Silent Period

Iddings et al. states, “As described in Krashen’s (1981) monitor theory, the silent period characterizes an early stage of L2 development during which some L2 learners, especially children, do not try to speak in the L2″ (568). Krashen proposed the silent period as a

“preproduction stage of SLA when a second language learner (SLL) is ‘unable or unwilling’ to speak in her/his developing second language” because they “need to time to listen to others talk, to digest what they hear, to develop receptive vocabulary, and to observe others’ actions” (Bligh 3).

Not only is the stage a temporary one (Le Pichon and De Jonge 427), but Krupa-Kwiatkowski is careful to add that the silent period does not mean that the learner ceases to speak altogether, but rather that it “is marked by a dramatic drop in vocalization directed to speakers of the second language and sometimes by a total refusal to respond to them” (135). There is some debate over the duration of the silent period, which can last anywhere from just days to over a year.


Bachorski, Melissa. “Silent Period.” Prezi, 21 March 2014,


Bligh, Caroline. The Silent Experiences of Young Bilingual Learners: A Sociocultural Study into the Silent Period. Springer, 2014.

DaSilva Iddings, Ana Christina, and Eun-Young Jang. “The Mediational Role of Classroom Practices during the Silent Period: A New-Immigrant Student Learning the English Language in a Mainstream Classroom.” TESOL Quarterly, vol. 42, no. 4, 2008, pp. 567–90. JSTOR,

Krupa-Kwiatkowski, Magdalena. “You Shouldn’t Have Brought Me Here!: Interaction Strategies in the Silent Period of an Inner-Directed Second Language Learner.” Research on Language and Social Interaction, vol. 31, no. 2, 1998, pp. 133-75.

Le Pichon, Emmanuelle, and Maretha de Jonge. “Linguistic and psychological perspectives on prolonged periods of silence in dual-language learners.” International Journal of Bilingual Education and Bilingualism, vol. 19, no. 4, 2016, pp. 426-41.