The Natural Approach, by Stephen Krashen and Tracey Terrell

The Natural ApproachWhat It’s About: Solid second language acquisition theory that has stood the test of time. There are newer methods that have been developed since this book was published but no better theoretical models—you can use the 5 hypotheses every day to guide quality teaching in your classroom.

Quotable Quotes: “Overt error correction of speech even in the best of circumstances is likely to have a negative effect on the students’ willingness to try to express themselves.” p.177

“The result of language acquisition is a ‘feel’ for grammaticality and an ability to use a rule in real communication.” p. 40

“The Great Paradox of Language Teaching: Language is best taught when it is being used to transmit messages, not when it is explicitly taught for conscious learning.” p. 55

[The input] hypothesis states simply that we acquire (not learn) language by understanding input that is a little beyond our current level of (acquired) competence.” p. 32

“Listening comprehension and reading are of primary importance in the language program, and the ability to speak (or write) fluently in a second language will come with time.” p. 32

“Conscious learning has an extremely limited function… it can only be used as a Monitor, or an editor… in order to use the Monitor successfully: 1. The performer has to have enough time, 2. The performer has to be thinking about correctness, or be focused on form, 3. The performer has to know the rule.” p. 30

Bonus Points For: Developing the five hypotheses of language acquisition: the Acquisition-Learning Hypothesis, the Natural Order Hypothesis, the Monitor Hypothesis, the Input Hypothesis and the Affective Filter Hypothesis. The first initial of those five, plus Krashen’s more recent Compelling Input Hypothesis can be rearranged to create the mnemonic M.A.N.I.A.C.—you must become a bit maniacal about sticking with these in the face of pressures in education. Use MANIAC to explain what you are trying to do in language teaching when you are talking with students, parents, administrators and student teachers.

Mike Tyson said, “Everybody has a plan until they get punched in the mouth.” Krashen’s hypotheses can help you to stick with your plan when the realities of classroom teaching punch you in the face.

An Image That Could Sum Up This Book Is: A compass on the bridge of a sailing ship in a storm—it shows the way when we get blown off course. In the classroom we deal with the demands of student personalities, parental concerns, administrative expectations, yearly fads, governmental testing and our own distractibility and exhaustion.

Read This Book If… You want to understand how and why language acquisition works. Solid theoretical models like this keep us on course in the face of the unrelenting gales in education.