This paper summarily outlines and discusses the steps normally taken in the design of a research project on a pragmatic orientation to The Natural Approach to teaching/learning a foreign language at the adult level.
Pragmatic orientation is construed in the Dewey connotation of a pedagogical practice "which lays emphasis on consequences or results as a test of its validity" (Page & Thomas, 1977, p. 269). Stated more broadly, pragmatism is "a view of the world based on practical outcomes and consequences" (Shafritz, Koeppe, & Soper, 1988, p. 361).
Tracy D. Terrell's The Natural Approach (Terrell, 1990, pp. 193-206) is a comprehension-based approach to teaching/learning a foreign language. Its fundamental assumption is that "learners of any age are able to take in speech input--if most of it is comprehensible--and discover its system without having it arbitrarily broken down for them and spoon-fed" (Blair, 1991, p. 29).
There are several ways in which a program of study or a research project can be structured and developed. I have chosen a loose application of the systems approach to instruction and education for the development of a curriculum (one type of research project), because I believe that, however open a system (such as an educational system as opposed to an instructional system), it still needs to be validated if it is to meet the student's reasonable expectations and the teacher's accountability. The systems approach denotes "the systematic application of instructional technology to an educational or training problem, starting by identifying the input (the entry behavior of the learner) and output (the desired terminal behavior of the learner) and then determining how best to convert the former into the latter by employing an appropriate instructional system" (Ellington & Harris, 1986, p. 162). Thus, fundamental to the systems approach is the determining and evaluating of system input and output--the key to accountab...