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The Monitor hypothesis explains the relationship betweenacquisition and learning and defines the influence of the latter on the former. The monitoring function is the practical result of the learned grammar. According to Krashen, the acquisition system is the utterance initiator, while the learning system performs the role of the 'monitor' or the 'editor'. The 'monitor' acts in a planning, editing and correcting function when three specific conditions are met: that is, the second language learner has sufficient time at his/her disposal, he/she focuses on form or thinks about correctness, and he/she knows the rule.
According to Krashen there are two independent systems of second languageperformance: 'the acquired system' and 'the learned system'. The 'acquiredsystem' or 'acquisition' is the product of a subconscious processvery similar to the process children undergo when they acquire their firstlanguage. It requires meaningful interaction in the target language - naturalcommunication - in which speakers are concentrated not in the form of theirutterances, but in the communicative act.
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The 'learned system' or 'learning' is the product of formal instructionand it comprises a conscious process which results in conscious knowledge'about' the language, for example knowledge of grammar rules. Accordingto Krashen 'learning' is less important than 'acquisition'. .
Anyways, whether it is a FL or SL process, the learners will not want to start to learn from scratch how to communicate in the target language, but will attempt to modify their existing communicative skills according to the requirements of the target language. When learners set out to learn a new language, they automatically assume (until they have evidence of the contrary) that meanings and structures will be somewhat similar to those in their own language. This kind of equivalence assumption puts them ahead of the game; that is, it makes it possible for them to learn another language without at the same time returning to childhood and learning to categorize the world all over again. But, to provide a definitive statement on the role of the first language in second and foreign language scenarios is a very complex issue, as there is still so much to learn about it because in the end, if the mother tongue is present in that language process, it will be much more meaningful. After all, as Nelson Mandela once said, ?if you talk to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head. If you talk to him in his language, that goes to his heart.?
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On the other hand, learning a foreign language has a completely different scenario for the learner will usually have no context outside the place where the new language can be taught and learnt, so he will necessarily require formal instruction. In such situation, the reason for learning a new language may not be of paramount importance because the learner will keep on making use of his mother tongue to communicate with those around him, giving him very little or no chance to put what he is learning into practice. Besides that, when acquiring a non-primary language, learners have to learn not only the forms of that particular language but also the conceptual structures that are associated with those forms. Here is the main difference between SLA (second language acquisition) and FLL (foreign language learning). Whereas in the SL environment, learning forms and conceptual structures represented by those forms simultaneously is possible, in the FL environment learners are usually expected to focus on the forms while learning little or nothing about the conceptual structures those forms represent. Here is where some experts argue that the fundamental processes involved in learning a non-primary language do not depend on the context in which the language is learned. It is said that the psycholinguistic tasks learners have to face do not depend on the learning situation because what learners have to do in both contexts is the same: come up with a grammar of the target language (i.e., grammatical competence) and develop the ability to put that knowledge to use.
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