The First Step to Become a Self-Directed Language Learner

Monday, November 3rd, 2014

I was working with an English learner from China the other day, and she mentioned that she was getting her driver’s license. In China, the first step in getting a driver’s license involves studying for and taking a 100 question multiple choice exam and passing with at least 90% accuracy.

My response: Wow! 100 questions? I’d never pass!

Her response: No. It’s no big deal. We’re Chinese. That’s what we do. We’re very good at taking tests. …Continue Reading

Are you a self-directed language learner?

Saturday, November 1st, 2014

So there you are. Sitting in front of your computer. You suddenly get the urge to learn Cantonese. Do you know what to do? …Continue Reading

What’s wrong with language learner compensation strategies at the higher levels?

Monday, October 6th, 2014

A common attitude held by language learners is that one course or a series of sequential courses will allow them to meet their individual goals. The reality of proficiency development is that while the lower levels breeze by for learners, at the higher levels it will often seem as if the same learners plateau.

In fact, by the time language learners reach the advanced levels, they have often developed a complex set of compensation strategies which allow them to …Continue Reading

What is an individual difference? How to accommodate?

Friday, October 3rd, 2014

What are your individual differences?

I was completing a book review the other day and I came across the term ‘individual difference’ for language learners. Then last week I was finishing an article with a colleague and we got stuck on the draft. The problem? We were working through defining and including ‘individual differences’.

What are individual differences? …Continue Reading

Not Everyone Is A Master Language Learner

Saturday, September 6th, 2014

What’s the connection between culture, class (as in social-capital) and language? Check out this article from The Atlantic, the story of a mid-career, African-American professional enrolling in an intensive language program.

Coates, the author, highlights not only what it means to be an effective language learner in one of the world’s most renowned language programs, but it also touches on the fact that the skills needed for success are gifted to us through our families and upbringing, termed social-capital, and that certain lucky individuals come into these programs as master learners not because they are smarter, but because of their previous learning experiences. This access to social-capital (or lack of) has been documented in university programs across the US for many years now.

The idea that there are ‘master’ language learners among us bears consideration. …Continue Reading