching of L2 in the SLA classroom, one must first consider that there are 5 hypotheses included within the model. Each of the hypothesis shows a different way in which the L2 is used by, both, seasoned and new learners.

The most important implication is that the curriculum and instruction must be contoured to include all five proposed theses. The first tenet of the Monitor model is the "acquisition/learning theory". This theory separates learning from acquisition. Even if learning is a voluntary or enforced process, the fact remains that it is still a conscious effort to receive and retain specific information. Acquisition is the natural process of learning through activities and interaction. What this implies is that the L2 lesson must be interactive, relevant, and as close to real life as possible. We want acquisition, and not learning

The second implication comes from the natural order hypothesis: it states that language, regardless what system it comes from, will be learned either way through a predictably organized neural pattern. Therefore, teachers should not stress nor over-explain language; the student will learn it either way, and the more natural exposure to it, the better. Hence, L2 learning must best be immersed in the target language, or at least as saturated yet less threatening as possible.

The third implication comes from the monitor-language hypothesis. This hypothesis contends that, even when learning language at its rawest, most natural way, L2 students are aware of monitoring the proper usage of it when needed. This being said, teachers should simplify the lesson to its most important components and should not emphasize so much on formal usage of L2. There should be a balanced teaching of every aspect of L2 use, but over-pressing the "formalities" of the language will just stress students out. Again, students are much smarter and resilient than we think as teachers; they will figure it out.

The fourth implication is comes from the input hypothesis; it states that consistent exposure to language is the key to learn it. Even if the teacher cannot verbally use L2 at a 100% at first, there are other ways for exposure through movies, posters, books, diglots, picture books, and of course through the use of the Internet.

The final implication, coming from the affective filter hypothesis. Basically, learning cannot occur when your brain is compromised thinking about outside stressors. Learning cannot occur either when the lesson is just too complicated, or when the student feels like a failure before even getting there. Hence, to lower the affective filter, teachers must offer lessons that are loaded with positive feedback, appropriate criticism, chances of trial and error, and with the least threatening atmosphere possible.

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