Reap the benefits of learning a foreign language, plus second language research guide

Are you doing research on foreign languages? Perhaps you realize that career advancement is one of the many benefits of learning a foreign language. You may be a foreign language teacher who wants to find new material for use in your classroom. Whatever your needs, you can find tools, resources and materials online. Finding good second language research is just a matter of knowing where to look. Here are a few ideas to get you started.

Start Your Search Here

A good place to start your research project is Questia, the world’s largest online library of 77,000 full-text books and millions of articles from journals, magazines and newspapers. Use the search feature to enter a search term such as, “French language” and receive hundreds of listings from which to choose. A search on “foreign language” will lead to articles and books on methods of teaching foreign languages.

One of the articles you will find is “Web-enhanced Foreign Language Learning: Cest Si Bon!” by Jean Reese published in the November/December 2002 issue of Internet@Schools. The article contains a list of websites for both teachers and students interested in foreign languages. Reese pointed out that the beauty of the web is that it places numerous teaching resources within reach. Instead of creating from scratch, teachers can find such learning resources as lesson plans, quizzes, exercises and audio files.

Quia is a service on the Web that permits teachers to use already-created exercises or even create and edit their own online activities for a variety of subjects, including foreign languages. Quia allows for the construction of quizzes, games, flash card sets, and more,” Reese said.

Before You Make Your Move

If your interest in a foreign language stems from a desire to move to another country, you will want to visit Scott Lilly’s Moving Overseas blog. Lilly is an expat living in South America who shares advice, experiences and resources with his readers.

His list of online foreign language resources includes:

  • Foreign Language Institute (FSI Language Courses): public domain materials on 43 languages including audio files
  • Live Mocha: in addition to online courses you have the ability to connect with native speakers and practice your conversation skills with them in a secure, structured environment.
  • BBC Languages: chock full of resources such as online courses and a “Phrase of the Day,” this site also includes the ability to watch television programs from other countries and download transcripts.

Many people prefer to learn by listening. The convenience of podcasts is the answer for these auditory learners. Lilly suggested, “The easiest way to find them is through iTunes. Once you install iTunes on your computer, you can search through their podcasts. Search for the language you’re interested in and subscribe to the podcasts that you like.”

Second Language Studies

Sometimes in doing research you hit the mother lode. The Center for Applied Second Language Studies is such a site. Every blog post contains at least one resource related to the study of foreign languages. For example, the January 15, 2012 post titled, “Sinosplice Blog: Chinese Tone, Grammar, Writing, and More,” informed readers of a blog that can help its readers learn Chinese.

“Sinosplice is John Pasden’s blog about learning Chinese. Mr. Pasden is an applied linguist who works in Chinese language instruction. His blog posts often focus on tone in Chinese, and also discuss common difficulties in learning the language, available materials, methods, and grammar,” the post said.

Another post dated January 15, 2012 included a list of resources for those who are interested in starting a Chinese language program. The list included the Asia Society, the Chinese Language Association of Secondary and Elementary Schools, and the Chinese American Teachers Association (CATA).

Research Organizations

The U.S. Department of Education supports 15 Language Resource Centers (LRCs) nationwide to promote the teaching and learning of foreign languages. Located in universities such as Pennsylvania State and University of Texas at Austin, the LRCs conduct research, create teaching and learning materials, and offer professional development opportunities for teachers and instructors.

Other organizations of interest to those who are researching foreign languages include:

  • Center for Applied Linguistics (CAL)
  • American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages (ACTFL)
  • Center for Advanced Research on Language Acquisition (CARLA)
1 reply
  1. Ulrike Rettig says:

    I agree that learning a foreign language has huge benefits! I’ve been engaged in learning other languages most of my life and just love everything about it. So, I really thank you for introducing me to a couple of resources that are new to me: questia and quia. These look like rich resources for research, as well as for making quizzes, exercises, games, etc. I also was not familiar with The Center for Applied Second Language. I’ll pass these resources on to our gamesforlanguage team and to friends who are language aficionados. Muchas gracias, danke, merci, grazie, bedankt!


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