Language Acquisition

The podcasts I listen to and how BusinessWeek got it wrong

Is Podcasting revolution over before it began? BusinessWeek seems to think so and quotes Pew Internet & American Life Project’s statistics. The topic is also generating some buzz in the blogosphere, with BusinessWeek’s interpretation being gleefully accepted by some and thoughtfully rejected by others. I believe into podcasting’s future because it is here already for me. I have a 40 minute walk to work each day, so I have over six hours of content a week I can consume.

Language learning and public content – ‘I am Tarzan’

I frequently say that public domain books are a great source of further innovation and small business ideas. Today I found another example that brings together several of the themes I track: Language acquisition, Publishing and Public Domain books. Mark Phillips has taken Tarzan of the Apes book that is now available in public domain and rewritten parts of it to teach grammar as part of the story. The resulting self-published book Tarzan and Jane’s Guide to Grammar (or Amazon link) has been selling quite well in schools for a year or so.

Learning language like children do – as if!

I keep hearing the claims that one should try learning a foreign language like children do. Roseta Stone is a famous example of software that convinces people that they can do just that. I have a couple of problems with that approach. First one is that even if the immersion method was sufficient, it would have to be as immersive as what a child gets - 24 hours a day minus sleep.

Interlanguage and fossilization – thoughts of the language learner

I got suckered again. Steve Kaufmann - founder of has been asked by a learner who is also studying to be a second language teacher about the concepts of interlanguage and fossilization. Given that Steve does not hold much respect for educational theories, I thought it would be interesting to see him stretched a bit on the concepts that he must have observed first hands multiple times. My mistake. But I did spend time thinking about it, so I might as well put it down.

E-book discussion at the Philips’ Simplicity forums

Philips recently had a Simplicity event, where they showcased a number of concept products that may or may not make it into the real world in the future. To go along with the event, Philips also setup a voting board for a number of discussion topics. One of the topics currently under discussion is whether e-books are a good idea. You can pick a side and argue out your position or vote on the arguments of others.