Applied Linguistics

Natural approach in language teaching/advantages/basics

Natural Approach

In 1977, Tracy Terrell, a Spanish teacher in California presented a new philosophy for language teaching called Natural Approach, which contained naturalistic principles. She teamed up with Stephen Krashen, a linguist at the University of Southern California to work on combining their knowledge and producing a book called The Natural Approach published in 1983.

The Natural Approach takes into account different principles for its development: the Acquisition-Learning hypothesis, the Monitor hypothesis, the Natural Order hypothesis, the Input Information hypothesis, and the Affective Filter hypothesis. These five hypotheses summarize the following for language teaching: as much comprehensible information as possible should be presented, everything that helps to understand is important, listening and reading are essential in class, the Hearing arises on its own, and students’ work should focus more on the communication of meanings than on structures.

The Natural Approach puts more on display than in its practice, it also focuses on the use of emotional preparation for learning, Terrell and Krashen see communication as the most important function of language, what is important in class is hearing and reading and then the conversation arises on its own.

The role of the teacher is to use the target language in communication and listening situations without resorting to the first language or grammatical analysis. The teacher’s presentation revolves around images and objects, the teacher must speak slowly and clearly, the questions are asked gradually, that is, where students can first answer yes or no until when they can answer with words they have heard from the teacher. The teacher can also carry out activities with the students such as commands, mimics, gestures, and practice of structures based on situations, etc.

Students listen before trying to produce the language until they feel ready, however at the beginning, they can respond to requests or questions from the teacher in other ways, the conversation is done by the students themselves, they can work in pairs or groups, have an active role in achieving your specific goals of understandable input information. Finally, the students decide with the teacher the amount of time they will dedicate to the study of grammar, completing exercises, and correcting them, the latter two may be without the help of the teacher or the teacher.

Basics of the Natural Approach What is natural approach in language teaching?

This approach is based on the theory and research-based on Krashen’s ideas, known as Krashen Language Acquisition Theory, whose fundamental aspects are the basis of the design and procedures of this approach and are presented below:

1. The acquisition/learning hypothesis

The acquisition is the unconscious process of developing linguistic knowledge and skills for their understanding and use in communicative situations. It is the natural way to develop proficiency in a language. The best example of acquisition is the process through which children develop their mother tongue. What is natural approach in language teaching?
Learning is the conscious process of developing rules about the language. For learning to take place, formal teaching is needed.
Learning, according to this theory, does not lead to acquisition.

2. The monitor’s hypothesis

According to the above, what has been learned only works as a monitor that corrects or edits the sentences produced by the acquired linguistic system. It is thought that it is the acquired linguistic system that initiates the statements of communication, while the learned one check or corrects those statements.

3. The natural order hypothesis

It maintains that the acquisition of linguistic elements has a predictable order. In other words, in the acquisition of a language, there are elements or structures that will be acquired more easily than others.

4. The input information hypothesis

It tries to relate the linguistic information to which the student is exposed with the process of acquiring it. The input information is the set of statements that are exposed to the student and the language in which they are expressed. The greater the understanding of them, the greater the acquisition. When the amount of understandable input is substantial, the acquisition takes place automatically. Similarly, the theory establishes that a student with a level X of language proficiency can go to a level X + 1 if he understands input information with structures or elements of level X + 1.
At the same time, it establishes the importance of the situation, the context, the extralinguistic information (mimicry, gestures, images, etc.), and the way in which the input information is presented in its understanding by the second language learner. In this sense, the approach highlights the importance of also using special codes for people with limited linguistic competence, such as “speech for foreigners” which consists of using a slower pace, repetition, reformulation, the use of questions that admit answers. yes/no, among other elements that maximize compression.
Additionally, the information selected as input must have a level appropriate to the level of competence to maximize understanding and therefore acquisition. However, it must necessarily incorporate structures of higher levels of competence so that the progress of the student is taking place.
Finally, he argues that the ability to speak fluently cannot be taught directly, but rather emerges naturally when the student has accumulated sufficient linguistic knowledge from understanding the input material.

5. Hypothesis of the affective filter

For Krashen, emotions, and attitudes influence the level of understanding and therefore acquisition, creating an affective filter that allows, prevents, or blocks the passage of input information that will generate the acquisition of the language. Determining factors of this affective filter are student motivation, self-confidence, and anxiety. The level of each of the above is determined by many variables, both personal and linked to the learning context.

Teacher role

The Natural Approach demands a central role from the teacher, much greater than in other communication methods. In your classes, you must generate a constant flow of linguistic information and provide a wide variety of extralinguistic supports that facilitate interpretation; It must also create an interesting and relaxed classroom environment, which guarantees a low affective filter for learning; is responsible for selecting and organizing varied activities adapted to the contents and contexts, choosing the most appropriate material for the needs and interests of the students. Now, as it seeks to encourage fluency, the correction of errors by the teacher must be measured.

Role of the student

 Within this approach it is commented that the responsibility of the students consists mainly of providing information about their needs and objectives so that the acquisition activities are adapted to them; learn and use conversation control techniques to regulate input; decide when to start producing in the target language; agree with the teacher the amount of time that will be devoted to the different learning activities. Consequently, the role of learners changes according to their stage of language development, their decisions about when to speak, what to say, and what language expressions to use. What is natural approach in language teaching?

Presence of grammar What is natural approach in language teaching?

it is established that, although Krashen and Terrell recognize the grammatical structure of the lexical elements in the messages, they come to consider that this element (grammar) does not need an explicit analysis or attention from the teacher, the student, or teaching materials.

        It is important to mention that the greatest contribution of the Natural Approach does not lie in the techniques it uses but in the use it makes of them in practical activities focused more on understanding and meaning than on the production of grammatically correct sentences and sentences.


  1. Gone are the classrooms full of students and the strenuous grammar classes that made many give up their interest in learning English. Even today, there is no longer talk of learning, but of acquiring the new language. A situation that makes it essential that in order to compete, schools develop their own and novel methods, where the use of technology and the simplicity of the programs have taken over the market, and incidentally, the preference of the students.
  2. For this reason, the trend of courses in the country is directed towards these techniques, which go down the path of personalization and the use of the natural learning method for some, or the communicative method for others, which in the long run becomes the same system followed by children to learn to speak their mother tongue.
  3. The idea is that people learn to speak English in the same way that they learned to speak their own language as children: by listening, seeing and repeating; We do not ignore grammar, we simply do not work with exhaustive explanations, says Jesús Ortíz, Academic Director of a school that offers personalized courses for executives.
  4. The objective of the technique is to lead the student to think in English, to avoid translation, and to associate the words with codes. For example, if you say door, don’t think of the word door, but of the object itself.
  5. In this way, the students become familiar with the constructions and idioms of the new language and unconsciously also acquire the natural structures, which are then reinforced with written exercises and practical explanations.
  6. Research carried out to develop new teaching systems shows that speakers use languages ​​with specific patterns, which vary by small percentages according to the activity carried out.
  7. Thus, 60 percent of the time is listened to, 30% is spoken, 5% of the time is read and the remaining 5 percent is written. That is why current methods are aimed at initially developing listening and oral skills.
  8. However, it is not about memorizing dialogue or repeating like a parrot; a pedagogical technique is necessary to obtain positive results.
  9. There must be a methodology so that, with very clear, very specific steps, the adult is induced to speak. In our case, the method includes questions, answers, and performance techniques, among other exercises, explains Diego Aristizábal, Regional Manager of a multinational with 120 years of experience in the natural learning method.
  10. Experiential experiences Another of the widely used practices today are classes outside the traditional study sites.
  11. Outings to parks, pizzerias, shopping centers, social gatherings, and talks in bars introduce students to a more realistic environment that facilitates the production of their own language.
  12. According to studies provided by professors from the University of Surrey and Cambridge University Press, the motivations created by a semi-natural context allow the student to produce the language as naturally as it is required, with the mistakes of those who live a learning process, but with great fluidity. What is natural approach in language teaching?
  13. The customization of the courses is another of the processes that are lived in the country. More and more language schools work in small groups or offer personalized courses.
  14. The reduced workgroups allow a greater interaction between tutors, whether teachers or electronic media, and students, allowing the latter a greater opportunity for verbal expression.
  15. With these guidelines as bases, language institutes apply their techniques, ranging from psycholinguistic methods to electronic tutors, to offer Colombians learning with all the advantages of the international market.

ACTIVITIES – NATURAL Approach What is natural approach in language teaching?

 Theme: Fruits

Level: A1

General objective:

  • Recognize different types of fruits.

 Specific objectives:

  • Identify fruits.
  • Associate the fruits with their respective names.


  1. The teacher shows one by one to the class 15 names of the most common fruits, written on small cut-out signs of the same size. Read the word and ask your students to repeat it. For each name, an image corresponding to the fruit is shown (pasted on the same signs as the previous ones), so that the students can deduce its meaning.
  2.  Once this activity is finished, the students are asked to sit on the floor, forming a row, to play memory with the little signs used in the previous activity. The game consists of forming pairs (name-image). The student who forms the most pairs wins.

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