Natural Learning Method

                                           The Ladder of Language  

                                                                                                                                                                             poetry and prose

                                                        spin, sales talk


                                                 business communications

                        IELTS tests         

                    Advanced          what a TV newsreader says

              Intermediate        what a bus driver says

          Beginner            what your tutor says



The Natural English learning method is a modern approach based on the insights of world-famous language acquisition experts Noam Chomsky of MIT and Pierre Capretz of Yale University, whose ideas inspired some of our own.   The patterns of English are gradually introduced to you through a series of scenarios, which enables your  mind to do what it's naturally good at - learning patterns. 


"Swimming in English" means immersing yourself in the language.   We provide you with a  "swimming pool" of video lessons that are very simple to start with and gradually get deeper into the language as you go along.  As you listen to the videos, read the transcripts and practise speaking by repeating the words in the video, your mind will naturally absorb the vocabulary and patterns of phrase construction. 

Because you are learning, you need more time than a fluent speaker to figure out how to say something.   So we use "time-warped" conversations - you record and email a message to your tutor, and your tutor sends you a reply.  A time-warped ten-minute conversation can extend over several days, a little bit at a time.  This gives your brain the time it needs to do its "mental housekeeping", which it does mostly when you are asleep.  

Your tutor is an expert teacher, who knows how to use only the vocabulary and patterns that you are familiar with - to say what you can understand - which enables you to have a meaningful and productive dialogue.

Famous scientists like Archimedes, Isaac Newton and Niels Bohr all made their finest discoveries when they were relaxed and not thinking about anything in particular.  Archimedes was having a bath when he discovered the secret to finding out whether something was made of pure gold,  Isaac was sitting in an orchard when he realised that what makes apples fall from a tree is the very same thing that makes the Moon go around the Earth, and Niels was watching a horse-race when he formulated his theory of how the inside of an atom works.

The human brain has marvellous learning abilities, but it is not able to learn complex things like language by cramming.  You have to give your brain the time it needs to integrate new information with what you already know.


Hemingway's tragic hero fought against Nature - he tried to do too much at one time.  He was defeated by the physical magnitude of his task; if instead of trying to catch a giant fish in one go, he had set out to catch just a few small fish every day, he would have succeeded.


Learning a new language is like fishing - just catch a little more each time, lesson by lesson, and you will succeed.

An example of Natural English tuition in action


Here is a dialogue between student Yu and her tutor David:


1.  David writes:


Hello Yu San,

Thank you for your message.  I am happy to help you improve your English.  Please look at some of the videos we use and choose one of them for your first lesson.

Then I will ask you some questions.

Yours Sincerely,



2.  Yu writes:


Hello Sir
I watched the video "Beginner 1, Intermediate 1 and Advanced (Nak Pulau)" for first 10 mins. It was too easy to follow Beginner 1 for me. Also I found easy to catch the words from Intermediate 1. However my speaking speed is slower than this TV show...
I could understand "Advanced (Nak Pulau)" without subtitles as well, but I needed to concentrate a little bit.


3.  David replies:


I can see from your message that your listening skill is already at Advanced level.
Your grammar is quite good.  There are some small things that we can improve.
To improve your speaking skill and grammar, I recommend that you watch all 60 videos in the Beginner series and practise repeating what the actors say. 

Please make a recording of your voice and email it to me.

Let us talk/write together about Nak Pulau 1.   The tour leader talked about "pitcher plants" called Nepentes in Latin language.

What does a pitcher plant look like?
How does a pitcher plant catch insects?

Your answers will be much longer than my questions!
Please answer my questions without using a dictionary.  That will help me to discover what you need to learn.


3.  Yu writes:

I watched Nak Pulau 1 and recorded my voice. I tried to speak just after they said (is it called shadow reading?). So  I couldn't follow all conversation though.
I used voice recorder in my iphone. I will send it later from iphone.

I'm going to answer the question.
1. It is like a vase. It was a little one on the video, but there are many species in the world. I guess he said 5 species of pitcher plants in his country(or that area).
2. It produces attractive smell for insect. A insect can not get out once it enter, because the inside of the plant is very slippy. Then the insect gets drown.

An extract of her recording her voice repeating some of the things she heard in the video:  mp3


4.  David replies: (attached soundfile)


Konnichi wa Yu san,

Thank you for your voice recording.  I enjoyed listening to it.  Your accent is generally good. 

Japanese doesn't have a "th" sound.  We make it by placing the tip of the tongue against the inside of the upper front teeth and then breathing out.


Many people pronounce "th" like "s" or "z".  You pronounced "this" a little like "dis".

Please practise saying these words:



Your grammar is better than you think!

There are a few differences between English and Japanese that reveal themselves in your writing:

one thing   two things

a message
an apple
an attractive smell
my message
the message

"a thing" means "one thing"
We say "the thing" when the other person knows which thing we mean


I strongly recommend you to install VideoDownloader software so you can download YouTube videos and then practise with each video many times.


"Shadow reading" is when you say the words at the same time as the teacher.  I have recorded this message so you can shadow read my words.  Please do not try to shadow read Nak Pulau movies - it is too difficult!  The people speak with Malay and Chinese accents - except for the man making "Te Tarik" tea - that man is me :)  The beginner series videos are the best ones for shadow reading.

Yes - a pitcher plant looks like a vase.  It looks like a pitcher.  A pitcher is an old word for a jug.  American people still say pitcher.

You were surprised when the tour leader said the pitcher plant was having breakfast :)  The insect is not drowned - it is eaten by the pitcher plant.  The liquid inside the pitcher is like the acid in our stomachs  - it digests the insect,  So the pitcher is a kind of stomach!

Last time, I asked you two questions.  This time, please you ask me two questions.


5.  Yu says:


Thank you for listening and checking my voice record.
Yes. I have problem to pronounce "th", and I found difficult to pronounce "W" such as "would", "wound"...
I tried to do shadow reading as your voice. It was still difficult to speak just after you said,although I was reading your message as well.
I'd like to ask you.....
1.Why did you choose this video? I recon they have chinese accent in this video. It makes more difficult to catch the words for me. Do you have any specific reason?
2.How long have you been teaching English to foreigner with Natural English?


6.  David answers (soundfile):
To make a W sound, imagine that you are about to kiss someone.  Push your lips out slightly.  Then make a sound from the back of your throat.

Listen, several times, to my recording of the words below.  Then record your voice saying them at the same time as you hear them.  If you listen with headphones, i will hear just your voice.

One, two, three...
Wow !  Wowee !!
Willing worker on organic farms worldwide
How now brown cow
Will you, won't you, will you, won't you, won't you join the dance?
When we walked in the woods we saw a woodpecker

I chose Nak Pulau as one of the videos for advanced learners because
-  The Beginner series has polished British accents, which is why they are the best for learning pronunciation.  The Extr@ English series has some common London accents and a long storyline, which is good for comprehension.  Nak Pulau introduces foreign accents, which advanced learners can learn to comprehend too. 
- it is my own movie
- its subject matter is unusual and interesting, especially for wwoofers who like nature.

Repeating words you hear after you hear them is a good way to practise pronunciation.  You can do this with the Beginner series videos, which have the best pronunciation to learn and are designed to be used in that way.  Please look at Lesson 8, which has a lot of L sounds and some R sounds (which do not exist in Japanese).  Please record your voice saying some of the words you hear in Lesson 8.

Shadow reading is a different practice to repeating words!  It is saying the words at the same time as the speaker.  That is why I sent you my words in writing as well as my voice - so you can read the words and say them together with me.

Natural English is a new company that I started a few weeks ago.  You are my first Natural English student!  I taught people English in Japan in 1985, and in China in 2000.  My former job was as a University lecturer in Computer Science, specialising in Artificial Intelligence.  I retired in 2010.  You can see my professional history at  I have been interested in learning and in language since 1971.  Learning was the subject of my PhD in 1976.

I have been teaching since 1971 and am convinced that the teacher should follow the student - not the other way around, as is the usual practice.  With a large class, this is quite difficult to achieve, as different people in the class progress at different rates.  But with one-on-one learning, it is easy!

The Beginner series is the best one for practising pronunciation.  Nak Pulau is for practising comprehension and provides an interesting subject for dialogue between a tutor and student.

Perhaps we should talk about Lesson 8 and leave Nak Pulau for later on.  What do you think?

7.  Yu says:
Thank you giving me the good sentences for practicing W sound. I listened your voice and tried to speak at the same time.

I understood why you chose that video. I need to get used to hear English speaker who has accent. But I'd like to start with Lesson 8.

I am the first student!! I hope I will be a good student for you...

And thank you for telling me your history:)


8.  David says (soundfile):

English spelling and sounds are varied, because English is a mixture of many old languages: Anglo-Saxon, Norman French, Celtic, Norse, etc.  Sometimes the same spelling is pronounced in different ways, and different spellings are pronounced the same way.  Phoenetics analysts try to make up rules about this, but they are very complicated and it is easiest to simply learn each word by itself. 

In the words wood and woodpecker the spelling oo is not pronounced long like shoot

Let us practise together, slowly at first and then getting faster:



you should store wood under a hood to stop it getting wet when it rains
we walked in the wood where we heard a woodpecker pecking wood

don't worry if you can't say the phrases as fast as me :)

Let's turn to Lesson 8.  I attach the transcript.  You can use it to practise your pronunciation by repetition and by shadow reading. 

Please answer the questions at the end of the transcript without using any books or dictionaries - just as if we were having a conversation.  Record your voice saying your answers.


9.  Yu says (soundfile):

I recorded my voice which I speaker just after they said in this video. And I answered your question. But I did not have enough knowledge to explain about them...
I think I should write down my answer to a memo first, then speak following the memo....


10.  David replies (soundfile):


Pop and Rock are kinds of music.  You like Pop and Rock and R&B.

We pronounce -ed at the end of a word like -t.

Please practise saying this sentence:

We laughed when we watched the X-men movie about Wolverine

What does Wolverine look like?


11. Yu says:

Wolverine looks like wolf. He has furry hair and he uses the bones of his arm(nackle?) when he fights.


12.  David says:


Wolverine looks like a man.  He has long fingernails.

A real wolverine has furry hair and it uses its claws when it fights.

Notice we say he for a person and it for an animal.
Human claws are called fingernails.

Let's do Lesson 9 now.  I attach the notes.  I have marked the transcribed conversations with their times in the video.