Theoretical Approaches to Second/Foreign Language Acquisition and/or Learning

In a recent post on the blog “Foreign Language Education in the 21st Century”, Jürgen Kurtz, Justus Liebig University Giessen, Germany, writes:

In a recent paper published in the Cambridge Handbook of Second Language Acquisition (Herschensohn & Young-Scholten 2013), Florence Myles looks at “the major theoretical families that currently exist in SLA research” (2013: 46). Comparing the most influential linguistic, cognitive, and sociocultural frameworks and approaches to second language acquisition, she identifies a number of divergent trends and “a plethora of different and seemingly conflicting claims” (2013: 46), arguing that due to the complexity of language and language learning “a single SLA theory is currently beyond our reach” (2013: 70). I agree in principle but there remains the question as to “where all the different and sometimes conflicting approaches originate from” (2013: 70). According to Myles, most of the seemingly irreconcilable theoretical positions that are under discussion today originate from conflicting views of the nature of language and language acquisition, but she remains relatively vague in this respect (2013: 70). Here are my thoughts on this: …

To read more, click here:

Theoretical Approaches to Second/Foreign Language Acquisition and/or Learning.

Survey: Investigating MFL teachers’ engagement with research

Colleagues from the University of York are investigating MFL teachers’ engagement with research and would like YOUR input:

Help needed!
What are your perceptions of research?
Have you ever used it? Would you like to? 

A group of researchers and teachers at the University of York are trying to find out about language teachers’ views about research and evidence, and about any engagement they have with research.

Please spare 15 minutes to complete the survey.

We are interested in knowing about the kinds of research activities that teachers engage in – such as reading about research online, in newsletters or in journals, hearing about it at workshops or conferences, or doing it yourself.  We’d also like to know what kind of evidence teachers consider to be important, for example, what tells teachers that something done in the classroom was effective? What kinds of problems do you think research might address? What informs the way we assess learning?

Please circulate the survey link as widely as possible!  The more responses we have, the more we can say about how engagement could be improved between research and teachers.

Reblogged: “A New Way to Teach Grammar: The Bilingual Option” by Wolfgang Butzkamm

Reblogged from the German SLA blog “Foreign Language Education in the 21st Century”:

A New Way to Teach Grammar: The Bilingual Option.


Wolfgang Butzkamm has long been an advocate of what he calls ‘enlightened monolingualism’, calling for language teachers to draw on the conscious and sub-conscious systemic and lexical L1 knowledge of their foreign language learners. In this guest post on , he showcases one of the techniques described in his 2009 book “The Bilingual Reform” which was reviewed by CLERA’s Elisabeth Wielander in “Für Sie gelesen”, Info-DAF 38 (2/3), April/Juni 2011, 181-183 (available for download here).

Butzkamm, Wolfgang & Caldwell, John A.W. (2009). The Bilingual Reform. A Paradigm Shift in Foreign Language Teaching. Tübingen: Narr.


FREE BOOK: Case Studies of Openness in the Language Classroom

Case studies of OpennessThis new book grew out of the conference “Learning through Sharing: Open Resources, Open Practices, Open Communication”, organised by the EUROCALL Teacher Education and Computer Mediated Communication (CMC) Special Interest Groups at the University of Bologna (Italy) in March 2012.

It showcases how practitioners in different settings are engaging with the concept of openness in language teaching and learning. The contributions address topics such as: open tools for collaboration; sharing resources; sharing practices; collaborative learning and student-generated content; and learner autonomy.

Download the book free of charge from

The book can also be purchased in a Kindle edition from Amazon, and as a black and white paperback from Lulu (with 20% discount) and from Amazon. It is also available on Google Books full view from October 2013.

For more information, click here.

CfP: International conference on MFL textbooks, Portugal

AlgarveA Call for Papers has been opened for the international conference “Le livre pédagogique en langue(s) étrangère(s) du XIXe siècle au XXIe siècle” which will take place at the Université d’Algarve, Portugal, on 12-13 December, 2013.

The deadline for submission of abstracts (350-500 words, plus short CV) is 15 October.

For more information, please visit the conference website.

Call for papers: International Conference ICT for Language Learning, Florence

ICTThe 6th edition of the Conference ICT for Language Learning will take place in Florence (Italy) on 14 – 15 November 2013.

The objective of the conference is to promote the sharing of good practice and transnational cooperation in the field of the application of Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) to Language Learning and Teaching. The conference is also an excellent opportunity for the presentation of previous and current language learning projects.

The Call for Papers is addressed to language teachers and experts as well as to coordinators of language projects and initiatives.

For more information and to download the CfP template, go to the conference website.

Current issue: Reading in a Foreign Language (RFL)


The April 2013 issue (Volume 25, Number 1) of the electronic journal Reading in
a Foreign Language (RFL) is now online and can be read at

This issue begins as a special issue, “Reading in Less Commonly Taught Languages”, edited by Neil J. Anderson of Brigham Young University. In the first article, Shen and Jiang provide valuable insights into reading fluency of Chinese characters, focusing their research on word segmentation accuracy and comprehension. The second
article in this special issue focuses on the value of phonics instruction in learning to read in Italian by Cihon, Morford, Stephens, Morrison, Shrontz, and Kelly, in which the authors provide information from three studies they conducted to illustrate the value of developing decoding skills in learning to read Italian.

In addition, there are two articles in our regular research section. Junko Yamashita examines word recognition and passage level reading. Ryoko de Burgh-Hirabe and Anne Feryok discuss a model for extensive reading motivation in the Japanese as a foreign language setting. We also have a review by Nancy Meredith of Mastering Academic Reading.

RFL is a scholarly, refereed journal published on the World Wide Web by the University of Hawai`i, with Richard R. Day and Thom Hudson as the co-editors and Anne Burns, Director of CLERA at Aston University, as the reviews editor.

The journal is sponsored by the National Foreign Language Resource Center (NFLRC), the University of Hawai‘i College of Languages, Linguistics and Literature, and the University of Hawai‘i Department of Second Language Studies. The journal is a fully-refereed journal with an editorial board of scholars in the field of foreign and second language reading. There is no subscription fee to readers of the journal. It is published
twice a year, in April and October. Detailed information about Reading in a Foreign Language can be found at

Newsletter: International Research Foundation for English Language Education

TIRF logo

The January 2013 edition of the International Research Foundation for English Language Education’s newsletter TIRF Today has just been published (click here: TIRF_Newsletter_2013_January).

In it, the President of the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages (ACTFL) shares the story behind Discover Languages® Month, Andrzej Cirocki, Professor of Applied Linguistics at Anglia Ruskin University, shares information about a new journal in the field of applied linguistics, and there is information about the Eighth International Conference on Language Teacher Education: Preparing Language Teacher Educators to Meet National and Global Needs, to be held at George Washington University from May 30 to June 1, 2013.


University of Southampton: ICT and Languages Conference 2013 (#ililc3)

Languages south east logoOn 9th & 10th February 2013, Languages South East will be hosting its very successful annual ICT and Languages conference at the University of Southampton.

This year’s conference title is ‘Jail breaking the MFL Classroom’ – aiming to explore current challenges in MFL and ways to extend teaching and learning beyond the classroom.  This two-day event has something for everyone. Whether you want to find out how to use blogs and wikis to trying out digital voice recorders or App design, you’ll be inspired to try something new!  A range of speakers will demonstrate tried and tested models for different skill levels with plenty of opportunity to get to grips with new ideas in practical workshops. You don’t have to be an expert in ICT to attend!

Sponsors include Televic, Pearson, Vocabexpress, CILT, Sparklespeak, Take Ten, OuP, Rosetta Stone, The EU commission amongst others.  Televic will host an MFL Show and Tell event on the at Jurys Inn, Southampton on Saturday evening from 7.30pm – which is free to attend, but must be signed up for in advance.

Keynote SpeakersJoe Dale & Isabelle Jones

Sessions include: Mobile learning, social media tools for learning and assessment, App design, using the ‘global’ classroom, supporting SEN through technology, developing speaking at all Key Stages, animation, subtitling, Web 2.0 tools and much more…

For more details about the event and the Show & Tell – including a fuller programme and booking , please visit .

News about the Extensive Reading Foundation (ERF)

ERF logoWhat is the Extensive Reading Foundation?
The Extensive Reading Foundation is a not-for-profit, charitable organization whose purpose is to support and promote extensive reading. One Foundation initiative is the annual Language Learner Literature Award for the best new works in English. Another is maintaining a bibliography of research on extensive reading. The Foundation is also interested in helping educational institutions set up extensive reading programs through grants that fund the purchase of books and other reading material.
The Second World Congress of Extensive Reading
The 2nd Extensive Reading World Congress will be held at Yonsei University, Seoul from September 14th & 15th, 2013.  The congress is being hosted by the Korean English Extensive Reading Association (KEERA).  The call for papers opened on December 1, 2012.  Click on the link – – to find out more.
The 2012 Language Learner Literature Award winners
Want to find some new and award winning books for extensive reading?  The winners of the 9th annual Language Learner Literature Awards were announced in October this year.  Five awards were presented in five different categories.  The 2012 awards are for books that were published in 2011.  To find out more about the awards, go to
The Extensive Reading Foundation You Tube Channel
The Extensive Reading Foundation has a You Tube Channel!  Check out Professor Richard Day talking about the benefits of extensive reading, as well as  Professor Bill Grabe’s plenary at the First ER World Congress.  You’ll find these talks and more at
New resources for teachers on Extensive Reading
The Guide to Extensive Reading is now available  to download for free in English, Japanese, and Chinese.  Go to  The guide looks at important questions such as how to plan and set up an extensive reading programme and how to select books. 
See also Dr. Rob Waring’s new article entitled, ‘Why ER should be an indispensable part of all language programs’.  To read the article, go to