Natural Order Hypothesis (Stephen Krashen)
Explanation of Main Features

Krashen’s research shows that language, both first and second, are acquired in a natural order (Freeman & Freeman, 2004 p.36). Krashen’s idea of natural order refers to the idea that we learn speech in a specific order and that some features appear before others. This idea is explained by the process in which babies learn to speak. Babies often first produce sounds with vowel, usually ah sounds. Then comes other sounds such as p and m. This idea relates to that of a second language learner trying to grasp a new language. “Whether researchers look at the acquisition of sounds, word parts, or sentence patterns, they find an order of acquisition that is the same even for children whose first languages are different (Freeman & Freeman, 2004 p. 36-7). Linguists have not been able to provide a concrete order in which a new language is acquired however they are certain that a second language is learned in a natural order sequence.

Freeman, D. E. & Freeman, Y. S. (2004). Essential Linguistics. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann.

Classroom Implications
This theory allows us to understand the pathway that students travel in language acquisition. If teachers understand this, they are more likely to understand the errors that students make. Also, this helps teachers understand that they cannot correct errors that are beyond the competence of the learners. Teachers need to realize that this is the natural path and the learner will continue to follow this path. Instruction can perhaps help them move along more quickly, but the necessary and natural steps in language acquisition are going to happen in a certain order, no matter what the instruction may be like (Mason, 2003).


Mason, T. (2003). Didactics - 6 : Critique of Krashen II The Natural Order Hypothesis . Retrieved May 9, 2011, from Timothy Mason's Site: