The Noticing Hypothesis

When was the hypothesis launched? 1990, Richard Schmidt

“For learners to acquire formal features of language, they must notice them [consciously] in the input”

The hypothesis claims that learners must notice THAT the features are used, not HOW or WHEN they are used.

The NH has been distorted by some researchers and practitioners to support grammar instruction. “We must make learners notice the features”.

Criticism of NH – BVP: Input does not contain rules, it doesn’t contain formal features of language, it’s just a speech stream. It’s the mind that imposes order on the data. Conjecture: Learners notice stuff only when they are ready to notice them. Krashen argues that noticing occurs after acquisition: the Eureka phenomenon.

Thr NH is not very clear on what awareness means and what properties of language is.

Two questions:

  • What does it mean to ‘become aware’?
  • What kinds of properties of language do we mean when we talk about the NH?

Problem with NH: ungrammaticality tests. People are able to claim a sentence is ungrammatical without arguably having noticed the implicit rule before.

Processing Instruction does not rely on or utilize the NH. Processing does not imply noticing. Processing: making form-meaning connections.

BVP: Research on NH does not show that noticing really does anything.

Input Enhancement? It’s predicated on the NH. Input Enhancement research is 50/50 as far as.effectiveness. Measurement biases towards explicit knowledge. BVP: the problem is the definition of language and what we think needs to get noticed. Learners do not acquire e.g. verb endings. They acquire lexicon with those e.g. verb endings. Once they acquire enough lexicon, those properties are tagged implicitly in the mind which allows production of new language with those properties.

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