Neurolinguistic programming (NLP) is one of many "alternative" systems that have been applied to English teaching methodologies. Scientific analysis of the general principles of NLP have generally been highly critical.
The New Oxford Dictionary of English defines it as "a system of alternative therapy intended to educate people in self-awareness and effective communication and to model and change their patterns of mental and emotional behaviour".
The balance of this article concentrates on NLP as it is applied to English teaching although it should be noted that NLP is also used in other contexts such as treating the skin condition psoriasis  cancer  and achieving weight loss.
What is it?
It sometimes seems a little difficult to get a handle on what NLP actually is in terms of English teaching. A quote from Handing Over, a NLP textbook, follows:
|“||NLP is to do with method, not content. It is not a teaching method in the way that the "direct method" or the "Silent way" are methods. NLP is an approach to life learning and communication. Many aspects are directly or indirectly relevant to teaching. It's difficult to say which parts of this book are specifically NLP. Life Levels, VAKOG and metaprograms, among others are clearly NLP concepts. But at another level anything that is good practice in NLP.||”|
Which seems to be saying that "anything that is good practice is NLP".
A somewhat simpler definition from Master Teaching Techniques:
|“||NLP... teaches people to use non-verbal feedback and verbal cues to develop superior communication methods: how to establish rapport, gather information and to detect and match a person's preferred method of communication.||”|
|“||In conclusion, whether you do not support or believe in NLP you use it and this shows that actually, NLP uses the most practical methods and structures that would help anyone who would like to become successful in whatever area they like.||”|
Which seems to be saying something similar.
While not exclusive to NLP, it includes the idea of VAK models. These suggest that some people are more receptive to Visual input, others to Auditory input and still others to Kinesthetic, or tactile, input.
- Visual learners have a preference for learning from texts and visual aids such as overhead slides, diagrams, handouts, etc.);
- Auditory learners learn best through activities involving listening (lectures, discussions, tapes, songs, etc.);
- Kinesthetic/tactile learners, while incorporating to a large extent the two previous styles, prefer to learn through direct experience, that is moving around, hands-on activities (experiments, etc.), role plays and simulations and in general being more active in their learning process.
This would seem to have some connection with the idea of Multiple Intelligences.
It should be noted that "Neurolinguistic programming" has nothing to do with the science of neurolinguistics and should under no circumstances be confused with it.
The acronym NLP can also refer to the non-related Natural language processing, a field of computer science concerned with the interactions between computers and human (natural) languages.