Natural Approach or Cognitive Approach. Learning or Acquiring a Foreign Language? Research Study at Centro de Lenguas de la Universidad Autónoma de Ciudad Juárez

  • Enriqueta Claudia Serrano Romero Universidad Autónoma de Ciudad Juárez (UACJ)


There is a big dilemma among instructors teaching English as a foreign language. Competence and teaching grammar rules are the primary pedagogical concern. Competence is directly related to the ability of proper grammar use of a language. However, methodological discussions end up accepting that grammatical rules are neither sufficient nor demonstrating the acquisition of the language. Learner students may have correctly learned grammatical rules, but some studies disagree on teaching only grammar because it will not be enough for students to speak forcefully. These circumstances lead to the discussion on the English Teaching method used at the Autonomous University of Ciudad Juárez (UACJ). This study aims to answer 1.) Which of the following approaches are more suitable to teach a second language, Natural Approach vs. Cognitive Approach?  2.) As to what extent should we emphasis grammar rules on teaching a second language to obtain the most benefit? Lastly, a sizable neurolinguistics portion of information is added to help us understand how the brain responds to learning a foreign language.

Author Biography

Enriqueta Claudia Serrano Romero, Universidad Autónoma de Ciudad Juárez (UACJ)
Instituro de Ciencias Sociales y Administración


Abutalebi, J. (2008). Neural aspects of second language representation and language control. Acta Psychologica, 128(3), 466–478.

Achard, M. (2008). Cognitive_Linguistics,_Second_Language_Acquisition..._----_(Pg_165--200) (2). In Cognitive Linguistics, Second Language Acquisition, and Foreign Language Teaching.

Asher, J. J. (1968). The Total Physical Response Method for Second Language Learning 3C by, (August).

Bookheimer, S. (2002). Functional MRI of Language: New Approaches to Understanding the Cortical Organization of Semantic Processing. Annual Review of Neuroscience, 25(1), 151–188.

Fotos, S. (1998). Shifting the focus from forms to form in the EFL classroom. Orford, 52(4), 301–307. Retrieved from

Gass, S. M. (2002). Pedagogical Norms for Second and Foreign Language Learning and Teaching : Studies in honour of Albert Valdman, edited. In Pedagogical norms for second and foreign language learning and teaching studies in honour of Albert Valdman. The University of Illinois at Chicago. Retrieved from

Glezerman T. & Balkoski, V. (2002). Language, Thought, and the Brain. (R. W. A. S. in P. R. W. Rieber, Ed.). Albany, New York: Kluwer Academic Publishers.

Golestani, N., Molko, N., Dehaene, S., LeBihan, D., & Pallier, C. (2007). Brain structure predicts the learning of foreign speech sounds. Cerebral Cortex.

Grogan, A., Green, D. W., Ali, N., Crinion, J. T., & Price, C. J. (2009). Structural correlates of semantic and phonemic fluency ability in first and second languages. Cerebral Cortex, 19(11), 2690–2698.

Hall, L. A. (2005). Teachers and content area reading: Attitudes, beliefs and change. Teaching and Teacher Education.

Isabelle, D. (2018). Powerful and Effective Pronunciation Instruction: How Can We Achieve It? The Catesol Journal, 30.1.

Jacquemot, C., Pallier, C., LeBihan, D., Dehaene, S., & Dupoux, E. (2003). Phonological Grammar Shapes the Auditory Cortex: A Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging Study. J. Neurosci., 23(29), 9541–9546. Retrieved from

Jennings, K. A., Rule, A. C., & Zanden, S. M. V. (2014). Fifth graders’ enjoyment, interest, and comprehension of graphic novels compared to heavily-illustrated and traditional novels. International Electronic Journal of Elementary Education, 6(2), 257–274.

Krashen, S. D. (1982a). Principles and Practice in Second Language Acquisition (pp. 1–202). University of Southern California.

Krashen, S. D. (1982b). Principles and Practice in Second Language Acquisition.

Levis, J. M., & Grant, L. (2003). Integrating Pronunciation Into ESL / EFL Classrooms. Tesol Journal, 12(2), 13–19.

Li, P., Legault, J., & Litcofsky, K. A. (2014). Neuroplasticity as a function of second language learning: Anatomical changes in the human brain. Cortex, 58, 301–324.

Martin Taylor, M., & Taylor, L. (1989). Book Reviews: Speaking: From Intention to Articulation. Defence and Civil Institute of Environmental Medicine and University of Toronto: Cambridge, MA.

Mason, P. (2018). Understanding the Brain: The Neurobiology of Everyday Life | Coursera. Retrieved July 19, 2018, from

Paulesu, E., Goldacre, B., Scifo, P., Cappa, S. F., Gilardi, M. C., Castiglioni, I., … Fazio, F. (1997). Functional heterogeneity of left inferior frontal cortex as revealed by fMRI. Neuroreport, 8(8), 2011–2017. Retrieved from

Peter, A. (1992). Teaching American English pronunciation | Catalog Search Results | IUCAT Bloomington. New York : Oxford University Press . Retrieved from

Richards, J. C., & Rodgers, T. S. (1986). Approacnes and Methods in Language Teaching (Fifteenth). United States of AMerica: University of Cambridge.

Sparks, R. L., Humbach, N., Patton, J., & Ganschow, L. (2011). Subcomponents of Second-Language Aptitude and Second-Language Proficiency. Modern Language Journal, 95(2), 253–273.

Sparks, R. L., & St, M. (1998). Subcomponents of Second-Language Aptitude and Second-Language Proficiency, 95(ii).

Spicer-Escalante, M. L. (2011). Revising our Curriculum/Empowering Students: Teachers’Preparation and Perceptions about Bilingual Writing. Theory and Practice in Language Studies, 1(8).

Terrell, T. D. (1977). A Natural Approach to Second Language Acquisition and Learning. The Modern Language Journal.

Terrell, T. D. (1991). The Role of Grammar Instruction in a Communicative Approach. The Modern Language Journal, 75(1991), 52–63.

Ur, P. (1991). Practice and theory. New York: Cambridge University Press.

VanPatten, B. (1993). Grammar Teaching for the Acquisition‐Rich Classroom. Foreign Language Annals, 4(26), 435–450.

VanPatten, B. (2002). Processing instruction: An update. Language Learning, 52:4(755–803).

White, L. (1995). 1995-White_Lydia-Against-Comprehensible-Input.

How to Cite
Serrano Romero, E. C. (2019). Natural Approach or Cognitive Approach. Learning or Acquiring a Foreign Language? Research Study at Centro de Lenguas de la Universidad Autónoma de Ciudad Juárez. The International Human Sciences Review, 1, 49-58. Retrieved from