Why All Language Teachers Should Be Language Learners

Next time you meet a language teacher, ask, “So, what language are you learning?” You should find out what the person teaches, too–and a wise answer might include whatever the person teaches–but a good language teacher should always have at least one other language she is learning herself. Why? First, a teacher should learn languages […]

My Favorite Language-Learning App is Temple Run 2

There are lots of language-learning apps out there—duolingo, Byki, Busuu, etc.–not to mention all the flashcard and quiz apps. But my favorite language-learning apps are these: Temple Run 2, 2048, Civilization, and FIFA 2014. “Aren’t these games,” you ask?  Yes, and they’re free, too. (Except Civilization.) “But they don’t even have spoken words!” True, and I […]

Your Language-Learning Happy Place

Your Happy Place is a mental state or a physical setting in which you are most at ease or most energized. You may have a general Happy Place, or you may have a host of Happy Places for different activities or purposes. Do you have a language-learning Happy Place? Mine are (a) just after breakfast, in […]

Pre-Reading and Three-Reading

The last post celebrated the benefits of rereading texts. This post delivers the promised rereading activity that you can use on your own or with a small group if you are an autodidact, or, if you are a teacher, can conduct in class or assign to students. If you’ve tried adding a bunch of different sounds […]

Don’t Read, Reread

It wouldn’t be unfair of you to ask why I read a letter this morning written to someone other than me, or why I did so twice, once silently and once aloud, or why these were the fifth and sixth times this week that I had read this same letter. “Curiously enough, one cannot read a […]

What You Can Do, I Can Talk About: Using students’ quirky skills to generate language

In the last post we talked about using party tricks as something to talk about in a target language. In a classroom setting, students’ special skills, including party tricks, are a compelling, useful source of content. Just like with a picture, movie, or story, the teacher can use students’ non-linguistic skills either to target specific linguistic […]

Party Tricks

I don’t have the best party tricks. My elbows and one thumb are double-jointed (see GIF), but I haven’t parlayed that into on-demand entertainment. I don’t do any good impressions. I can’t fold my tongue into a swan shape, although I can fold a hand towel into something like a Cornish game hen (picture below, video […]

Spare No Tupperware: Erasmus on living in the language

Like most people, I read some Erasmus this morning.  A friend had asked for a particular passage in Erasmus’s booklet De Ratione Studii (roughly, “On Study Habits”); after finding the passage, I was intrigued enough to read the book from the beginning.  Several pages in, I found a delightful, Indwelling-Language-evoking passage in which Erasmus discusses internalizing […]

“Whatever” Works: Non-Targeted CI Lesson 4, “Frivolity Is the Mother Of Invention”

My second thought when I see this is “Think of all the classy waffles I could make.” This is the Pixel, a customizable waffle maker; you can create your own design by depressing any of the 81 squares. But my first thought is, “This is Non-Targeted CI gold.” That’s right, golden-brown on the breakfast table is straight gold an hour later. […]