College ESL Students “Don’t Have Time” to Read in English, Researchers Claim

From a recent issue of Language Teaching Research (open access) dedicated to vocabulary teaching: For the past decade, we have been witnessing a heated debate between the advocates of ‘vocabulary-through-input’ position and the proponents of word-focused instruction. The most recent example is the discussion between Cobb, Nation, and McQuillan in the October 2016 issue of Reading in […]

Converging Evidence on Vocabulary Acquisition: Another Look at Reynolds (2016)

In a previous post, I reviewed a recent study by Reynolds (2016) on the impact of frequency and “congnativeness” in vocabulary acquisition. It is worth discussing his data a bit further in order to compare his findings with Paul Nation’s (2014) estimates on the time efficiency of vocabulary acquisition through reading. Nation analyzed a series […]

The IBM Computer Cloud of Unknowing

This press release is making the rounds this week, announcing a collaboration between Sesame Street and the letters I, B, and M. Big Bird and Big Blue are teaming up to do “learning in the cloud” with Jeopardy! champion Ken Jennings Watson the Super-Computer. Their first project together is called a “cognitive vocabulary learning app”: Watson’s augmented […]

The Existential Fallacy: If It Exists, It Must Be Taught

I stumbled across the following observation this morning from a 1983 technical report on reading comprehension by David Pearson and Margaret Gallagher: Existential Proofs The logic of existential proofs seems to be something like this: “If I can prove that a variable affects reading comprehension, then it becomes a candidate for future instructional manipulation. Even better, if […]

Forced “Pleasure Reading” May Get You Neither

Milliner, B (2017). One year of extensive reading on smartphones: A report. JALT Call Journal, 13(1), 49-58. Back in the 1980s, I spent my first year out of college working as a clerk in small clothing company (I majored in ancient history). There was a sign in the break room meant to provide a little […]

Rakuten, Japan’s 21st Century Online Powerhouse, to Launch 19th Century Language School

One of the leading online retailers in Japan, Rakuten, is getting into the English-teaching business. According to their press release, their “Super English” lessons will use software developed by a new startup in the language teaching “space,” Lingvist.io. Here’s how Lingvist summarizes its system: Lingvist applies mathematical optimization and statistics to make the language-learning process as fast as it can theoretically […]

How to Eliminate Second Language Reading Anxiety (Without Drugs or Alcohol)

Zhou (2017) looked at what makes second language readers “anxious” when reading. The factors Zhou examined, including amount of study abroad, previous study in the language, heritage language background, and number of foreign languages studied, accounted for only about 15% of the anxiety measured. I think a better way of addressing this issue is to consider that reading anxiety is a […]

Et tu, Wimpy Kid? What Teachers Get About Language Teaching that College Professors Don’t

There was an article on translating the first book of the popular Wimpy Kid series into Latin in today’s Wall Street Journal. The reporter interviewed a Latin teacher, the book’s publisher, and a college professor of classical languages. This is what the teacher said: “That’s so cool. I can’t wait,” says Ginny Lindzey, a veteran […]

The Most Studied, Fastest Growing, and “Best Represented” Languages in U.S. Colleges

A recent post by Brad Peterson on the supposed popularity of Chinese language study around the world sent me digging for some data on the whole question of what foreign/modern languages are popular in U.S. schools and, well, what we mean by “popular.” There are at least three ways you could define popular when it […]

Rosetta Stone and “Falling out of Favor”: Claims without Empirical Support

Note: The following guest post by Stephen Krashen concerns an article recently reviewed on TBL. by Stephen Krashen  I comment on two statements in K. Nielson’s paper, “Self-study with language learning software in the workplace: What happens?” published in Language Learning and Technology, 2011, 15 (3): 110-129. The first is the claim that Rosetta Stone is […]

And Then There Were None: Surviving Foreign Language Study

Study Reviewed  Nielson, K. (2011). Self-study with language learning software in the workplace: What happens? Language Learning & Technology, 15(3), 110-129. Almost no one who studies a foreign language in the United States gets very far.  Millions of high school and college students show up to their Spanish or Chinese I classes in the hopes […]