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The Natural Approach



The Natural Approach was developed by Tracy Terrell and Stephen Krashen, starting in 1977. It came to have a wide influence in language teaching in the United States and around the world.

Theory of language

The Communicative view of language is the view behind the Natural Approach. Particular emphasis is laid on language as a set of messages that can be understood.

Theory of learning

The Natural Approach is based on the following tenets:

  • Language acquisition (an unconscious process developed through using language meaningfully) is different from language learning (consciously learning or discovering rules about a language) and language acquisition is the only way competence in a second language occurs. (The acquisition/learning hypothesis)
  • Conscious learning operates only as a monitor or editor that checks or repairs the output of what has been acquired. (The monitor hypothesis)
  • Grammatical structures are acquired in a predictable order and it does little good to try to learn them in another order.(The natural order hypothesis).
  • People acquire language best from messages that are just slightly beyond their current competence. (The input hypothesis)
  • The learner's emotional state can act as a filter that impedes or blocks input necessary to acquisition. (The affective filter hypothesis)

Krashen and Terrell 1983 for more details.


Here are some of the objectives of the Natural Approach

  • it is designed to help beginner become intermediates
  • It is designed to depend on learner needs
The syllabus

The syllabus for the Natural Approach is a communicative syllabus.

Types of learning techniques and activities
  • Comprehensible input is presented in the target language, using technqiues such as TPR, mime and gesture.
  • Group techniques are similar to Communicative Language Teaching.
  • Learners start to talk when they are ready.

The Natural Approach adopts techniques and activities from different sources but uses them to provide comprehensible input.

Context for this page:

Go to SIL home page This page is an extract from the LinguaLinks Library, Version 3.5, published on CD-ROM by SIL International, 1999. [Ordering information.]

Page content last modified: 21 March 1999

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