If you are looking for a "primer" on Bill's approach to language acquisition and teaching, check out this talk given at the Michigan World Language Association conference in November 2013. The talk is divided in six shorter "chunks" - you can use the Playlist Menu on the top left corner of the video player to navigate through the talk.

These are (roughly) the subtopics for each section:

  1. What’s in your head isn’t necessarily what you think is there & practice isn’t what it’s cracked up to be (Part 1);
  2. Practice isn’t what it’s cracked up to be (Part 2);
  3. Communication is distinct from mental representation;
  4. You can’t automatically blame the first language (Part 1);
  5. You can’t automatically blame the first language (Part 2);
  6. It isn’t always about aptitude.



Looking to go deeper? Here is a list of recommended readings to get you started:

  • Lee, J. F., & VanPatten, B. (2003). Making communicative language teaching happen. New York: McGraw-Hill.
  • Lightbown, P.M. (1985). Great expectations: Second-language acquisition research and classroom teaching. Applied Linguistics, 6(2), 173-189. 
  • Pinker, S. (1994). The language instinct: How the mind creates language. New York: Harper Perennial.
  • VanPatten, B. (2003). From input to output: A teacher’s guide to second language acquisition. New York: McGraw-Hill.
  • VanPatten, B. (2010). The two faces of SLA: Mental representation and skill. International Journal of English Studies, 10(1), 1-18,167.
  • Van Patten, B. (2014). Creating Comprehensible Input and OutputThe Language Educator, 7(4), 24-26.
  • VanPatten, B., & Benati, A. (2015). Key terms in second language acquisition. 2nd edition. London: Bloomsbury.
  • VanPatten, B., Borst, S., Collopy, E., Qualin, A., & Price, J. (2013). Explicit information, grammatical sensitivity, and the First-noun Principle: A cross-linguistic study in processing instruction. The Modern Language Journal, 97(2), 506-527.
  • VanPatten, B., & Rothman, J. (2013). Against “Rules”. In A. Benati, C. Lavale, & M. Arche (Eds.), The grammar dimension in instructed second language acquisition (pp. 15-35). London: Bloomsbury Publishing.
  • VanPatten, B., Trego, D., & Hopkins, W.P. (2015). In-Class vs. Online Testing in University-Level Language Courses: A Research Report. Foreign Language Annals, 48(4), 659-668.
  • VanPatten, B., Trego, D., & Hopkins, W.P. (2015). Can-Do Statements for a Basic Language ProgramCLEAR Newsletter, 19(2), 1-5.
  • A Primer on Discourse Scrambles.
  • A Sample set of Can-Do Statements for Beginning Spanish at MSU.
  • A sample set of tasks. These tasks are discussed in Episode 42: Tasks that promote language acquisition.


Our hosts and callers mention many helpful resources during each episode, and we do our best to keep this list updated, but if something is missing let us know and we'll add it!


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