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Krashen’s Monitor Model, Vygotsky’s Sociocultural Theories of Learning

Krashen’s Monitor Model, Vygotsky’s Sociocultural Theories of Learning

Krashen’s Monitor Model

In the words of Stephen Krashen“Language acquisition does not require extensive use of conscious grammatical rules, and does not require tedious drill”. So the Krashan Monitor model is most important among the Krashen’s Monitor Model and Vygotsky’s Sociocultural Theories of Learning.

Krashen Monitor Model is a second language learning hypothesis and describes how a second language learner learns or acquires the second language. It depicts two independent ways to learn and develop learners’ linguistic skills Acquisition and learning. Input Hypothesis or Krashen Monitor Model is a set of hypotheses for second language learning. Stephen Krashen is the founder of this learning model. He worked on this model from 1970 to 1980. In the beginning, he worked only for one hypothesis. As time passes away, the term is called a set of five theories or hypotheses. An input hypothesis is a group of five learning hypotheses; the acquisition–learning hypothesis, the monitor hypothesis, the natural order hypothesis, and the affective filter hypothesis. Krashen’s set of Input Hypothesis was published in 1977.

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Krashen Monitor model gives primary importance to the comprehensible or understandable input. In this model, written and spoken input is considered the only mechanism that increases the linguistics competence of the learner. Here language output is not considered to have any effect on the learner’s ability. This learning model also claims that linguistics competence becomes advance when learners learn language consciously. Moreover, conscious learning is not utilized as a source of spontaneous language production. This model also considers that language learning is entirely dependant on the mood of a learner. According to Krashen if a learner is not mentally satisfied and is working under stress or not willing to learn the language, then his language learning will not be successful.

second language learning
Krashen’s monitor model

This hypothesis is playing an influential role in language education, especially in the united states and Europe. Some academicians also criticize this approach. The main criticism of the hypothesis is that it is unverifiable, and there is also a difference between language learning and acquisition, and it is proved in the existed phenomenon. Krashen points out the notion that merely speaking in the target language does not result in language acquisition. Speaking assists in language acquisition indirectly, but the ability to speak is not the cause of language learning or acquisition. The comprehensible output is the real learning and effect of language acquisition.

Here it is described that ‘i’ represents the previously learned linguistic competence and new linguistic knowledge. So when the learner starts to learn a new language, he moves from ‘into ‘i+1’by comprehension of the input. Here extra-linguistic knowledge means the knowledge of the outer world and situation, which is also called context. Here the term +1 represents the immediate increase of new knowledge or language structure that will be in the learner’s capability to acquire a new language.

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The comprehensible input hypothesis is also called the natural order hypothesis. As we learn the language rule in line order, 1,2,3,4…then ‘I’ represents the last language form or rule learned. Furthermore, ‘i+1″ is the next structure that the learner is going to learn. So this target must be stressed, and only input is not sufficient, received input must be comprehensible. He describes three points or Corollaries of the input hypothesis.

  1. Talking (output) is not practicing
  2. i+1 is present when having enough comprehensible input
  3. Teaching order is not based on the natural order

Set of Five Hypothesis of Krashen Monitor model

Here in Krashen monitor model following hypothesis are included;

  • The acquisition-learning hypothesis
  • The Natural Order Hypothesis
  • The Monitor Hypothesis
  • The Input Hypothesis
  • The Affective Filter Hypothesis

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The acquisition-learning hypothesis

This hypothesis divides language acquisition and learning into two categories as language acquisition is subconscious, and language learning is a conscious process. The acquisition of language is a subconscious, natural, and intuitive learning process. In this process, a learner is going to learn unconsciously, and he is not aware of his learning. Moreover, in the unintentional process, the learner acquires his target knowledge, and even he does not know that he has gain knowledge or learning. According to Krashen, children and adult learn their language skills and expertise unconsciously, and they acquire written and oral language. This process is followed in the acquisition of the native language or the mother tongue. According to this hypothesis, acquisition needs a focus on meaning instead of form.

second language learning
Acquisition learning hypothesis

While this theory considers language learning, a conscious process that is adopted in schools, here new information and knowledge is represented consciously in the form of language rules, grammar and the process involves in it for correction. Formal instructions are required in language learning. So it is considered less effective than of acquisition. Learning is a teacher-centered approach and the teacher has the priority in it. Krashen considers learning is less effective and less important than the acquisition.

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Strength of The acquisition-learning hypothesis

This model describes that language is learned and understood more effectively in natural settings. Learners get excellence in language learning through natural communications.

The weakness of The acquisition-learning hypothesis

The definitions of the acquisition and learning of the concepts are not clear.

Monitor Hypothesis

This hypothesis describes the terms, learning, and acquisition as well as points out the relationship and influence between the learning and acquisition. The Learned grammar of the person works as a monitor in the process. That is why it is called the monitoring hypothesis. Krashen describes the system of acquisition as utterance and initiator as well as the system of learning works as the monitor or editor. The act of monitor is in planning, correcting, and editing under the three specific conditions. The first point describes that The person who is going to learn the second language has enough time for its learning. The second point tells that the learner also focuses on form and work, and thinks for correctness.

Moreover, the third point highlights that learner knows the rules. It describes that conscious learning has limitations in second language performance. Krashen points out that role of the monitor is minimal and is used for the correction of deviations in ordinary speech and also provides polished appearance.

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There is also individuality at the learner level concerning monitor use. Krashen individualized the learners who overuse the monitor hypothesis and do not use their conscious knowledge, those who have a proper understanding of its use. Here, learners, the psychological profile can help to determine that from what group they belong to. There are two terms extrovert and introvert or a perfectionist. Former is under users while later are over users of monitor hypothesis.

Input Hypothesis

This hypothesis elaborates on how a learner learns the second language. How the second language takes place in learning? The input method only concerns with first language acquisition and not second language learning. This hypothesis describes the process of learning, learner improvement, and progress along with the natural order. When a learner gets the input of the second language is one step from his current stage of linguistic competence. Krashen describes that if language learner is at stage ‘i, then acquisition takes place when he/she is exposed to ‘Comprehensible Input’ that belongs to level ‘i + 1’. He describes that all the learners can not be at the same level of linguistic competence at the same time. He suggests that in the syllabus designing natural communicative input can play an important role. It will ensure that every learner will get some ‘i + 1’ input which is suitable for his current stage of linguistics competence.

The Affirmative Hypothesis

Here in this hypothesis, Krashen describes that in the process of second language learning how affective variables play a facilitative and no casual role. In these variables, there are motivation, self-confidence, personality traits, and anxiety. According to Krashen if a learner is motivated having self-confidence, excellent personality traits, a little anxiety, and extroversion will get success in second language acquisition. Moreover, the learners having a low level of motivation and self-esteem with a higher level of anxiety, introversion, and inhibition will not learn their target language so efficiently. This thing will work as a filter and cause a blockage in the process of learning and make it slow down. So we can say that when this filter is up, it blocks language acquisition while positivity is necessary but not sufficient for the language acquisition process.

Natural Order Hypothesis

This hypothesis is based on research findings. According to Krashen, 1987; Makino, 1980; Fathman, 1975; Dulay & Burt, 1974, that the acquisition of grammatical rules and structures follows a predictable natural order. In a target language learning, it looks that some grammatical rules and structures acquired late and some early. It is an independent order for the learners of the L1 background. Here the condition of exposure and agreement between the acquirers was not always 100% in the studies and learning. Many similarities help the existence of the natural order of the acquisition of language. Here Krashen rejects the logical sequences in the language acquisition.

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Implications of the Krashen Input Model

Krashen points out that the study of the structure of the language has general educational benefits and values that’s why educational institutions put into their language program. Nevertheless, the learner gets the benefit when he is familiar with the language. John A. W. Caldwell (2009) and Wolfgang Butzkamm describe that the comprehensible input of the Krashen hypothesis is a necessary condition for language acquisition but not sufficient. These critics describe that learners can crack the code if they can comprehend the input at two levels. A learner must understand what is meant but also how things are expressed. How different components of language are put collectively for producing a message. So this is the principle of duel comprehension. Butzkamm & Caldwell (2009:64) also describes that the dually comprehensible language input is worked as fuel for the language learning process; it is necessary and sufficient for the language learning process.

Krashen divides language learners into two categories; beginner level learners and intermediate level learners. He describes that at the beginner’s level, the teacher must work on his speech and make it comprehensible. Teachers’ demands for output must be low, and learners are forced to speak or provide output as well as grammar instructions must be for high school and older level learners.

At the intermediate level, there must be comprehensible input drawn from the academic text but must be modified and limited. There must be a focus on the meaning not in form. The instructor or teacher must speak slowly and clearly so that listener or learner can understand. A teacher must use short sentences and clauses as well as prepare graphical and visual aids. There must be multi-model teaching techniques as well as students should read aloud, and other learners will try to paraphrase what is said.

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Vygotsky’s Sociocultural theory

This theory describes the development and language learning process of the child. It provides a better understanding of this process of learning as well as adult and peers influence the learning process. Generally, Vygotsky’s theory describes the whole human learning process. Some other scholars extended the scope of the theory for second language acquisition. These scholars elaborate on the process of second language acquisition in sociocultural perspectives. The fundamentals of this theory are that learning and development occur due to sociocultural interactions. According to Vygotsky’s theory, Neurobiology plays an essential role in a higher level of thinking. Moreover, all crucial human cognition forms mature by material and social-environmental interactions. We also can say that cultural and linguistics settings as organized activities, schooling, peer group, family life, and many other things are essential for the development of thinking.

SECOND learning language
Vygotsky’s Sociocultural theory

Language is considered an essential negotiation means in the improvement of a higher mental process of learning according to some Sociocultural theorists. Sociocultural theory aids the progress of these processes. It enables the developing communication to move from the inter psychological to intra psychological form that is from the social to the personal level. It needs the active participation of children with peers and adults in social communications. Lantolf and Pavlenko, 2000 describes the point that the agency and interactions of children enable their learning to construct the understanding through interactions in the environment.

The concept of Scaffolding, Mediation, Internalization

Vygotsky presents an essential concept of ZPD, mediation, scaffolding, internalization, and private speech in his sociocultural theory of learning. Vygotsky describes that ZPD, Zone of Proximal Development is for every child that is in the developmental phase of his cognition. The transformation from inter-mental activity or other regulation, to intra-mental activities or self-regulation, happens in ZPD or Zone of proximal development. According to Vygotsky, the difference between the actual development level as determined by autonomous problem solving as well as the level of potential development as determined through problem-solving under adult guidance or in collaboration with capable peers. Here are two developmental stages as per the Vygotsky. The first stage is where the learner learns with his actual abilities without the help of others, and it is called an actual developmental stage or level. While on the other point learner gets aid and assistance from others, and it is called potential stage or level.

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In the process of learning, it awakens various other developmental processes that work during the interactions of learners with peers and adults. It shows that the company of more knowledgeable people plays a vital role in the learning process. It also points out that the child learns actively under the guidance of the teacher and mentor. Vygotsky’s idea highlights the development of the learner when he/ she works individually and freely. He also points out the difference when learner works under the guidance of more learned people. This theory testifies a child’s development is excellent under the guidance of teachers, peers, and parents. Mitchell and Myles (2004), describe that the domains of knowledge where a child is unable to work independently, in this situation child can get the required results with scaffolding. There are also concept mediation, internalization, and private speech.

Vygotsky considers mediation as the process of representing tools. A child uses these tools to resolve and overcome his problems and achieve his goals. So he considers the language as the most significant tool. Different scholars have treated the idea of mediation differently. Turuk 2008, analyses the term mediation, as a role-playing element of more knowledgeable then of his life. So we can say that child learns in a better way under the supervision of peers, teachers, and parents in a more significant way. A child starts to learn and adopt the behavior, the significant persons such as teachers, mentor transfer the responsibility to the child and reduce their aid. The use of a tool or in simple words, the help or assistance that another person plays in the learning or the cognitive development of a child is called mediation.

Then there is the other important concept of scaffolding in this sociocultural theory of learning. Scaffolding is support or assistance that is given to the child to meet his/her cognitive potential. Donato, 2000, describes scaffolding is a condition or situation organized or planned by the peers, parents, or any other expert here the child can take part for the development of his present-day knowledge and skills to the higher level of performance. So it also can be said that it is the facilitation that is provided to the new learner for the improvement and betterment of his language knowledge. In this type of aid or support novice easily participate under the guidance of an expert. This is a planned situation created by an expert to facilitate the learner in his language learning. Schumm 2006, has its view, and he says that the help provided to the students in their language learning process should be stopped to make learners independent in his learning. In this way, the learner will go independent and work autonomously in their language learning process. Verity 2005, considers the scaffolding as cognitive assistance provided to the learner, it decreases the cognitive burden in the learning goal.


According to the Lantolf and Beckett 2009, internalization is a process through learner uses appropriate social mediation’s tools, cultural artifacts, language, and utilize it to regulate their cognitive activities. Vygotsky 1978, (P.87), himself elaborates internalization is a functioning in child/learner’s cultural development that appears two times or on two shapes. First, it appears on the social side and after it appears on the psychological side. So on the social side, means between the people as an inter psychological category and after it, in the child’s brain as an intra psychological category. Here Vygotsky explains internalization, two planes cognitive development of the child that are social and psychological. So social planes mean the development of a child in the company of parents and peers, teachers and mentors, and after some time learner becomes independent. Lantolf and Thorne 2006, describe internalization is a process from social to an individual level. Brown and Ferrera 1985, also treat internalization in the same way. We can say here, the learner tries to solve his problem in the company of experts and guides, and then he starts working individually.

Private speech

Private speech is constructive in the development of the child’s learning skills. It also enhances the exposure of learner’s achievement, performance, and success. Vygotsky considers private speech as a learner’s/child’s social interaction, and in the end, it becomes inner speech. Smith’s 2007 study is famous as rich in a private speech in the ESL Classroom. This analysis describes that private speech provides a keen look into the learner’s cognitive process. This study also elaborates on the teachers’ access who know the learner’s knowledge they have already known. According to Lantolf and Beckett 2009, learners exercise private speech to offer and appropriate cognitive behavior of themselves. So the fundamental of private speech is it helps learners to overcome the hurdles and obstacles to get success and facilitates problem resolving. This concept is also be interpreted as the first speech of Vygotsky is global and multifunctional. Step by step, it separates into two functionally particular forms. First is the use of speech to communicate other and second speech directed at communicating with the self.

Criticism on the SCT or ZPD

According to Shayer 2002, the application of the Zone of proximal development in exercise is more complicated and problematic. He also says that Vygotsky is failed to offer much about the effective use of ZPD Theory in classroom learning. Piaget suggested that the child’s participation in activities where he is not ready to absorb knowledge, or he is unable to communicate due to the low level of his knowledge, leads him to impose a partner’s view and it will not affect the structure of the actions of the child. Lambert and Clyde 2004 criticize the concept of ZPD, Zone of Proximal Development as a restricted view of learning processes, and it lessens the child’s participation and role in learning and makes him dependant upon other participants.

Applications of Sociocultural Theory, SCT

Second, language learning research is widely influenced by this theory. Theory’s implications and applications are addressed in language learning social context. Furthermore, Donato 2002, describes language learning as a social process and endorses the application of this theory. According to him, meanings are driven through collaboration and coordination. Lantolf and Swain also consider the interaction of peers, teachers, and parents as a useful tool. It also describes whom learners interact with each other and assist them while learning the second language. They work together in focused activities that are very helpful for them. Veronika 2008, points out that though there are certain limitations of Vygotsky ZPD theory, the researchers and scholars conducted various studies on these theories. Here, in theory, a positive view of the learners is presented. The focus of the theory is on the active participation of the learners that are necessary for learning. The original concept of SCT is researched and revived in the language acquisition process. So the theory focuses on the Historical, Cultural, and social artifacts that play an essential role in children’s cognitive development. Vygotsky’s theory of ZPD Revolutionized the pedagogical domain and the development of the psychological concepts of the child.

Concluding Remarks for Sociocultural Theory

Researchers find sociocultural factors are essential for the language learning process. This study describes the role of social factors, peers, teachers, and parents in a child’s language learning. Vygotsky focuses on the historical, cultural, and social artifacts that play a fundamental role in the cognitive developments and potential performances of the child. The use of language, the concept of ZPD, Interaction with peer, and learning is a mediated process and used for Practice in SLA and SLL. In the broader concept, the use of an adaptation of these concepts is a significant idea. Through this social order and framework, learners get insights that can be applied to the Second language learning process. He proved the worth of his ideas in the psychological fields. The role of this concept is linked to the area of general psychology as well as in educational psychology. So we can say that all these fields get an influence on his innovative, bold, and original ideas.

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Speech Act Theory to Pragmatic Theory of learning

Contribution of the J.L.Austin
  1. Austin was a British linguist and Philosopher of language. He presented him this Speech act Theory in 1975 in is book name how to do things with words. According to Austin’s view language is a system of action, not a way of expression. The language is used by people to assert objects, but they also do things. After that, John Searle and Austin’s followers brought this theory to a higher range and got very much importance. Here in this study, we will discuss the journey of the Speech Act theory to Pragmatic theory. According to earlier philosophers of language describe that communication was based on units of words, symbols, and sentences. Basic units of communication are the production of Words, Phrases, symbols and sentences, and this process goes through when the speech process moves forward. Some critics as Christopher Brown and Greig E. Henderson also call this theory the theory of action.

    Krashen’s Monitor Model and Vygotsky’s Sociocultural Theories of Learning
    speech Act Theory to Pragmatic Theory of learning


Significance, Contribution, and Claim of the theory


The basic point of the theory is that the meaning of utterances is varying from the meaning perceived by the hearer and user of the language according to its use. He claims two types of utterance here. He called the first point as Constative utterance and the second as Performative Utterance.

What are the Contrastive Utterances

This utterance describes the situation in relation to right or wrong.

What are the Performative Utterances

These utterances do not express anything, but the emotion, feelings, attitudes, and thoughts of the linguistic performer act as the central unit. Here Austin also describes the categories of linguistic acts. He divides these linguistic acts into three subcategories.

Locutionary Acts

The acts that are used to describe and tell something that has plain and understandable meaning to express something.

Illocutionary Acts

These are the acts that are used as a warning to someone. In such acts, the speaker wants the other person need not do something.

Prelocutionary Acts

These acts present the critical condition or situation and show his power to convince or frighten the addressee into avoiding such things.

Explanation of the Theory

Here we can say that the primary concern of Austin is language in use that is called utterance, and he differentiates utterance from the sentences. Every utterance performs a particular function and does not always depend on truth condition. Here he introduces the term of Felicity conditions. Here are various felicity conditions linked to every kind of utterance. The requirement for the fulfillment of a felicity condition, the content of the sentence must be real as well as there must be the adequacy of the circumstances. This means there must the truthfulness in the mind of the speaker as well as a listener also trust the speaker. The same thing applies to Baptism, institutional utterances,, and declarative utterances, and these utterances intend to be true. In simple words, we need to say something when it is needed, and we have justification for doing that, e.g. we only need to say ‘it is raining today’ if we have a reason to say this thing. So declarative utterances are actions due to their felicity conditions.

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Moreover, they are also called speech acts. There are different kinds of speech acts as promises, statements, declarations, etc. These speech acts have enough felicity conditions that are conventionally and contextually determined and have not any connection with truth conditions. The felicity of an utterance depends upon different conventions. Austin not only describes the concept of performative utterances but also shows that all type of utterances is called speech acts and perform specific functions and activities. He Calls them everyday actions in which the produced effects are purely conventional. Furthermore, more importantly, these are not natural effects.  In a more precise way, Austin Specifies three ways in which an utterance can perform an action or do something.

Role of Alocution, Anilocution, prelocution

One person uses Allocution in a sentence to describe something in a particular context. E.g. if we say, ‘ we go early to bed’  There is also the concept of Anilocution to describe the state of affairs lawfully and kindly. The concept of prelocution is used to make an effect on the audience. So the promise of going to bed is locution. Then there is the concept of Illocution is the fact that is promised.

Moreover, the prelocution is the reality by promising; we are reassuring our parents. These are three modalities in the saying act, and the most important is the generalized illocutionary aspect of implying that any utterance is conventionally determined. Illocutionary acts need customary operations to be performed. According to these actions, the hearer will take the performance of the utterance as neutering the world in a conventional or legal sense. Aspects of the illocutionary actions explain the commitment they necessary convey. To perform an illocutionary act is to change the world in the sense that it advantages to an illocutionary effect that can be characterized as obligation and permission. For example, when we make a promise, ‘we are committed to keeping our promise’. In making a statement, we are committed to proving our statement right. This serious-mindedness and obligations come when conventions are ruling the speech acts. These are the real alterations in the course of happenings, even if they cannot be but conventional effects.

These speech acts or accounts of utterances also describes the point that speech has conditions of use ascertained by the felicity condition. So each utterance has presuppositions, commitments, and implications or applications. E.g. if I asked someone for food, then it is presupposed that I am hungry and have eaten food recently. These are the pragmatic conditions that are considered necessary according to the analysis of Grice. In these pragmatic conditions, they will gain a cognitive role.

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Moreover, according to Strawson and Austin, presuppositions are speechless and do not bring any meaning or context. These only refer to something already existed. Intentions are not given a more critical role. Austin also criticizes any entreaty to intent to describe the commitment taken by speech acts. In this way, it unveils the revolutionary ideas and explains that spoken can change the course of consequences.

Contribution of John Searle

He was Austin’s student at oxford university. He works on the Autanian claims and makes it a more refined, mentalistic, and realistic thought. If we observe, then we find then Austin tries to escape from the analytical analysis of truth-conditional orthodox while Searle tries to define and analyze of speech act phenomenon according to this orthodox. His study transforms typical language analysis in a logical study of the speech acts and observes it as a semantic phenomenon. According to Searle, a speech act is formed by an Illocutionary power and a prepositional context. I have an illocutionary force of a promise and propositional content.

Illocutionary Points and Searle

According to Searle speakers can get five illocutionary points in their speaking and utterance. He names them as Assertive illocutionary point, Commissive illocutionary point, Directive illocutionary point, Declaratory illocutionary point, Expressive illocutionary point. Searle describes that a speech act is the essential ingredient of linguistic communication in the form of words, phrases, sentences, and sounds that complete the purposes of speakers. Moreover, the primary motive of the speech act is to understand the intention of the speaker or user.

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Criticisms of Speech Act Theory

The influence of the Speech act theory on pragmatics is at a higher level. Nevertheless, some of the linguistics scholars criticize it. They focused on the sentence and their isolation from the context. Some critics consider that the illocutionary force of a speech act can not take the form the form of a sentence as Searle consider it. A sentence is a grammatical part or unit while a speech act is a communicative function, so both are different from each other.

Though the contribution of Austin and Searle is remarkable in the field of Language learning theories. They play a tremendous role in this, but. After these scholars, there was Halliday who takes this field of study into the real heights.

Here we are going to discuss the role of Halliday in the field of language learning and pragmatics.

M.A.K.Halliday and Pragmatics theory of language

  1. K. or Micheal Alexander Kirkwood Halliday was an English Linguist. Halliday developed and presented a language model that is called SFL or Systematic functional linguistics. He also called his grammar as systematic functional grammar, SFG. Halliday considers language as a Semiotic System. He calls it System of Semiotic as a resource of meaning not the system of signs. According to Halliday, Language is a system of Meaning potential, and He describes linguistics that “how people exchange meaning by languaging”. According to Halliday, he is a generalist, and he observes language from every possible angle. He describes his work as wandering the highways and bypass of the language.

The grammar of Halliday differs from the traditional grammar of individual words and their classification. His model considers grammar as how words portray meaning and how meanings are coded into words. He discusses all spoken and written modes in all varieties, dialects, and registers of the language. Here is his model: Three regulations of grammar are available. The first point is the social exchange of listener and speaker or reader and writer. The second point is the representation of the inner and outer worlds. And the third point is the wording of these meanings in written and spoken text clause level to the next level.


Linguistics Theory and Description

Halliday’s first book, An Introduction to Functional Grammar, was published in 1985. After the publication of this book, his grammatical theory and description became popular. He published second, the third, and fourth edition of his state of the artwork in 1994,2006, and 2014. He and Christian Matthiessen coauthored his third edition. He introduced the concept of lexicogrammar instead of traditional grammar. According to Halliday, Lexis and Grammar are from the same phenomenon. So his this notion is based on the theory of meaning potential or social semiotic resource. He distinguishes the descriptive from theoretical categories. According to Halliday, the interrelations of the theoretical categories construct an abstract model of language. Theoretical works of the Halliday are based on English and Mandarin languages. The arguments of Halliday’s are against some traditional views that language is associated with generative tradition. He discusses the point that language can not be compared with the set of all grammatical sentences, whether that set is formed by infinite or finite. He is also against the use of formal logic in linguistics theories. He considers this logic as an irrelevant thing from the understanding of language, and he also considers the use of these approaches destructive to linguistics.

Krashen’s Monitor Model and Vygotsky’s Sociocultural Theories of Learning
Linguistics Theory

Halliday’s grammar and its study

In his studies of grammar, he divides it into three basic categories that are also categorized into subcategories. The primary categories of Halliday’s grammar are; Fundamental categories, grammar and system, and grammar as functional. Here we will discuss these points one by one in short.

Fundamental categories

Halliday’s first work in the field of grammar is ‘categories of the theories of grammar’. In his first work of grammar, he describes the four basic categories of grammar; unit, structure, class. Though mentioned categories are considered higher order of abstraction, he considers them as a necessary element for the coherence of the grammar and its place in language. He also proposes a rank scale from highest to smallest level as a sentence, clause, phrase, word, and morpheme.

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Grammar as a system

He studies and describes grammar as a system. According to him, the phenomenon of language must be south in a relationship as a system rather than among structure, and he also calls it a cheap paradigm. From that time, these things are essential where the speaker needs a choice. Due to the orientation of choice, his systemic grammar is considered a semiotic account of grammar. Here every linguistic act involves choice and choices are made on different scales. Moreover, the system network is drawn by systemic grammars.

Grammar as Functional

Halliday claims that grammar is not a system but a systematic Functional. He argues that to know that functional analysis about the working of language. Halliday calls his early grammatical description as notes on transitivity as well as the theme in English. This also includes the reference to four parts of the English grammar that describes the four communicative functions of a language. The four functions of a language are experimental, logical, discoursal, and the interpersonal or speech functional. Later on, he renamed the discoursal functional as textual function. His notion of language functions or metafunctions became part of his linguistic theory.

Halliday describes that the first and fundamental work of language is acts of meaning. He describes these things in his volume 10 of his papers named language in society. In this volume, he describes the connection between society or social structure and language.

According to Halliday, we need language for communication in society. Here we are forced to interact and communicate with the people as well as our environment. For young ones, language words can serve one function at a time, but as we grow old language phenomenon becomes complex, a single word provides various meanings.

His theory describes the seven functions of the language. These seven functions of the language are instrumental, Regulatory, Interactional, Personal, Representational, Heuristic, and Imaginative. Here we will elaborate these functions a little.

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Instrumental functions describe that the Child uses language to meet his/ her particular needs. As a drink, Food, If he is hungry and feeling thirst.

Regulatory function describes the language is used to influence the others in the society or tell others what they should do as some caregiver provides something to the child.

The interactional function of the language describes how people use language to develop their relationships in society.

The private function of the language points out the fact that how people use language to express an opinion in the society or how people describes their feelings, emotions, identity, and opinion with the help of language. As someone says, We like doctors who care for their patients.

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The representational function of the language is used to express facts, information, and figures as We are going to shop.

Heuristic Function of language is used to learn and explore the environment or the use of use to get information regarding the environment, as it is raining.

The imaginative function of the language is used in plays or the use of language to tell stories, jokes, and create imagery environment as a monster is coming.

Applications of the theory

Halliday describes that as a child moves forward in the mother tongue, these functions of the language provide him with a pathway to the metafunction and function of language. Moreover, between the two levels of language as expression and content, there is another level penetrated. So instead of one level of the content, there are two levels, semantic and lexicogrammar. The level of expression also consists of two levels phonetics and phonology. Some time the pragmatic approach of the Halliday seems like an advanced copy of Noam Chomsky’s formalist approach. Halliday describes language as a naturally occurring object in the real contextual use in a broad topological range of languages. Chomskyan Critics also criticizes that Halliday’s work reassembles to platonic idealization and is not acceptable.


  • Lantolf, J. P. (2000). Introducing sociocultural theory. In J. P. Lantolf (Ed.), Sociocultural theory and second
  • language learning (pp. 1-26). Oxford: Oxford University Press.
  • Krashen, S. (2003). Explorations in Language Acquisition and Use. Portsmouth: Heinemann.
  • Halliday M.A.K., Hasan R. 1989. Spoken and written English. Oxford University Press.
  • David J, Arus J, and Zamorano-Mansilla J. 2010. Systemic Functional Grammar of Spanish: A Contrastive Study with English, Continuum.

Written & Reviewed by; Muhammad Asad Kasra,


M.Phil Scholar, Riphah Institute of Language and Literature, Riphah International University Lahore, Pakistan.



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