The Natural Approach
I was visiting antimoon.com and came across a reference to the Natural Approach to language learning which took me to a very interesting site about natural language learning.
The assumption is that the student should spend the first 1000 hours of their learning only on input, just listening and reading. The theory is that any attempt to write or speak before the learner is ready will “contaminate” the learner. Speaking too early will introduce incorrect patterns in the brain and will create “affective filters” or emotional barriers to comfortable communication in the target language. I am a strong believer in the importance of input. However I think it is impractical to expect most learners to forgo the pleasure of trying to use what they have learned.
I do, however, agree that for a beginner or early intermediate learner to sit in a class with other beginners, all speaking poorly and getting frustrated is a counter productive activity. Learners are best advised to spend most of their time alone with input, audio and text. This input can be provided by a teacher or by recordings and text in various formats.
At The Linguist that is what we do. We also provide an effective way for the learner to really focus on the new words and how they are used. This input will eventually find its way to the learners sub-conscious and make him/her a more natural user of the target language.