Indwelling Language and Stephen Krashen at NTPRS 2015

The first day at NTPRS 2015 (this year’s national conference for the system called Teaching Proficiency through Reading and Storytelling) has been exhilarating: I’ve enjoyed conversations with teachers and presenters that I had known only through the internet or by fame and had been eager to meet in person, and have been pleasantly surprised to hear that I have been […]

Balancing Research and Experience

If you’ve ever tried to compile a bibliography of sources on issues in language teaching and learning—issues such as the roles of input and output, error correction, age of onset (when someone starts learning a language), explicit instruction, social and emotional factors, etc.—then you’ve noticed at least one thing: You can find an article or […]

Grammar Is Not a Skill, or, What Does It Really Mean to Know a Language?

I’m thrilled to share my first contribution to the reinvented Musicuentos Black Box Podcast, a collection of resources created to form a bridge between Second Language Acquisition research and everyday practice. We hope that, whether you are a teacher or a learner, this new video series will provide you with both information and inspiration! This episode, […]

Looking backward and forward

It’s usually in January that we talk about that month’s namesake Janus, the Roman god who peers simultaneously into the past and into the future. Myself, I’m most drawn to that split gaze around the end of the academic year, when the events of this one are still fresh and the possibilities of the next burn bright. Whether you’re […]

Do What You Feel Like

“Do what you feel like” can be devastating moral advice, but for language-learning that doesn’t have an impending deadline, it’s a great way to maximize joy and success. Here’s what I mean: This morning I felt like reading young adult fantasy fiction in French. Fortunately, I had sitting by my bed a copy of Harry Potter à l’école des sorciers […]

Optical Illusions

The last post celebrated the role mystery can play in language learning. Optical illusions present us with a genre of mystery that (a) holds almost everyone’s attention for a little while and (b) lends itself to using lots of high-frequency language structures. In addition to whatever words are relevant to a particular illusion, the discussion […]

Making the Most of Mystery

Last year, with input from students, I wrote a mystery one of whose central features is a small, sealed box that the protagonist finds and seeks to open. The desire to know what’s in the box plays a key role in propelling the reader through the story. Last night, I came across a brilliantly simple suggestion from Adam Beck (@BeckMonkeys) for making […]

Limiting your language learning–on purpose

The best journaling advice I ever got was to follow a firm rule not to write more than a single page per daily journaling session. The prediction was that this limitation would actually increase my total writing because it would make the task less daunting and would therefore make me more likely actually to sit down and […]