The Natural Approach | Methods and Approaches of Language Teaching

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Information about The Natural Approach | Methods and Approaches of Language Teaching

Published on September 28, 2008

Author: AjaanRobCMU



The Natural Approach is a method of language teaching developed by Stephen Krashen and Tracy Terrell in the late 1970s and early 1980s.

Compiled & Adapted byAjaan Rob Hatfield, M.Ed. Revised 06-2013

IntroductionNatural Approach:Stephen Krashen and TracyTerrell developed the "NaturalApproach" in the early eighties(Krashen and Terrell, 1983),based on Krashens‟ theories aboutsecond language acquisition.2

This acquisition-focused approachsees communicative competenceprogressing through three stages:(a) Aural comprehension,(b) Early speech production, and(c) Speech activities, all fostering "natural"language acquisition, much as a childwould learn his/her native tongue. 3

Following an initial "silent period",comprehension should precedeproduction in speech, as the lattershould be allowed to emerge in naturalstages or progressions.4

Background Historical Context70‟ was a fruitful era in secondlanguage research.Noam Chomsky explained a newtheory of language (Acquisition andLearning).5

Background Historical ContextInnovate methods for language teaching:Community Language Learning Charles Currant (1972)Suggestopedia Lozanov (1979)The Silent Way Caleb Gattegno (1972)Total Physical Response James Asher (1977)The Natural Approach Krashen and Terrell. (1983)6

OverviewIn the Natural Approach theteacher speaks only the targetlanguage and class time iscommitted to providing input foracquisition.7

Students may use either thelanguage being taught or their firstlanguage. Errors in speech are notcorrected; however homework mayinclude grammar exercises that willbe corrected.8

Goals for the class emphasizethe students being able use thelanguage "to talk about ideas,perform tasks, and solve problems."This approach aims to fulfill therequirements for learning andacquisition, and does a great job indoing it.9

Its main weakness is that allclassroom teaching is to somedegree limited in its ability to beinteresting and relevant to allstudents.10

L2 AcquisitionTheory CurriculumThe Natural ApproachCombinesLearningProcessSpokenProductionDuringFocused on11

Krashens‟ theories of second languageacquisition, and his five hypotheses.“Acquisition requiresmeaningful interaction in thetarget language - naturalcommunication - in whichspeakers are concerned notwith the form of theirutterances but with themessages they are conveyingand understanding.”Stephen Krashen12

The Acquisition/Learning HypothesisLanguage acquisition (anunconscious processdeveloped through usinglanguage meaningfully) isdifferent from languagelearning (consciouslylearning or discoveringrules about a language)and language acquisition isthe only way competencein a second language candevelop. 13

A learning theory shouldrespond to these two questions:“What are the psycholinguisticand cognitive processes involved inlanguage teaching?”“What are the conditions thatneed to be met in order for theselearning processes to be activated?”14

Stephen Krashens‟ MonitorTheory, which is based on The NaturalApproach, answers both questions bydistinguishing between the “acquisition”and “learning” processes, and bydescribing the type of input thelearners receive, which should be attheir level, interest, of sufficientquantity, and in low-anxiety contexts,and these are the conditions.15

Tracy D. Terrell (Natural Approach),and James Asher (Total PhysicalResponse) are examples ofmethods based on this learningtheory.16

Charles A. Curran‟s CounselingLearning and Caleb Gattegno‟s SilentWay also focus on this learning theory,but they focus primarily on theconditions more than in the processes.Their concern is directed to theatmosphere of the classroom, and theyseek for motivation, confidence andsecurity within the students.17

Theory of LanguageThe essence of language is meaning.Vocabulary not grammar is the heart oflanguage.It emphasized “Comprehensible Input”,distinguishing between „acquisition‟ – anatural subconscious process, and „learning‟– a conscious process. It is argued thatlearning cannot lead to acquisition. Thefocus is on meaning, not form (structure,grammar).18

“The best methods… are therefore those that supplycomprehensible input in low anxietysituations, containing messages thatstudents really want to hear.These methods do not forceearly production in the secondlanguage, but allow students toproduce when they are ready,recognizing that improvementcomes from supplyingcommunicative and comprehensibleinput, and not from forcing andcorrecting production." StephenKrashen19

Theory of LanguageThe Natural Approach:Reflecting the cognitive psychologyand humanistic approach prominent in thefield of education at that time, the NaturalApproach shifted the culture of thelanguage classroom 180 degrees andbrought a sense of community to thestudents by their sharing of the experienceof learning the same language together.20

Theory of Learning“Languageacquisition does notrequire extensiveuse of consciousgrammatical rules,and does notrequire tediousdrill.”Stephen Krashen 21

The Natural Order HypothesisGrammaticalstructures areacquired in apredictable orderand it does littlegood to try to learnthem in anotherorder.22

Input HypothesisPeople acquirelanguage bestfrom messagesthat are justslightly beyondtheir currentcompetence: i+123

The Monitor HypothesisConscious learningoperates only as amonitor or editorthat checks orrepairs the output ofwhat has beenacquired.24

The Affective Filter HypothesisThe learnersemotional state canact as a filter thatimpedes or blocksinput necessary forlanguage acquisition.25

Design: ObjectivesObjectivesDesigned to givebeginners/ intermediatelearner communicativeskills.Four broad areas; basicpersonal communicativeskills (speaking/listening);academic learning skills(oral/written)26

Design: SyllabusSyllabusThe syllabus forthe Natural Approachis a communicativesyllabus.Based on a selectionof communicativeactivities and topicsderived from learnerneeds.27

Types of learning techniques and activitiesComprehensibleinput is presentedin the targetlanguage, usingtechniques suchas TPR, mime andgesture.Group techniquesare similar toCommunicativeLanguage Teaching.Learners start to talkwhen they are ready.28

Learner roles:Focused on meaningful and vocabularyShould not try andlearn a language inthe usual sense, butshould try and losethemselves inactivities involvingmeaningfulcommunication.Meaningful Vocabulary29

Teacher roles:Teachers should provide "comprehensible input“ (i+1)The teacher is theprimary source ofcomprehensibleinput. Must createpositive low-anxietyclimate. Must chooseand orchestrate arich mixture ofclassroom activities.30

Roles of materialsThe world of relia ratherthan text books. Visual aids areessential like schedules,brochures, advertisement,maps, books of a levelappropriate to the learners.31

ProcedurePresentation of a situation or contextthrough a brief dialogue or several mini-dialogues, preceded by a motivationalactivity relating the dialogue to learners‟experiences and interest.These are the steps to follow inplanning a lesson using thecommunicative or the Natural approachto second-language teaching:32

ProcedureThis includes a discussion ofthe functional and situational roles,settings, topics at the level offormality or informality that functionor situation demands.33

Procedure / ProcessBrainstorming ordiscussion to establishthe vocabulary andexpressions to be used toaccomplish thecommunicative intent.Includes a framework ormeans of structuring aconversation or exchangeto achieve the purpose ofthe speakers.Questions and answersbased on the dialoguetopic and situation:Inverted, wh- questions,yes/no, either/or andopen-ended questions.34

Procedure / ProcessStudy of the basiccommunicativeexpressions in thedialogue or one ofthe structures thatexemplifies thefunction, usingpictures, real objects,or dramatization toclarify the meaning.Learner discovery ofgeneralizations or rulesunderlying the functionalexpression or structure,with model examples onthe whiteboard,underlining the importantfeatures, using arrows orreferents where feasible.35

Procedure / ProcessOral recognitionand interpretativeactivities includingoral productionproceeding fromguided to freercommunicationactivities.Oral evaluation oflearning with guideduse of language andquestions/answers,e.g. "How would youask your friend to________________?And how would youask me to_________?"36

Procedure / ProcessReading and/orcopying of thedialogues withvariations forreading/writingpractice.To complete thelesson cycle, provideopportunities to applythe language learnedthe day before innovel situations forthe same or a relatedpurpose.37

ConclusionThe Natural Approach adopts techniquesand activities from different sources butuses them to provide comprehensibleinput.Language AcquisitionLanguage Processing 38

The use of the term „NaturalApproach’ rather than ‘Method’highlights the development of a moveaway from ‘method’ which implies aparticular set of features to be followed,almost as to ‘approach’ which startsfrom some basic principles developed inthe design and practice in teaching andlearning.39

It is now widely recognized thatthe diversity of contexts requiresan informed, eclectic approach.40

“It has been realized thatthere never was and probablynever will be a method for all, andthe focus in recent years has beenon the development of classroomtasks and activities which areconsonant with what we knowabout second language acquisition,and which are also in keeping withthe dynamics of the classroomitself” (Nunan 1991: 228).To quote Nunan:41

Summary of The Natural MethodCurriculumTeacherMotivationClassroomLearningEnvironmentInstructionalStrategiesAcquisition42

Theory of languageThe Communicative view of languageis the focus behind “The Natural Approach”.Particular emphasis is laid on language as aset of messages that can be understood.43

Theory of languageLanguage is a vehicle forcommunicating meanings and messagesCommunicative approachThe focus on meaning not formVocabulary is stressed (Lexicon)Formula i + 144

Theory of learning - The Natural Approachis based on the following tenets:Language acquisition (an unconsciousprocess developed through using languagemeaningfully) is different from languagelearning (consciously learning or discoveringrules about a language) and languageacquisition is the only way competence in asecond language occurs.(The Acquisition/Learning Hypothesis)45

Grammatical structures areacquired in a predictable order and itdoes little good to try to learn them inanother order.(The Natural Order Hypothesis)People acquire language best frommessages that are just slightly beyondtheir current competence:i+1 (The Input hypothesis)46

Conscious learning operates only asa monitor or editor that checks or repairsthe output of what has been acquired.(The Monitor Hypothesis)The learners emotional state canact as a filter that impedes or blocksinput necessary for languageacquisition.(The Affective Filter Hypothesis)47

48Objectives:Design: Specific objectives depend onlearners‟ needs, skills and level.Syllabus:Typical goals for language courses orparticular needs and interest ofstudents topics and situations.

49Learners’ Roles:Processor of comprehensible input.Pre-production stageEarly production stageSpeech emergent phaseLearner to learner interactionencourage in pair & small groupGuesser - Immerser

50Teachers’ Roles:Primary source of comprehensive inputCreates atmosphere - learner centeredFacilitator - Orchestrate classroomactivitiesEdu-actor – props user

51Types of learning techniques and activities:Comprehensible input is presented in thetarget language, using techniques suchas TPR, mime and gesture.Group techniques are similar toCommunicative Language Teaching.Learners start to talk when they areready.

52ProcedureThe Natural Approach adoptstechniques and activities from differentsources but uses them to providecomprehensible input.Language is a tool for communicationLanguage function over Linguistic formComprehension before production - task

53AssessmentCommunicative effectiveness.Fluency over accuracy.Task based oriented.No error correction unless errorsinterfere with communication

References: Cook, V. website Krashen, S. (1985) The Input Hypothesis. London: Longman Krashen, S. & Terrell, T.D. (1983), The Natural Approach, Pergamon Nunan, David (ed) 2003 Practical English LanguageTeachingMcGraw Hill. Nunan, David 1989 Designing Tasks for the CommunicativeClassroom. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press Richards, J., & Rodgers, T. (2001). Approaches and methods inlanguage Teaching (2nd ed.). Cambridge: Cambridge UniversityPress.

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