Are You a Linguistic Bigot?

I thought it would be timely to speak about language related bigotry on the same day that a bigoted demagogue has been sworn in as the 45th president of the United States. “Linguistic discrimination”, also known as “linguicism”, is one of the darkest corners of sociolinguistics, but also one of the most fascinating. Though it’s a complex and highly controversial topic, in simple terms, linguicism is defined as: The unfair treatment of an individual based on their native language, dialect, accent, vocabulary, word choice, syntax, etc. Sadly, this form of discrimination can be found in every corner of the globe. As I’ve traveled the world—and even different pockets of my home country—I have witnessed countless cases of people being treated better or worse based on their native tongue or regional dialect.

Are Outdated Methods & Boring Materials Making You a Language Learning Masochist?

The Internet has blessed modern language learners with unprecedented access to foreign language tools, materials, and native speakers. Assuming they can get online, even a farmhand in rural Kansas can learn Japanese for free using Skype, YouTube, and Lang-8. But language learning luddites and technophobes scoff at these modern miracles. Like Charleton Heston clutching his proverbial rifle, they desperately cling to tradition for tradition’s sake, criticizing these modern tools—and the modern methods they enable—from their offline hideouts. Communicating via messenger pigeon and smoke signals no doubt… “Technology is for for lazy learners!” they exclaim. “Real language learners”, they insist, use the classroom-based, textbook-driven, rote-memory-laden techniques of old. I call bullshit.

10 Secrets Language Schools Don’t Want You to Know

Language schools can be a wonderful place to learn more about your target language, meet fellow learners (who can become both study partners or even lifelong friends), and get your linguistic and cultural feet wet before (or even while) immersing yourself in a new culture and foreign tongue. However, language schools can also be a major impediment to the very goal you go there to achieve: learning a foreign language as quickly and efficiently as possible. This may come as a shock to those who have been conditioned to believe that classrooms are the only place, or at least the best place, to learn a language. Read on to see the top ten disadvantages of formal, classroom-based language learning.

Input vs. Output: John’s 2¢ on the Debate

As a language learning addict, I follow lots (and I mean lots) of polyglot blogs and podcasts. It is always interesting to see what has worked (and what hasn’t worked) for successful language learners. While most agree on the vast majority of language learning DOs and DON’Ts, there is one area that always seems to cause heated debate: input (i.e. listening and reading) versus language output (i.e. speaking and writing). Here’s where I throw down on the issue…

Why Grammar-based Instruction is Bunk

In recent years, grammar mavens and traditional language educators have been up in arms against a perceived attack on “the righteous study of grammar”. These defensive claims always perplex me considering that nearly all language classes still spend the vast majority of class hours teaching and testing grammar rules…