Foreign language vocabulary: Effective practices for learning and teaching

Research-based advice for teaching vocab


Below are three quotes from one of many “technical reports” published by CASL, the Center for Advanced Study of Language at Maryland University. My intention here is simply to draw your attention to this report on vocab. learning, and, maybe more importantly, to the website. It’s a great resource (Mike Long just told me about it); there’s a rich variety of all sorts of interesting, well-written, well-supported  stuff there, and, since it’s financed by US tax-payers’ money, it’s all available for free download.

Here are the quotes:

Storage and retrieval of FL words

“Initial encoding of new lexical items and repeated encounters leading to additional learning are not sufficient to support fluent language use. Students must be able to reliably store the new items in long-term memory and successfully and quickly retrieve them when needed. In order to understand the specific challenges encountered by foreign language students, it is useful to briefly discuss several critical issues…

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Thoughts on IATEFL: Blinding Stars

This week, at IATEFL, a Chinese lady battled bravely to defend her educational context against a Western man, performing as he did to a Western audience, in a Western context. Every person in a debate argues from a framework, and the Western man played to his advantage that the framework he would argue from was the same framework that set the parameters of the debate. Never mind that the whole symposium was based on a fallacy of Continue reading

Workshop: Blogging to teach and to learn (Leeds Beckett Uni)

Lizzie Pinard

On the 8th of February, bright and early, I set off for Leeds. This was to deliver one of the sessions on the Leeds Beckett (was Metropolitan!) M.A. in ELT’s Multimedia and Independent Learning module. Yes, the self-same module in which all my learner autonomy geekery was born!

The topic of my workshop was “Blogging to teach and to learn”. In essence, the plan was to do the following:

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It may sound a bit ambitious, but we had around 2.5 hrs to play with, fortunately! (My longest workshop to date!)

So we started with the theory by talking about why theory mattered to this session:

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We need theory so that we don’t fall into the trap of just using technology for the sake of using technology. We need clear principles and purposes, which will help us to select which technology would best suit what we are planning to do…

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IATEFL and Teachers as Workers

One man’s voice against the industry.



There are more than 2 billion English learners worldwide. The turnover of the ELT industry for 2017 is predicted to be close to $2,000 billion. There are some 100 spectacular multi millionaires in the ELT industry, David Nunan, Jack Richards, and Raymond Murphy among them. The number of people involved in the ELT industry who earn more than $100,000 a year is difficult to count, but however many thousands of them there are, they’re mostly senior managers of ELT organisations , teaching institutions, and publishers; coursebook writers, and top teacher trainers. A sprinkling of these seriously rich people attend the IATEFL international conference every year and give it its glamour.

An estimated 250,000 native English speakers work as English teachers abroad, and it’s also estimated that 80% of English teachers in non-native English speaking countries are not native English speakers. So a very conservative estimate is that there are more…

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The Corpuswocky

Or maybe “The Jabbercorpus” has a better ring to it.

It’s well-known amongst teachers of FCE classes that learners, having made it to B2 level (and if they haven’t, they’re really in the wrong class, as evidenced by the plethora of inexperienced teachers desperately trying to work out how to teach all forms and uses of, say, ‘used to’ from scratch) and sitting in their FCE lessons, will be expected to Continue reading