Students should feel they understand

Students just need to understand messages and do not need to be “taught” individual targets like grammar, phonemes, or vocabulary (Krashen 2013).   Occasionally, we target or hone in on confusing words to clarify.  But if students feel clear on the message of the story, there is no reason to target.  Feeling you understand is all that matters.

According to Dr. Krashen, “If only the feeling of full comprehension is required” we do not necessarily have to “provide a one-to-one mapping from form to meaning” (2013, 110).

Hearing some words or structures that are not 100% clear while we understand the overall message allows students to make “a prediction regarding a previously unknown vocabulary item…(then) read and understand the word in subsequent contexts, we gradually build up the full meaning of the word…” (Krashen 69, 2011).

Incidental vocabulary acquisition happens when targets repeat so subtly, they “stay on the periphery” (Ellis).   Students acquire best when they don’t realize they are hearing a second language (Krashen, 2011, 84).  With subtle, natural repetition of targets, students feel they understand and “just enjoy the story” as Dr. Beniko Mason suggests.


Ellis, N.C. (1994). Consciousness in Second Language Learning: Psychological Perspectives on the Role of Conscious Processes in Vocabulary Acquisition. AILA Review, 11, 37.

Mason, B., & Krashen, S. (1997). Extensive reading in English as a foreign language. System, 25(1), 91-102.

Krashen, S.  (2011). Free Voluntary Reading. Santa Barbara, CA: Libraries Unlimited.

Krashen, S. (2013). The Case for Non-Targeted, Comprehensible Input. Journal of Bilingual Education Research & Instruction 2013 15(1): 102-110.

Krashen, S. (2016, July 26). Targeting 1 and Targeting 2: Working paper [Web log post]. Retrieved from



Published by

Claire Walter

I am an ESL teacher and I promote differentiated, compassionate instruction and assessment for English Language Learners.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s