Workshop: Narrating the Crisis – Discursive Paradigms in Spanish Cultural Production


New publications by CLERA members

New Publications:

Copland, F., Garton, S. and Burns, A.  ‘Challenges in Teaching English to Young Learners: Global Perspectives and Local Realities’  is now published on-line with TESOL Quarterly.

Conteh, J., Copland, F. and Creese, A.  ‘Multilingual teachers’ resources in three different contexts: empowering learning’, in Conteh J. & Meier G. (eds) The Multilingual Turn in Languages Education: Opportunities and Challenges, published by Multilingual Matters

Stop the press!

CLERA Distinguished Lecture will be held on Thursday 13th November at 4pm.  We are delighted to welcome Professor Jennifer Jenkins, University of Southampton, whose talk is entitled “Diverse Englishes, intercultural communication, and ‘international’ universities”.  Please book your place at this free event by contacting:

Now Available: The Dortmund Historical Corpus of Classroom English (DOHCCE)

Foreign Language Education in the 21st Century

posted by Jürgen Kurtz, Justus Liebig University (JLU) Giessen, Germany


The Dortmund Historical Corpus of Classroom English (DOHCCE) is a digitally reconstructed duplicate of a hitherto unpublished collection of classroom transcripts compiled by a small research team at the former Ruhr University of Education, Dortmund in the early 1970s. It comprises a total of 36 originally typewritten and carefully annotated paper transcripts of English as a Foreign Language lessons conducted in several comprehensive schools in the federal German state of North Rhine-Westphalia. Since all lessons were held before the inception and widespread uptake of the communicative approach in Germany, the transcripts provide a unique glimpse into an era of instructed language learning that still echoes today.

Brief extract:

Grade 9 (February 15, 1974; Transcript #22 in the Pre-Digital EFL Corpus)

16562 L. Our topic at the moment is Canada. So we have heard
16563 a little bit about the history of…

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And finally, in Butzkamm’s latest post, he reports on the latest developments in the international SLA community towards a paradigm shift he himself has been advocating for decades: the re-evaluation and revaluation of principled L1 use in L2 teaching and learning.

Foreign Language Education in the 21st Century

by Wolfgang Butzkamm, Aachen University (RWTH), Germany

Goodbye Berlitz, goodbye Helen Doron, goodbye Rosetta Stone…
The fact that small children grow into their native language without the help of another one, has inspired countless reformers. Charles Berlitz proclaimed himself the inventor of the direct method (which he wasn’t), and in his schools any use of the learners’ native language was taboo. In our times Helen Doron schools similarly claim to be using „the only internationally acclaimed early English learning method that allows children to absorb English in exactly the same way they learn their mother tongue”, i.e. without translation of any kind. The central idea, the exclusion of the children’s own language, has also been adopted by many public school systems and official guidelines for teachers, although in a less strict and dogmatic manner. A methodological monolingualism became the mainstream philosophy, as evidenced in many textbooks. The use of the…

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Another brief post by Wolfgang Butzkamm, this time on the Sandwich Technique, a useful tool towards what could be called Butzkamm’s mission statement: “We have to understand the apparent paradox that by using the mother tongue skillfully we will eventually manage to conduct whole lessons in the foreign language only”.

Foreign Language Education in the 21st Century

by Wolfgang Butzkamm, Aachen University (RWTH), Germany

Let me share with you what I think is the most important single technique in foreign language teaching, i.e. the sandwich technique. It is a prominent feature of C.J. Dodson’s bilingual method (1967) and was probably invented by him. When modeling a dialogue sentence for students to repeat, the teacher not only gives an oral mother tongue equivalent for unknown words or phrases, but repeats the foreign language phrase before students imitate it: L2 => L1 => L2.

German teacher of English: Let me try. Lass mich mal versuchen. Let me try.
Students: Let me try.

With this simple trick, interference from the mother tongue is avoided and students can fully concentrate on repeating the foreign phrase correctly. This bilingual technique makes it easier to establish the foreign language as the working language of the classroom. By and by, the teacher introduces…

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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 the German SLA blog “Foreign Language Education in the 21st Century”, he explains why the ‘Mother Tongue is the Mother of all Languages’.
If you want to learn more about Butzkamm’s work, find links to his publications, and watch video recordings of some of his lectures and of classroom practice, go to his website:

Foreign Language Education in the 21st Century

by Wolfgang Butzkamm, Aachen University (RWTH), Germany

Ethnographers and anthropologists have entertained us with amusing stories of cultural practices. These practices, which may seem quaint to some of us, are real nonetheless, as real as the differences between languages. For instance, we are interested in the rites, simple or elaborate, developed in many of the world’s cultures, to predict the future. Ways, basically, of asking the gods. As we marvel at these strikingly different practices and beliefs we ignore what is common to them. I mean of course, the apparently universal human need to see into the future, to decipher what is ahead of us, what is to come, in order to help us make the right decisions. We tend to overlook that there is a common ground here, same as we overlook the core concepts behind the various expressive devices of different languages. Essentially, all languages dance the same…

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Languages for All shortlisted for Guardian University Award

Aston University’s Languages for All, the free language provision programme for all undergraduate students, has been shortlisted by the Guardian University Awards, in the Student Experience category. The results will be announced on 27 February 2013.
For more details, see:

The Director of the programme is Emmanuelle Labeau who is a staff member of CLERA
and who was featured as our Researcher of the Month for November.
Congratulations, Emmanuelle!

Queen’s English Society folds in face of changing nature of English

Founded 40 years ago to champion ‘good’ English and to improve the standard of written and spoken English, the Queen’s English Society will cease all activities on June 30, 2012. The QES’ main causes, among others, were to ‘celebrat[e] the richness and diversity of the English language’ and ‘[bring] to public attention the very low standards of English that exist’. Over the years, it has championed the ‘revival of reading stories to young children’ and ‘the improvement of the standard of English in exams’, and helped ‘shape the spelling, punctuation and grammar elements of English in the national curriculum’.

Recently, the society has struggled to find people interested in taking on official roles within QES. Society chair Rhea Williams: “Things change, people change. People care about different things. If you look at lots of societies, lots of them are having problems. Lives have changed dramatically over the last 40 years. People don’t want to join societies like they used to.”

To learn more about his story, read this article in the Guardian and this commentary by Prof Paul Kerswill, Professor of Sociolinguistics at University Of York, in the Sun.