Underlying Principles

IT is important for all teachers to understand the theories and methods that underlie and support the techniques and materials recommended in this guide. This knowledge will enable them to feel secure and confident with the activities they will carry out in their classrooms. It will also allow them to he creative and autono-mous. In other words, teachers who are knowledgeable of the theory are more likely to adapt and create materials to suit the needs of the students they have in front of them.
    Three major theories, Krashen and Terrell's Natural Approach, the Communicative Approach, and the Whole Language Approach, have influenced the development of this curriculum guide. Krashen and Terrell's Natural Approach and the Communicative Approach have been developed from research in the field of second language acquisition in the last fifteen years. The Whole Language Approach was developed from research in the areas of reading and writing in English as a first language. These three approaches have made great contributions to the field of teaching English as a second language and have been found to complement one another (see underlying principles in this guide). Nevertheless, the subtle differences among the three approaches have given this guide flexibility and versatility.
    Principles quoted here from each one of these approaches will be presented with an implication for the classroom. This theoreti-cal input should have an enriching effect on teaching.


1. Comprehension precedes production.
    (Krashen & Terrell, 1983, p. 20)

Implication: Many students should be allowed, a silent period in their early stages of second language development. While some students will be eager to speak the new language they are being exposed to, others will prefer to listen to it. This also implies that in the early stages of second language acquisition language instruction should be aimed at helping students understand meaning before they are asked to speak (listening comprehen-sion).

2. Production is allowed to emerge in stages.
    (Krashen & Terrell, 1983, p. 20)

Implication: Students should not be forced to speak in complete utterances if they are not ready to do so. Non-verbal commu-nication and simple responses, such as No, O.K, you, and me should be allowed because this is communication. Phrases and simple combination of words should also be allowed. In addition, speech errors which do not interfere with communica-tion should never be corrected.

3. The course syllabus consists of communicative goals.
    (Krashen & Terrell, 1983, p.20)

Implication: Classroom activities should be organized around themes and not around grammatical structures. Therefore, the goal of the class should he that students learn to communicate in their second language as they discuss topics of interest to them, and not that they learn English grammar.

4. Classroom activities aimed at acquisition must foster a lower-ing of the affective filter of
    the students.
    (Krashen & Terrell, 1983, p. 21)

Implication: Teachers need to create an atmosphere in their class-rooms where students feel at ease (low anxiety level). Students must feel that there is good rapport with the teacher and a friendly relationship with other students in the classroom.
This principle also implies that activities developed in the classroom are interesting and relevant to the students. These factors will motivate students to participate in activities and become active learners.

5. Language is acquired by being exposed to input that is a little beyond student's current
    level of competence.
    (Krashen & Terrell, 1983, p. 32)

Implication: Students should be exposed to language that in-cludes structures that they still have not acquired (they still do not know). lt also means that both listening and reading are going to be very important in the second language classroom for introducing students to more challenging content.

6. Language is best taught when it is being used to transmit mes-sages, not when it is
    explicitly taught for conscious learning.
    (Krashen and Terrell, 1988, p. 55)

Implication: Whatever helps comprehension is important. For example, visual aids should he used in the ESL classroom as much as possible because they help students pay attention to the message and not to the structures being used.
This principle also implies that emphasis should be placed on understanding the message (listening comprehension).

7. Krashen recommends narrow and extensive reading, focusing on a single topic or author to take advantage of natural repeti-tion of vocabulary and syntax as well as familiar context. Such an approach entails early, rather than late, specialization in the works of a single author in literature courses, and courses that focus on a single topic or series of related topics (as in “immer-sion" programs). Using narrow reading, acquirers can progress comfortably, gradually expanding the range of their reading
   (Krashen and Terrell, 1988, p. 137).

Implication: Prior knowledge of topics and structures should be given special attention in the reading class. lf students are fa-miliar with the topics of the reading, they will find the reading selections easy to understand. They will also pay less attention to isolated sentences and vocabulary.

8. New words should he introduced, then reused many times before the students are expected to use them in responses. Thus, at any given time the comprehensible input serves to introduce new vocabulary, reuse vocabulary which has previously been introduced, and to give an opportunity for the students to produce vocabulary which has been used by the instructor so often that it has been acquired.
   (Krashen and Terrell, 1988, p. 80)

Implication: Vocabulary learning is essential in the ESL classroom. Reading familiar topics where students are exposed to the same vocabulary in different contexts enables students to acquire the new words. Teaching vocabulary within a context should be the preferred way of teaching vocabulary.


1. Students achieve skill in using a language when their attention is focused on conveying and receiving authentic messages (that is, messages that contain information of interest to speaker and listener in a situation of importance to both.
   (Rivers, 1987, p. 4).

Implication: Classroom activities should all be based on situations that are authentic, of interest, and real to students.

2. Through interaction, students can increase their language store as they listen to or read authentic linguistic material, or even the output of their fellow students in discussions, skits, joint problem-solving tasks, or dialogue journals.
   (Rivers, 1987, p. 4)

Implication: Classroom activities should give students opportunities to interact with language in real contexts. This helps students understand that a language is used for communication.

3. Language is primarily an interpersonal act and the principal mechanism used by human beings to socialize and get things done
   (Savignon,1983. p. 24)

Implication: Many opportunities should be given in classrooms for students to participate in conversations that lead them to follow up with another task. Other activities that help students socialize with their peers should he encouraged.

4. Language use consists of many abilities.  The nature of the particular abilities needed is dependent on the roles of the participants, the situations, and the goal of the interaction.
   (Savignon, 1983, p. 24)

Implication: Language should center around situations of interests the learners. Therefore, classroom instruction ought to be based on meaning and contexts appropriate to the learners' needs to communicate and to express themselves in English.

5. Second language learning, like first language learned, begins with the needs and interests of the learner
   (Savignon, 1983, P. 24)

Implication: An analysis of` learners' needs and interests should also be conducted to facilitate the preparation of activities.

6. Teachers need to, he flexible, with a repertoire of techniques they can employ as circumstances dictate, while keeping interaction central-interaction between teacher and student, student and teacher, student and student, student and authors of texts, and student and the community that speaks the language.
   (Rivers, 1987, p. 6)

Implication: Interaction is the key word to keep in mind in the ESL, classroom. It is the teacher’s responsibility to provide as many opportunities as possible for interaction to take place in the classroom. It is important to observe that interaction also occurs between a reader and the text.

7. Real interaction in the classroom requires the teacher to step out of the limelight, to cede a full role to the student in devel-oping and carrying through activities, to accept all kinds of opinions, and be tolerant of errors the student makes while attempting to communicate.
   (Rivers, 1987, p.9)

Implication: The teacher is no longer the director in his/her classroom.  The teacher has to become a guide and participant.

8. Reading is a problem-solving behavior that actively involves the reader in the process of deriving meaning and assigning meaning.
   (Papalia. 1987. p. 70)

Implication: Reading is an interactive activity. Therefore, the prior knowledge the reader brings to the text is just as important as the text itself.  Teachers need to activate this prior knowledge to ensure that students are aware of all of the information they already know about the topic about which they will be reading. If the students do not have any prior knowledge, teachers should provide any information they already know about the topic about which they will be reading. If the students do not have any prior knowledge, teachers should provide any information they consider essential for the comprehension of the text.

9. If reading is the activity, there should be lively interaction of reader and text - interpretation, expansion, discussing alternative possibilities of other conclusions. Often reading leads to cre-ative production in speech or writing, as students are inspired to write stories, poems, plays radio programs, or film scenarios, or their own dénouements for stories and plays they have been reading.
   (Rivers, 1987. p. 12)

Implication: Reading leads to other interactive activities in the ESL classroom.  There should be a strong connection between reading and writing activities.

10. Writing is not necessarily a solitary activity on the part of the author but can be intensely interactive, involving the instruc-tor, other students, and individuals outside of the formal class-room setting. Normally, we write to be read, and our writing improves as we respond to the reactions of others. Our desire to write also increases as others show interest in what we have written.
    (Russo. 1987. p.83)

Implication: Writing is an interactive activity, Writing means sharing and talking about ideas.  It also implies that writing improves as students re-write. Therefore, writing needs to be seen as a process that involves many stages and many participants (student-writer, teacher, other students, and readers).

11. In an interactive classroom there will be, first of all, much listen-ing to authentic materials, with no prohibition or discouragement of spoken response or student-initiated contribution. The listening will he purposeful as students prepare to use in some way what they have heard.
    (Rivers, 1987, p. 1 0 )

Implication: Listening comprehension activities should be planned so as to ensure that this skill is not being overlooked. For instance, teachers can read aloud parts of stories students will he reading later in class.

12. Testing, too, shouId be interactive and proficiency-oriented, rather than a sterile, taxonomic process. Students should be put in situations where they hear and react to real uses of lan-guage or where what they read is to be incorporated into some further language~using activity. Multiple-choice and fill-in-the -blank tests are about Ianguage; they are not normal language -using activities. Tests shouId replicate normal uses of Ianguage as much as is feasible.

Implication: Although traditional tests do not have to be eliminated, teachers should also incorporate other testing techniques that measure language use in situations similar to real-life experiences.


1. Language learning is a process of social and personal invention.
    (Goodman, 1986, p. 18)

Implication: Language is only learned when it is used for real communication and when students are allowed to use it cre-atively. lt also implies that error correction must be de-empha-sized and communication stressed.

2. All learning involves risk.
    (Goodrnan, 1986, p.18)

Implication: students should be encouraged to take risks in trying to use the second language. Risks will be encouraged if errors are seen as part of the process of second language acquisition.

3. Form forms function in language development.  Children know what they want to do with language, and that stimulates their drive to control the form of language so that it meets their needs.
   (Goodman, 1986. p. 18)

Implication: Classroom activities should be developed based on topics of interest to the students, and not on structures (grammar) . Having something to say will motiyate learners to want to say it. Subsequent attempts to communicate may focus on grammar.

4. Language is actually learned from whole to part.
    (Goodman, 1986, P-19)

Implication: Language should always be presented in contexts. It should never be presented in isolation from a meaningful situation that learners can relate to.

5. Authentic language and literacy experiences are central throughout the curriculum.
    (Goodman, 1986)

Implication: The activities developed, in the classroom should be based on the real world, how the second language is used or can be used in real contexts. it also means that literature should be an important component in the language classroom. Be-cause literature depicts real life many times, it is an excellent springboard for relating the topics of the readings to connect classroom activities to the real world. Reading and writing should also be connected and not seen as separate activities.

6.  Skill are taught in the context of learner's interests, needs, and use.
     (Goodman, 1986)

Implication: Students will automatically learn the skills if the lan-guage and the activities being used in the classroom are of in-terest to them and take into consideration their needs.

7. Learning is transactional; meaning is actively constructed by the learner.
    (Goodman, 1986)

Implication: students need to interact with the language in or-der to get meaning from it. Therefore, all classroom activities should focus on communication. Students also need to under-stand that the second language allows them to give and receive meaning through it.

8. Teachers play various non-traditional roles in whole language  classrooms.
 (Goodman, 1986)

Implication: Teachers become participants. Teachers are also guides. Many times they must become kid-watchers. This means that teachers should spend some time observing students as they are learning and practicing the second language. This will help teachers understand these learning processes, and it will also help them improve their own teaching practices.

9. Teachers and students are all learners, risk-takers, and decision--makers.
    (Goodman, 1986)

Implication: The teacher is another learner in the classroom. Students are also empowered so that they participate in select-ing activities for the classroom or in choosing how they want their language learning to occur.

10. Choice in crucial in whole language classrooms.
      (Goodman, 1986)

Implication: All teachers and learners shouId participate in de-cision-making regarding the activities to be carried out in the classroom.

11. Assessment is continuous, intertwined with learning and teaching.
      (Goodman, 1986)

Implication: Teachers no longer evaluate at the end of units or at the end of a semester. They are constantly observing how learning is taking place for purposes of improving their own teaching and the learning taking place in the classroom. Stu-dents are also continually observing how learning is taking place. Students are also made responsible for their learning.