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Sophie Bonaque

on 8 October 2015

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The Natural Approach is a product of the 1980s.

In 1977, Tracy Terrell (a teacher of Spanish in California) proposes a "new" philosophy of language teaching, he called it the Natural Approach.

Stephen Krashen joined him and together they identified this approach with "traditional" approaches to language teaching.

Krashen and Terrell approach course organisation from two points of view:
The Natural Approach incorporates
the "Naturalistic" principles
Emphasis on exposure/input (rather than practice).

Long period focused on what the learners hear before they try to produce language.

Willingness to use written as a source of input.
The natural Approach has much in common with the Natural Method.

They can be seen as synonymous terms.

But, there are important differences between those two approaches
The Natural Method (older)
comes from the Direct Method (1900s)
It consisted of a series of monologues by the teacher with exchanges of question and answer between the instructor and the pupil - all in the foreign language.
Pantomime Gesticulation

Attentive listening Repetition
The same principles of naturalistic language learning used with young children
Communication is the primary function of language.
The focus is on teaching communicative abilities
- They reject the Audiolingual Method.

- The primacy of meaning: the importance of vocabulary:
"The most important thing is to get the words in"

- The input hypothesis:
FORMULA: " i + 1 "

- No particular novelty except that messages are considered of primacy importance in the Natural Approach.

The theory of learning is inspired by Chomsky:

- 'The potential to learn a language was an innate property of the humand mind.'

- 'All that was needed was exposure to language and the need to communicate.'

The acquisition/Learning hypothesis
- Acquisition: it is the "natural" way,
an unconscious process.
- Learning: it refers to a process of conscious rules, a formal teaching.
The monitor hypothesis
Three conditions limit the success of this use:

- Time

- Focus on the form

- Knowledge of rules
The natural order hypothesis
The acquisition of grammatical structures proceeds in a predictable order.
Erros are signs of naturalistic developmental processes
The input hypothesis
It involves four main issues:

- The hypothesis relates to acquisition and not to learning.

- People acquire best by understanding input that is slightly beyond theire current level of competence.

- The ability to speak fluently cannot be taught directly, it 'emerges'.

- If there is a sufficient quantity of comprehensible input, " i + 1 " will usually be provided automatically
The affective filter hypothesis
The affective filter is based on the learner's emotional state or attitudes
A low affective filter is desirable.
Three kinds of affective variables:
- Motivation - Self-confidence - Anxiety
- As much comprehensible input as possible must be presented.
- Comprehension is important.
- The focus in the classroom should be on listening and reading.
- In order to lower affective filter, the input should be interesting and so contribute to a relaxed classroom atmosphere.
First, they list goals at which the Natural Approach aims:

- Basic personal communication skills: oral
- Basic personal communication skills: written

- Academic learning skills: oral
- Academic learning skills: written

The second point of view holds that "the purpose of a language course will vary according to the needs of the students and their particular interest."
Emphasis is on presenting comprehensible input in the target language
- Minimal stress for students

- When the students are ready to begin talking, the teacher provides comprehensible language & simple response opportunities.

- The teacher talks slowly & distinctly.

- Command-based activities from TPR are used.

- Direct Method activities...

- Group-work activities.
learners decide on when to speak, what to speak about and what linguistic expressions to use in speaking.
Pre-production stage:
no need for a respond.
Early-production stage:
they respond with single words or short phrases.
Speech-emergent phase:
students involve themselves.

1. to provide information about their specific goals.
2. To take an active role.
3. To decide when to start producing speech.
4. To decide with the teacher the amount of time.
Three central roles:
- The teacher is the primary source of comprehensible input in the target language.

- The teacher creates a classroom atmosphere that is friendly and interesting.

- The teacher must choose and orchestrate a rich mix of classroom activities.
Primary goal is to make classroom activities as meaningful as possible, by relating classroom activities to the real world and by fostering real communication among the learners.
- Materials come from the world of realia rather than from the textbook.

- The primary aim of material is to promote comprehension and communication.

- Pictures and visual aids are essential.

- Games in general are seen as useful classroom materials.
The selection, reproduction and collection of materials place a considerable burden on the Natural Approach teacher.
What characterizes Natural Approach activities is the use of familiar techniques within the framework of a method that focuses on providing comprehensible input and a relaxed classroom environment.

This atmosphere must provide comprehensible input, minimize learner anxiety and maximize learner self-confidence
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