The Natural Approach is a somewhat radical approach in language teaching. By radical I mean that it was often anti-everything that was happening in language teaching at the time of its development. Now, the Natural Approach is considered a fringe but not too shocking in terms of the philosophy behind it.
In this post, we will look at the assumptions, curriculum and of the Natural Approach
The Natural Approach is based on cognitivism and starts with the assumption that language learning emerges naturally if students are given appropriate exposure and conditions.
The focus is always upon the meaning of words and grammar is not focused upon. There is no need to explicitly analyze the grammatical structure of a language. Instead, the Natural Approach, students need time to develop gradually a knowledge of the rules. The language experience must always be slightly beyond the students ability as this stretches the student to continue to grow.
The Natural Approach also encourages maintaining an enjoyable and warm classroom environment. This is believed to help with motivation, self-confidence, and anxiety.
The Natural Approach is intended for beginners in a language. Therefore, the most basic skills are acquired from the use of this approach. The learner plays a role in the development of the curriculum. They are expected to do the following.
- Share their goals for learning the language
- Deciding when they want to beginning to talk in the target language
- Make sure the communication in the class is comprehensible
The teacher’s role is to provide clear examples of the target language. The teacher is also expected to provide a friendly warm atmosphere of learning. Lastly, teacher needs to provide a variety of learning experiences.
The teacher achieves these goals through the use of games and group activities. Singing is another aspect of the Natural Approach as well. Basically, the students experience the language in a fun, low stress environment. Through this easy-going experience, language acquisition takes place.
The Natural Approach to language learning is distinct in its cognitive focused yet relax environment emphasis. This approach is highly useful in training children in particular in acquiring a new language as the focus is more on fun the the academic discipline of learning.