How to Learn a Language

learningIn the field of second language acquisition, Stephen Krashen is something of a guru and leading light. For whatever reason, this four year old piece from the Washington Post popped up on my news feed today, a response from Krashen to someone else’s explanation of how to learn languages. The person he’s refuting, a certain Andrew Eil, claimed that he learned to speak four language through ‘boot camp’ style, intense grammar and vocab study with forced production.

Not so, Krashen proclaims. What’s actually needed is not grammar and vocab study – that’s not how we learn our native tongues, after all – or uncomfortable speaking. No, the answer is “comprehensible input”, namely reading and listening. The more we take in and understand, the better our overall grasp of the language will become. We need to internalize rules, not have them fed to us.

What do you think? Is Krashen right? Is Eil? Neither, both, something in between?

In Defense of the Singular, Genderless ‘They’

They has a long and noble history in English, going back to  at least the 1200s in writing and certainly much further back in the spoken tongue. And as early as the time of Chaucer, they was used to denote a singular person. Shakespeare used it that way too. More recently, the American Dialect Society has given their imprimatur to singular they.

Just as singular they is  finally starting to get its fair shakes, a new use is arising: the genderless pronoun. Read more about that here:  ‘They’: the singular pronoun that could solve sexism in English | Books | The Guardian

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