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Language Theories of the 1970s: Natural and Functional Approaches, CLL, CLT

Language Theories in the 1970s

The 1970s brought about several methods of language learning, many of which have influenced modern methods.

Natural Approach

The Natural Approach isn't a language learning method in itself, but instead an influence in teaching languages. In the late 1970s, Stephen Krashen and Tracy Terrell, influenced by Noam Chomsky's studies, developed the Natural Approach believing that language should be learned naturally, the way children learn their first language. The learner starts, just as babies do, with a silent period of listening and hearing the language followed by an eventual natural ability to produce the language when she is ready. The premise of the theory is that language acquisition, or the unconscious natural process of learning a language is the most effective form of learning a language.

Functional Approach

Using the Functional Approach, teachers follow three steps:

1.Decide on a function of what students should learn
2.Choose the appropriate structure
3.Choose the appropriate vocabulary

Communicative Language Teaching (CLT)

Also named as an approach in the 1970s, CLT was developed as a British reaction to grammar-based and audio-lingual methods of language learning. The method emphasizes building fluency and giving learners knowledge they need to perform specific purposes in the real world, often through practicing different social situations. Activities include information gap, games, role playing, interviews, and group and pair work. Grammar is not overtly taught, but instead 'discovered' by students.

Community Language Learning/Counseling Learning

Charles Curran of Canada developed the Counseling Learning Approach in the 1970s. Originally used for teaching immigrants, the method is based on the idea of Greek counseling. The teacher is the knower or counselor while the learners are clients, who repeat to the group what the teacher has said. The method relies heavily on recorded dialogs.