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Receptive Learning

Essentially Reading and Listening.

This is the idea that people learn a foreign language best by doing it in the same way that they learned their mother tongue: with lots of context-based input.

But does this really work in the classroom? Explain to me how, after six weeks of studying the Second World War, a child who has been exposed to the past simple tense every day only uses the present simple tense when writing about the war!

Receptive Learning is heavily influenced by Stephen Krashen’s Input Hypothesis. But input is useless without intake. In other words, Receptive Learning requires intake as well as input. Input is relatively easy: it should be comprehensible (preferably just above a child’s current reading and listening proficiency), relevant and interesting. Of course, doing that in a classroom (the resourcing, never mind the teaching) of 18 children each at a different proficiency level and with different interests makes what seems a simple solution somewhat harder in the messy world of the classroom. But how do you ensure intake?


Let’s assume people learn a new language through the formation of interlanguage – the generating and testing of hypotheses about what a language might be. This is a big step as it is; it assumes students are or are encouraged to be active, highly cognitive learners. What does a teacher do, specifically, in the classroom, to encourage intake.


Students, unsure of a particular grammatical construct, may simply avoid using it altogether. So maybe the student mentioned above who only used the present simple tense in her writing did so because she wanted to avoid making mistakes.



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