in a second language, or a first language, without ever producing it. There are several supporting arguments for this intake hypothesis.
First, as mentioned earlier, there are several studies showing that delaying speech in second language instruction, when active listening is provided, causes no delay in attaining proficiency in second language acquisition, and may even be beneficial (for child second language acquisition see Gary, 1975; for adult studies see Asher, 1965, 1966, 1969; Postovsky, 1977). Also, there are suggestive informal accounts of language acquisition in other cultures, where active listening is stressed. Here is Sorenson's (1967) report on the American Indians in the Vaupes River area:
The Indians do not practice speaking a language they do not know well yet. Instead, they passively learn lists of words, forms, phrases in it and familiarize themselves with the sound of its pronunciation... They may make an occasional attempt to speak a new language in an appropriate situation, but if it does not come easily, they will not force it.
Finally, there is the well-established fact from child language acquisition studies that comprehension normally precedes production. Production, in fact, need never occur. Lenneberg (1962) describes a case of congenital dysarthria in an 8-year-old boy who never spoke, but who could understand spoken English perfectly well. Lenneberg noted that:
(A) similar phenomenon in more attenuated form is extremely common. Understanding normally precedes speaking by several weeks or months. This discrepancy is regularly increased in literally all types of developmental speech disorders and is best illustrated in children who have structural deformities in the oral cavity or pharynx and who produce unintelligible speech for years--sometimes throughout life--without the slightest impairment of understanding. Congenitally deaf children also learn to comprehend language in the absence of vocal skills.... However, there is no clear evidence that speaking is ever present in the absence of understanding.
This does not mean that speaking is not of practical importance, and it may be the case that speaking may indirectly promote language acquisition. What may be the case is that speaking, engaging in conversation, encourages intake. "Eavesdropping" (Schumann and Schumann, 1977) may provide the acquirer with a certain amount of intake, but actual conversation, in which the acquirer has at least some control of the topic and in which the acquirer's conversational partner