Memo to The American Conservative: Bilingual Education Will Not Actually Make Californians Bilingual

A writer at The American Conservative website has a long discussion on the supposed perils of bilingualism that, he believes, may soon come to pass now that California has voted to allow schools to use bilingual education in the teaching of English. Unhappily, the writer does not appear to have any actual knowledge of bilingual education programs. I […]

This Week In Language Education: April 21, 2017

Note: This post is an experiment in which I link to and comment on recent news and research developments in language education. It’s the sort of thing I’d like to get in my own email box each week, but since no one else seems willing to do it, I’ll give it a go. Why Language Learning Apps […]

What Kaplan and Princeton Review Don’t Want You to Know About the SAT

A recent article in the New York Times recommended that students from low-income backgrounds should prepare for the SAT (Scholastic Achievement Test) “like a rich kid” by spending hundreds of hours studying test prep books, visiting tutors, and taking online cram courses. This is very poor advice, whether you are rich or not. Most studies find […]

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 […]

How Many Words Can You Acquire in a Year?

There is an exchange in the current issue of Reading in a Foreign Language regarding papers that Paul Nation and I published on the number of words one can acquire through free reading. The original papers are here: Nation (2014) McQuillan (2016) The exchange is here: Tom Cobb’s critique Paul Nation’s response My response I will add […]

In Case You Missed It: What Can Readers Read After Graded Readers?

Earlier this year I published an article in Reading in a Foreign Language about reading your way to fluency in English. Check it out here (free!). Print PDF

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 […]

Spelling Nonsense Words Requires Rules Useful in Spelling Nonsense Words

Study Reviewed:  P. Mitchell, N. Kemp, & P. Bryant. (2011). Variations among adults in their use of morphemic spelling rules and word-specific knowledge when spelling. Reading Research Quarterly, 46(2), 119-133. There’s no better way to start a discussion of almost any topic related to reading and writing than a quote from Frank Smith.  Here’s one […]

Do You Need to Read 8,000,000 Words to Acquire 2,000?

Study Reviewed: Hill, M., & Laufer, B. (2003). Type of task, time-on-task and electronic dictionaries in incidental vocabulary acquisition. International Review of Applied Linguistics, 41(2), 87–106. I recently came across a reference to a claim related to vocabulary acquisition that struck me as rather usual: Hill & Laufer (2003) stated that a second language reader […]

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 […]

Even Better Than You Think: More Good News for Incidental Vocabulary Acquisition

Study Reviewed Frishkoff, G., K Collins-Thompson, C. Perfetti, and J. Callan. (2008).  Measuring incremental changes in word knowledge: Experimental validation and implications for learning and assessment.  Behavior Research Methods, 40(4), 907-925. We have long known that we acquire most of our vocabulary, in both a first and second language, through reading (Krashen, 1989).  Our knowledge […]

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 […]

All Correction, All the Time: Is Written Error Correction Worth the Effort?

Studies reviewed: Evans, N., K.J. Hartshorn, R. McCollum, & M. Wolfersberger. (2010). Contextualizing corrective feedback in second language writing pedagogy. Language Teaching Research, 14(4), 445 -463. Hartshorn, K.J., N. Evans, P. Merrill, R. Sudweeks, D Strong-Krause, & N. Anderson. (2010). Effects of dynamic corrective feedback on ESL writing accuracy. TESOL Quarterly, 44(1), 84-109. Evans, N., K.J. […]

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 […]

Is The Library Important? Multivariate Studies at the National and International Level

Stephen Krashen, University of Southern California Syying Lee, National Taipei University Jeff. McQuillan, Center for Educational Development Citation: Krashen, S., Lee, S., & McQuillan, J. (2012). Is the Library Important? Multivariate Studies at the National and International Level. Journal of Language and Literacy Education [Online], 8(1), 26-38. Available at  Abstract Three multivariate analyses, all controlling for the […]

Welcome to The Backseat Linguist!

The Backseat Linguist is my personal project, allowing me to comment on and post research related to second language acquisition and language education in general.  It has no official association with my job as host of English as a Second Language Podcast, and the opinions expressed here are strictly my own. This blog is “backseat” […]