Stephen Krashen's Theory of Second Language Acquisition
"Language acquisition does not require extensive use of conscious grammatical rules, and does not require tedious drill." "Acquisition requires meaningful interaction in the target language – natural communication - in which speakers are concerned not with the form of their utterances but with the messages they are conveying and understanding." "The best methods are therefore those that supply 'comprehensible input' in low anxiety situations, containing messages that students really want to hear. These methods do not force early production in the second language, but allow students to produce when they are 'ready', recognizing that improvement comes from supplying communicative and comprehensible input, and not from forcing and correcting production." "In the real world, conversations with sympathetic native speakers who are willing to help the acquirer understand are very helpful." Introduction
Stephen Krashen (University of Southern California) is an expert in the field of linguistics, specializing in theories of language acquisition and development. Much of his recent research has involved the study of non-English and bilingual language acquisition. During the past 20 years, he has published well over 100 books and articles and has been invited to deliver over 300 lectures at universities throughout the United States and Canada. This is a brief description of Krashen's widely known and well accepted theory of second language acquisition, which has had a large impact in all areas of second language research and teaching since the 1980s.
The Natural Approach (NA) is a product of Stephen Krashen, an applied linguist at the University of Southern California and Tracy Terrell, a teacher of Spanish in California. Krashen's work on second language acquisition and Terrell's teaching experiences form the bases of the Natural Approach. The principles and practices of this new approach have been published in "The Natural Approach" (Krashen and Terrell, 1983). The book contains theoretical sections prepared by Krashen and sections on implementation and classroom procedures prepared mostly by Terrell. The most striking proposal of the NA theory is that adults can still acquire second languages and that the ability to 'pick up' languages does not disappear at puberty. Thus, Krashen's contribution to Chomsky's LAD proposition is that adults follow the same principles of Universal Grammar. The theory behind the NA implies that adults can acquire all but the phonological aspect of any foreign language, by using their ever-active LAD. What makes adults different from children is their abstract problem solving skills that make them consciously process the grammar of a foreign language. Therefore, adults have two paths to follow: Acquisition and learning. However, children have only one: Acquisition.
In their book, Krashen and Terrell refer to their method of picking up ability in another language directly without instruction in its grammar as 'the traditional approach'. They consider their approach as a traditional one whereas many methodologists consider Grammar Translation Method as the traditional method. For Krashen, even Grammar Translation Method is not as old and traditional as the method of acquiring a language in its natural environment, a method which has been used for hundreds of thousands of years.
The term 'natural' emphasizes that the principles behind the NA are believed to conform to the naturalistic principles found in successful second language acquisition. One may think that the Natural Approach and the Natural Method are similar. The Natural Method (or the Direct Method) and the Natural Approach differ in that the former lays more emphasis on teacher monologues, formal questions and answers, and error correction. Krashen and Terrell note that "the Natural Approach is in many ways the natural, direct method 'rediscovered'[and] it is...