Significant Educational Articles

Here is a collection of significant and interesting articles on various aspects of L2 education. For your convenience there are brief descriptions of each article and  short excerpts.  The material comes from a variety of educational  sources.

New material will be added periodically. In the meantime, if you know of an article that you think should be included in this list please let us know and we’d be happy to include it here.


Linguistics and Second Language Acquisition by Vivian Cook

TESL-EJ Vol. 1. No. 3 — March 1995

by Vivian Cook (1993)
New York: St. Martin’s Press Pp. x + 313.

Cook discusses linguistics and the role it plays in second language acquisition.

“Chapter 1 begins with a disclaimer of sorts, that is, Cook makes clear that his focus is on linguistics and SLA, not psycholinguistics, sociolinguistics, or language teaching. He does, however, make specific reference to work in those areas. To my mind, this is one of the real strengths of this text: Cook is up-front about his domain of coverage, but by citing work outside that domain he evidences a breadth that is all too rare in a field obsessed with borders. Having issued this disclaimer, Cook goes on to provide a rather complete assessment of early work of relevance to SLA research, including reference to the work of Weinreich on up through interlanguage and approximative systems.”

First and Second Language Acquisition  by Vivian Cook

‘Linguistics and Second Language Acquisition: One Person with Two Languages’

Extract from V.Cook (2000)

This is another  article by Vivian Cook, in which she includes a comparison chart that makes it easy to analyze the differences and similarities of L1 and L2 learners at a glance.

What are the similarities between L2 learning and L1 acquisition?

“A continuing theme has been whether people acquire a second language in the same way as a first. If the L2 stages outlined above are also followed by L1 children, both groups are probably using the same learning process. The L2 sequence for English grammatical morphemes was similar, though not identical, to that found in L1 acquisition by Brown (1972), the greatest differences being the irregular past tense (broke), articles (the), copula and auxiliaries (Dulay, Burt & Krashen, 1982). Other similar sequences of syntactic acquisition have been found in L1 and L2 learning. L2 learners, like L1 learners, start by believing that John is the subject of please in both John is easy to please and John is eager to please and only go on to discover it is the object in John is easy to please after some time.”

Lateral Communications

L2 Acquisition: Listening by Michael Rost

February 28th, 2011

Michael Rost is the principal of Lateral Communications. Well-known for his research and writing in the area of listening, including his most recent work Teaching and Researching Listening, all Lateral Communications project have an underlying foundation in listening as the basis of language acquisition. Interesting discussion about the essential role listening has on L2 language development.

“While virtually all children learn to listen in their first language as part of their language acquisition process, even when their environment is only minimally supportive of their efforts, the case for second language learning is not nearly as optimistic. It is has been noted that for a person to learn a second language three major conditions are required: (1) a learner who realizes the need to learn the second language and is motivated to do so; (2) speakers of the target language who know it well enough to provide the learner with access to the spoken language and the support (such as simplification, repetition, and feedback) they need for learning it; and (3) a social setting which brings the learner in frequent enough and sustained enough contact with target language speakers to make language learning possible. Most cases of difficulty or failure of a learner, either a child or an adult, to acquire a second language are generally due to a lack in one or more of these factors. (Wong-Fillmore, 1991). Listening is required in two of these conditions, and is therefore an essential means of language development, a point that is often overlooked in language pedagogy and research. In Second Language Acquisition (SLA) research, listening opportunities are often characterized as the “linguistic environment” – the stage for second language acquisition.”

The International TEYL Journal

L2 Acquisition: Reading by Carol Fedyk

Fedyk discusses the importance to reading and how it leads L2 learners to increased language acquisition.

“Have you ever watched a child as she becomes enchanted with a story? The characters live in her imagination; the setting becomes imprinted in her mind’s eye. Children learning English as a second language should have a portion of their class time dedicated to reading. Reading English texts will lead to increased language acquisition for the child learning English as a second language; the child will have an increased sense of confidence when reading, writing, and speaking English. Whether the student reads independently or is read to by the teacher, a designated reading time will increase her L2 acquisition.

To aid in the discussion of reading and L2 acquisition, we must define the concept of language acquisition. Language is a method of communication whether written, oral or gestured, “the process by which human creatures communicate with each other” (Harlan and Hansen 330). Acquisition means “to gain by one’s own effort” (Webster’s Dictionary 5). For the purpose of this paper language acquisition is defined as a person using individual effort to learn and utilize the English language. In the article Helping ESL Students Improve Their Writing, it states “language acquisition theory means that reading and listening to a large amount of comprehensible English is essential to improving a student’s English language ability” (2). Reading increases a student’s competency and confidence when learning English as a second language.”

NCSALL National Center for the Study of Adult Learning and Literacy

Volume 4, Issue A :: March 2000

The Relationship Between Reading and Speaking Skills by Ann Hilferty

This is an interesting interview with Ann Hilferty, who is assistant professor of English at the Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences. This article explains some of the research that shows the reciprocal relationship between speaking and reading.

“By reciprocity I mean that as skills in some aspect of oral language increase, they help development in reading, and as a person improves his reading skills, that improvement seems to enhance further improvement in the spoken language. This seems to be a continuing spiral.

I became interested in this because some adult ESOL teachers don’t seem to think that it is true. They seem to think there’s somewhat of a one-way influence: that development in spoken language influences development of reading. That’s true, but it’s also true that as people develop stronger reading skills, they further enable their development of more sophisticated speaking skills.”

Metacognitive Reading Skills and Strategies

Instruction of Metacognitive Strategies Enhances Reading Comprehension and Vocabulary Achievement of Third-Grade Students

By: Regina Boulware-Gooden, Suzanne Carreker, Ann Thornhill, and R. Malatesha Joshi (2007)

Here’s a very interesting article because the authors present an excellent example of a teacher using a metacognitive strategy with her third-grade students, I urge teachers to read this.

“Comprehension is the reason for reading, and vocabulary plays a significant role in comprehension (National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, 2000). The question is, What kind of instruction best promotes the development of comprehension and vocabulary? Consider the following reading comprehension lesson (the teacher’s name is a pseudonym):

“What time is it when an elephant sits on a fence?” Mrs. Thornton asks as she begins a reading lesson with her third-grade class. The class laughs and responds in unison, “Time to fix the fence.”

“What makes that riddle funny?” Mrs. Thornton asks. The students discuss the image of a big elephant climbing up onto a fence and the multiple meanings of the word time as the reasons that the riddle is funny.

“Today you will read an expository passage and learn more about elephants. Let’s see what you know about elephants.” Mrs. Thornton asks a series of questions: How tall are elephants? How much do they weigh? Are there different kinds of elephants? What do elephants eat? How do they use their trunks? The students jot down their answers to these questions.”

Think-Aloud Protocols in Reading Magaly Lavadenz

Center for Applied Linguistics (CAL)

December 2003

Think-Aloud Protocols: Teaching Reading Processes to Young Bilingual Students by Magaly Lavadenz, Loyola Marymount University

Here’s an interesting article by Magaly Lavadenz. She discusses using think-aloud protocols with elementary-school age bilingual students. It has several  good examples that I think you’ll find helpful.

“Research on reading development has shown that good readers use strategies that are not used by poor readers (Grabe & Stoller, 2002). Research also suggests that students learning to read can and need to be taught how to use specific strategies for understanding a text (Anderson, 1999, p. 70; Grabe & Stoller, 2002). Chamot and O’Malley (1994) include strategy instruction as the “third and central component of CALLA” [Cognitive Academic Language Learning Approach] (p. 11), and they stress the importance of instruction in the use of explicit strategies in language development.

Readers need instruction from the teacher and guided practice if reading strategy training is to be successful. Winograd and Hare (1988) explain that the teacher needs to describe what the strategy is; why the strategy should be learned; and how, when, and where the strategy should be used.”

Building Fluent and Accurate Readers

Business Network (BNET)

How Paired Reading Can Help Build Reading Rate and Fluency by Daqi Li and Sandra Nes.

Here’s a good article by Daqi Li and Sandra Nes, “Using Paired Reading to Help ESL Students Become Fluent and Accurate Readers.”  They offer ideas about how to build your students’ rate, comprehension, and fluency.

Many ESL students with limited English proficiency (LEP) struggle with reading fluency and accuracy. For these students to experience school success, educators must find ways to help them master such reading skills. This study investigated the effects of paired reading on reading fluency and reading accuracy of four ESL students with LEP. Using a single-subject research design, the study paired the students with a skilled reader and examined students’ reading performances under different controlled conditions. The results of the study showed that all four students benefited from the paired reading intervention and demonstrated steady improvement in reading fluency and accuracy. This finding indicates that paired reading can serve as a useful instructional alternative to facilitate ESL students in learning to read in English.

Over the past years, schools in the United States have witnessed a big increase in the number of students who speak English as a second language (ESL). Many such students have limited English proficiency. Language barriers can hinder academic progress, as well as social development. To insure the high quality of education in American schools, education programs must take into account the special needs of students from diverse racial and linguistic backgrounds.”

The Stroop Test and Languages

Cambridge Journal Stroop effect in Spanish–English bilinguals by Monica Rosselli, PhD.

“The aim of this study was to analyze the performance of Spanish–English bilinguals on the Golden Stroop Test…”

Differential processing of Kanji and Kana stimuli in Japanese people: Some implications from Stroop-test results T Hatta – Neuropsychologia, 1981 – Elsevier

On processing Chinese ideographs and English words: Some implications from Stroop-test results* 1

[PDF] from

I Biederman… – Cognitive Psychology, 1979 – Elsevier

“When Chinese subjects tried to name the color of characters which represented conflicting color words, they showed markedly greater interference than did English speaking readers performing an English version of the same task. This effect cannot be attributed to bilingualism …”

Useful Links

A few interesting and useful links relating to education and L2 Learning.

Literacy Online

Here’s a major United State Web site dealing with literacy issues concerning young people and adults.

Teaching Journals

Teaching Journals

This Web site offers several concise and helpful articles about teaching journals.