Trying out the Natural Approach at the FASK
In the summer semester 2002, Don Kiraly was the instructor of an undergraduate seminar about
theories of language acquisition. Two students from a university in Budapest taught Hungarian
in a course for beginners initiated by Don Kiraly.
Although they had no experience with the method of the Natural Approach;
the students accepted the challenge.
A week before the seminar began, Don Kiraly acquainted the students with the Natural Approach.
He and his twelve-year-old son served as test subjects on which the students
tried out different teaching concepts. The seminar was held five hours a day
for a week. Twenty-five students took part in the course, including Don Kiraly, who was taught in the same way as the other
participants. The course was solely held in Hungarian, and the instructors
attached great importance to interactive collaboration. For instance, the
blindfolded students had to perform an obstacle race where they had to rely
completely on each other. Neither taking notes nor using other devices was permitted
After this week, four students decided to continue the Hungarian course until
the end of the semester. The model lessons with the Natural
Approach were a unique experience for all participants. Above all, they
realized that successful learning depends a great deal on collaboration in the
group. However, despite the positive reaction to the Natural Approach,
the students also realized that they forgot quickly what they had learnt.
At the same time, Katrin Kohl from the
University of Oxford, observes that
there is a shift back to the traditional teaching of grammar: "In reaction
to the grammar-based approaches derived from Classics, communicative approaches
tend to look to the Romantic premise that natural is best - which helps to
explain their equally narrow approach to communication. To take but one
example, Krashen/Terrell's The Natural Approach
(1988) presents grammar-based methods as a Renaissance aberration
associated with old schoolmasters and Latin declensions. In contrast, the Natural
Approach is exemplified by the noble savage who predates grammar studies,
by immigrant workers in Europe and by language learners in the marketplace
of underdeveloped regions of Africa