Some Relevant Publishing Opportunities

Introduction

These postings originally appeared on the University of Pennsylvania website for CFPs.


Indiana English : Journal Submissions
deadline for submissions: 
December 31, 2022
 
full name / name of organization: 
Indiana English (supported by the Indiana College English Association)
 
contact email: 
 

 Indiana English is a competitive, peer-reviewed academic journal where faculty-scholars and graduate students alike can publish literary criticism, creative works, pedagogical scholarship, or other work in their fields. The journal is published online, and is open access. Indiana English encourages submissions on the role of English studies in the Midwest but will consider submissions on any topic related to English literature and criticism, linguistics, or pedagogy. We also publish original creative work (fiction, poetry, literary non-fiction, and photography).

Submission Instructions:
+ Scholarly articles should be between 4,000-10,000 words, include an abstract of 300 words, and follow MLA style formatting.
+ Book Reviews should not exceed 1500 words; we recommend inquiring about a book’s appropriateness for review before sending a full review.
+ Poetry should be no more than 3 poems, up to 5 pages. Please submit all your poems in one document. Please indicate if poems are meant to be considered together, or may be considered individually.
+ Short Stories and Creative Nonfiction should be between 2500-5000 words.

https://call-for-papers.sas.upenn.edu/cfp/2022/01/03/indiana-english-journal-submissions


Meridian Literary Journal
deadline for submissions: 
June 5, 2022
 
full name / name of organization: 
Multimeans Media International, Research Unit
 
contact email: 
 

Meridian Literary Journal is currently accepting new submissions. The journal publishes poems, short stories and scholarly articles.

Meridian Literary Journal aims to be a truly literary platform fulfilling the primary aim of Literature to entertain through the publication of original poetry and short fictions.  It seeks also to support scholars share their research with the global academic community by publishing research and review articles on any area of Literary Studies. 

The journal welcomes all kinds of poems, short stories and research articles on any topic especially, works that challenge the imagination, thrill, comfort, elicit real emotional connection and stimulate. We are interested in short fictions that offer an insight into the human condition. Submission is currently open.

https://call-for-papers.sas.upenn.edu/cfp/2022/01/05/meridian-literary-journal


Fantasy Literature: A Companion
deadline for submissions: 
June 1, 2022
 
full name / name of organization: 
Editor Dr. Charul (“Chuckie”) Palmer-Patel
 
contact email: 
 

While fantasy fiction has become incredibly popular and prolific in these last few decades, the appeal of fantastical literature dates back to antiquity, as mythologies, legends, and encounters with the supernatural have formed a large part of narrative traditions in every culture and language. This companion seeks to update and address underexamined areas of fantasy fiction, with the chief aim to provide a global introduction to English-language and English-translation fantasy fiction. This collection will focus on the contemporary written word (narrative prose) produced in late 20th and early 21st century. However, given the range and scope of fantasy (poetry, paintings, sculptures, plays, ballets, operas, films, television shows, graphic novels, animation, video games, tabletop games, etc), the editor will consider proposals which incorporate other mediums as comparisons, adaptations, or lineages, so long as the focus on the written word is apparent.

https://call-for-papers.sas.upenn.edu/cfp/2022/01/03/fantasy-literature-a-companion


Ecopedagogies and Hispanic Studies: Knowledge and Skills for the Anthropocene
deadline for submissions: 
January 28, 2022
 
full name / name of organization: 
Revista de ALCES XXI. Journal of Contemporary Spanish Literature and Film
 

 

While traditional pedagogies have contributed to what Rob Nixon has called the two defining crises of the 21st century: catastrophic climate change and widening global disparity, the emergence of critical pedagogies and environmental humanities has brought new ways for curricular innovation. 

Conventional pedagogies–aimed at producing competitive entrepreneurs, highly trained specialists and consumers and predicated upon the “learned ignorance” (Prádanos) of ecological limits to growth–are severely limited in providing students with the skills needed to confront today’s unprecedented social and ecological challenges. Proponents of ecopedagogy call for greater awareness of complex networks of human, nonhuman and more-than-human connection, the “unlearning” of basic assumptions of growth-oriented society (Prádanos), collective and collaborative thinking, inquiry that transcends disciplinary boundaries and an embodied attentiveness to the places and communities we inhabit.

https://call-for-papers.sas.upenn.edu/cfp/2022/01/02/ecopedagogies-and-hispanic-studies-knowledge-and-skills-for-the-anthropocene


CFP: Routledge Companion to Cultural Texts and the Nation
deadline for submissions: 
January 31, 2022
 
full name / name of organization: 
Sheera Talpaz / Oberlin College
 
contact email: 
 

We invite prospective contributions for the forthcoming Routledge Companion to Cultural Texts and the Nation, an exciting new addition to the growing, dynamic book series

Despite robust discourse on globalization and a perhaps momentary preoccupation with post-nationalism toward the end of the 20th century, nation and nationalism continue their tenacious hold on our imaginations—a hold that, given the state of global politics, surely deserves further and renewed explanation, unpacking, and critique. 

This project thus seeks to trace historical discussions on nation and nationhood, recovering canonical debates and critiques from the 18th-20th c. that establish the significance of the category and its interplay with cultural production. It will then turn to the nation’s continued significance and future possibilities—as figuration and reality; as source of empowerment and exclusion; as object critique and as utopian horizon, etc.—within relevant subject areas and fields. These include but are not limited to the following:

-World literature

-Poetry and poetics

-Visual and performing arts

-Archives and material culture

-Media studies

-LGBTQ+ and gender studies

-Digital humanities

-Ecopoetics and ecocriticism

-Translation studies

-Postcolonialism

-Trauma and memory studies

-Affect theory

-Disability studies

https://call-for-papers.sas.upenn.edu/cfp/2021/12/18/cfp-routledge-companion-to-cultural-texts-and-the-nation


Special Issue “World Mythology and Ecocriticism: Remembering Nature as a Sacred Teacher”
deadline for submissions: 
June 30, 2022
 
full name / name of organization: 
Rachel McCoppin – Humanities Journal
 
contact email: 
 

Special Issue “World Mythology and Ecocriticism: Remembering Nature as a Sacred Teacher”

A special issue of Humanities.

This Special Issue focuses specifically on the role that nature plays within world mythology. The environment undoubtedly played a crucial role in developing the mythological narratives of many cultures throughout the globe. Many cultures regarded nature as sacred, envisioning aspects of the environment, being directly related to divine beings, sacred forces, teachers, etc. Often, cultures imagined that the representatives of nature needed to be appeased in order to gain harmony with their environments. Many cultures also used their mythology to connect nature to the lives of human beings—connecting the cycle of the seasons to the life cycle of humans for instance. Identifying humans as inextricably connected with the natural world allowed a myriad of cultures to find meaning in their own lives, as nature in myth was often portrayed as a teacher, guide, source of inspiration, etc., for the characters within the myth, as well as the audiences of the myth. As civilizations grew and developed, often the mythological references to the importance of nature as something sacred diminished, but some mythic texts still imparted messages that strove to maintain reverence for the environment. Given the contemporary environmental crisis, it is important to look back on the texts that were once sacred to a people, in order to remember the great value of finding our own reverence in the natural world.

This Special Issue is particularly interested in receiving articles that discuss global mythological texts from an ecocritical lens. Articles that examine myths that connect natural occurrences to the lives of humans—looking at age from the standpoint of seasonal change, accepting death as a natural occurrence, etc., are especially desirable. Additionally, texts that present nature as a divine being, sacred embodiment, source of inspiration, source of contention, etc., are welcomed. Articles that focus on global creation myths, myths that present nature as divine, myths of humans contending with nature, either through marriage to a natural element, battling with a natural representative, or even becoming a natural element, are all highly desirable. Additionally, myths that mark a time of transition of values in the portrayal of the environment, such as the progression from hunter/gatherer methods to agricultural methods, or the destruction of the environment as technology advanced, are desired. Finally, myths that focus upon the heroic journey, casting the protagonist as a personification of nature, or showing the protagonist as failing or succeeding upon his or her quest because of nature, are especially sought after. This Special Issue is interested in mythic texts from around the world, from any era.

https://call-for-papers.sas.upenn.edu/cfp/2021/12/17/special-issue-%E2%80%9Cworld-mythology-and-ecocriticism-remembering-nature-as-a-sacred


Call for Proposals: Edited Collection on Using Instructor Feedback to Promote Equity and Linguistic Justice in the Writing Classroom
deadline for submissions: 
January 15, 2022
 
full name / name of organization: 
Kelly Blewett / Indiana University East and Justine Post / Ohio Northern University
 
 

Reconceptualizing Response: Using Instructor Feedback to Promote Equity and Linguistic Justice in the Writing Classroom

500-word proposals with 50-word bios due January 15, 2022

We are nearly 50 years out from the publication of Students’ Rights to Their Own Language, a polemic that provided a compass for our field, one that has been consistently debated and arguably, even more depressingly, ignored (see Perryman-Clark, Kirkland, and Jackson; we are also thinking of Vershawn Young’s 2021 CCCC keynote address which argued that our field’s lack of attention to the SRTOL is a moral failure). At this key moment in our field’s advancement, we rightfully question how education can be more equitable, how the hidden and corrosive politics of language can be exposed and reconsidered in the writing classroom, and how we, as teachers of writing, can engage students in conversations about their work that will lead to engagement, reflection, and growth. This is a moment for all of us to think about how our practices align with or fail to address linguistic justice. 

In this context, we invite contributors to reconsider the bedrock literature regarding response to student writing–research which flourished in the ‘80s and ‘90s and generated many of the commenting practices that instructors use today. From minimal marking to audio feedback, scholars like Chris Anson, Richard Haswell, Lil Brannon and C. H. Knoblauch, Nancy Sommers, Richard Straub and Ronald Lunsford, and Russell Sprinkle investigated response in a series of studies and essays that firmly embraced students’ right to maintain control over their purposesfor writing but overlooked the impact students’ identities have on their sense of ownership and authority when writing. Though this research was criticized almost as soon as it appeared for its acontextuality and seeming incongruity–mismatched findings regarding students’ preferences for critical feedback, disagreement regarding whether questions were dialogic or passive-aggressive, and more–the best practices that emerged from these studies have barely changed in the intervening decades. 

https://call-for-papers.sas.upenn.edu/cfp/2021/09/27/call-for-proposals-edited-collection-on-using-instructor-feedback-to-promote-equity


 

English Conversation Hour is Back!

Conversation Hour is hosted by the Naugle Communication Center (“CommLab”) and World Englishes committee members with the aim of providing a friendly, informal space for English Language Learner students to practice their oral English skills and to meet other students. On Thursday 9/30, students and CommLab consultants gathered online for the first event of the Fall 2021 semester.

Participants discussed their experiences of the semester so far; their weekend plans; and recent movie and TV show recommendations. The highlight of the event, however, was a drawing activity. Inspired by their own experiences of using art as a de-stressing tool, CommLab consultants invited participants to spend five minutes drawing a representation of either their favorite place, or a place they’d like to go to. Then, everyone shared their drawings and explained why that place was appealing to them—their past experiences with the place, if any, and what you can do and see there. Locations included the Smoky Mountains; Key West; the beach; Yellowstone National Park; the Vickery Creek Falls hiking trail in Roswell; and Athens, Greece. A common theme for us all was enjoying nature and appreciating the beauty of the world, as well as appreciating time with friends and family while traveling. Perhaps none of us are the next Van Gogh, but we enjoyed seeing everyone’s drawings and hearing about places that are special to them. 

To join our Conversation Hour info list and receive announcements about future events, you can fill out this short registration form. October Conversation Hour (date TBD) will be in person in the Naugle Communication Center (Clough 447). We are also planning to host an in-person Conversation Hour on Monday, 11/15, from 5:00pm-6:00pm as part of International Education Week. We hope you’ll join us! 

In addition to English Conversation Hour, the CommLab can help Georgia Tech students who identify as English Language Learners in a variety of ways. To book a free one-on-one consultation, click here. The CommLab is offering a variety of appointment modes this semester, including in person, BlueJeans, and asynchronous appointments, and is open Monday-Friday 9:00am-5:00pm in person, with additional online-only times from 5:00pm-8:00pm. See below for more information!

 

Announcement: Free Poetry Workshop with Chen Chen (Sponsored by Poetry@Tech)

We are reposting this announcement we just received from Travis Denton, the Associate Director of Poetry@Tech and editor of Terminus Magazine, regarding a poetry workshop being offered by award-winning poet Chen Chen. It sounds like an amazing opportunity, and it just so happens to be free and open to the public.


Hi Everyone—

Registration is now open for a FREE virtual generative poetry workshop with CHEN CHEN on Saturday, October 2, 2021 from 2-5pm from Poetry@Tech. We’re excited to offer this unique opportunity to spend an afternoon writing with CHEN CHEN. Thanks to the generous support of the Poetry Foundation for making this event possible.

Here’s more about the workshop:

REPETITION, VARIATION, MIGRATION:

In this generative workshop we’ll discuss how contemporary immigrant and refugee poets use various kinds of repetition and variation to articulate their lived experiences. Between talking about model poems by Tarfia Faizullah, Li-Young Lee, Aracelis Girmay, and others, we’ll try to use repetition and variation in our own ways. We’ll play and fail and try again. We’ll leap.

For more information about the workshop or to register via our quick online registration form, click on

https://poetry.gatech.edu/events/fall-2021-workshop-chen-chen.

The workshop is free, and open to the public. Register soon, as space may be limited. If you have any questions or just want to be in touch, I’d love to hear from you. See you in workshop on October 2.

Only Good Things Always,

Travis Denton

Poetry@Tech

Editor, Terminus Magazine


 

Submit to RAMBLE Magazine!

You might not think of yourself as a creative person, but we are all creative in different ways. Here at RAMBLE we offer a chance for our creative Georgia Tech students from around the globe to submit and publish their poems, their memoirs, their photos, and all sorts of other creative artifacts. If you meet our eligibility criteria for submitting (see below), then this might be the publishing opportunity that you have been waiting for!

A submissions post with a pink background and black border with a silhouette of a black city skyline.

RAMBLE seeks to publish original, unpublished creative work (poetry, fiction, creative nonfiction, and much more) produced by multilingual and international undergraduate and graduate students at Georgia Tech who meet one or more of the following eligibility criteria:

    • you are learning English as a second or other language
    • your first language is a postcolonial variety of English (as an example, if you come from Singapore and spoke a variety of Singapore-English growing up)
    • you come from a bilingual/multilingual home situation

If you believe you meet our criteria for eligibility, but are not certain, just email us and we can let you know. If you would like to submit to RAMBLE, please feel free to submit work for review by sending it to Kendra Slayton at GTworldenglishescommittee@gmail.com.

Before submitting, please read our Submissions and FAQ pages for more information on what we are looking to publish. We also invite you to read an issue of the magazine so you can get a sense of the kinds of pieces we publish. We are not a paying market, but we are always excited to review and potentially publish new and interesting work by our students.

What I Did with My Summer Vacation, and Why I’m Not Embarrassed

It’s a new semester, and the World Englishes Committee is back in full swing. We are excited to get back to our usual business with projects and events and more!

A shot from Luis Buñuel’s 1930 French film L’Age d’Or (“The Golden Age“).

To kick off this academic year, I wanted to share one of the ways I spent my summer. Since I was not blogging for this site, I must have been doing something else that was productive, right? Well, for some people, watching a lot of international films may not exactly be perceived as productive, but for me, stuck at home much of the time, folding a lot of laundry during the evening and so on, it made my summer pass in ways that were enlightening and satisfying in ways that writing articles (I did that too, all right?) is not. Over and over, I was finding cinematic treasures that presented beautiful cinematography and compelling story-telling that made me laugh, cry, and wonder and ultimately left me in awe and admiration. [Note: By the way, one of the goals I made at the beginning of summer was to not watch a single movie in English, and I did pretty well as the only English-speaking films I ended up watching were The French Connection (1971) and Sharknado (2013).]

So, here is what I am going to do: I am going to share an alphabetical list of international films I have watched since the Spring 2021 Semester ended. I will link to reviews and articles about each one, but I won’t offer any commentary of my own since the list is quite long. Not every film left the same enduring impression on me, but taken overall the experience of spending my summer watching these films was memorable and valuable. I feel that I was indeed very productive.

To cap this post off, I would like to add that BBC Culture conducted a project in which they asked 209 critics from 43 countries about what they considered the greatest examples of international cinema. As a result, BBC Culture eventually generated a top-100 list, which I am using and will continue to use to guide my own forays into international film-watching. I would encourage you to do the same. Enjoy!

~Jeff Howard


Work Cited

“L’Age d’Or.” IMDb, n.d. https://www.imdb.com/title/tt1187043/. Image.

Looking Backward: The 2020-21 Academic Year

For the World Englishes Committee, this academic year has been a strange one, as it has been for pretty much everyone we know. Yet, in spite of the circumstances of a time in which it is easy to feel like we are hunkering down and waiting for a storm to pass, our committee has continued to be as active as ever in its mission of serving and advocating for the interests of multilingual and international students and supporting their instructors. As a result of the work accomplished by our committee chair, Kendra Slayton, as well as committee members Alok Amatya, Anu Thapa, Eric Lewis, and me (Jeff Howard), the World Englishes Committee has managed to advance multiple projects, both online and on the Georgia Tech campus. The following is a summary of what we have accomplished this year:

a) The World Englishes Committee has helped to organize and sponsor six virtual Conversation Hour events in partnership with the Naugle CommLab and the Georgia Tech International Ambassador program (GTIA). Intended for students who want to practice their conversational English in a friendly and supportive environment, these events were attended by numerous undergraduate and graduate students currently enrolled at Georgia Tech.

b) Members of the committee have also published interviews with scholars and specialists whose research and teaching relate closely to what this site is all about. These interviews include Dr. Robert Griffin (interviewed by Kendra Slayton) and Dr. Ahmar Mahboob (interviewed by me). 

c) Multiple members of our committee–Alok Amatya, Kendra Slayton, and me–helped compose the Writing and Communication Program’s application for the 2020 Georgia Tech Unit Diversity Champion Award, which the program received in Fall 2020.

d) In the Spring 2021 Semester, the committee began a recurring segment on our blog called World Cinema Spotlights. This segment was inspired by film scholar Anu Thapa, and we have published spotlights of the Bollywood film 3 Idiots (written by Alok Amatya and me) and the animated Japanese film The Tale of Princess Kaguya (written by Eric Lewis and Kendra Slayton). We plan to continue publishing such spotlights for the foreseeable future.

e) Finally, our capstone of the year was the publication of the second issue of RAMBLE, our committee’s literary magazine. In this year’s issue, we were honored to publish multimodal creative work composed by a number of multilingual and international graduate and undergraduate Georgia Tech students. The magazine was even more robust than last year’s issue, and we are excited to witness and facilitate this growth. RAMBLE, issue 1, was also featured in the Academic Program Review self-study of Georgia Tech’s School of Literature, Media, and Communication as evidence of the quality of work our students are doing, while also demonstrating one of the multiple ways in which our school is seeking to support the work of diversity on our campus.

After what has been an extraordinarily productive and unique academic year, I must announce that our committee will be taking a break from the blog for the summer, but we will return in September, probably with some new faces and of course new ideas. We would also like you to know (if you don’t already) that our committee has begun developing our social media presence, so please feel free to follow us on Twitter. Our handle is @GTworldengs. Thank you for reading and have a great summer!

RAMBLE Issue 2 Now Live!

We are excited to announce that Issue 2 of RAMBLE is now live! This issue features poetry, prose, and photographs by Georgia Tech students of diverse cultural and academic backgrounds. Our authors write of the infiniteness of nature and of human smallness; of the comforts of mother tongues and grandmothers’ food; of the beauty of multilingualism but also of the at-times fraught relationship between language and identity, and of systemic issues of language and power. We hope that you enjoy their work as much as we do. If you’d like to learn more about RAMBLE, you can read about us here and check out Issue 1 as well.

“Polygluttony” at Duolingo’s Language Buffet

Introduction

When my mother-in-law comes to visit, once a day she pulls her phone out and says something like, “Time for Spanish!” Using the Duolingo app, she has been learning and practicing Spanish for some time. She has even built up a couple of impressive consecutive-days streaks numbering in the hundreds (meaning consecutive days meeting her specific daily language goals on Duolingo). When I acquired a smartphone, I too downloaded the Duolingo app because I wanted to begin studying German again. I received a minor in German in 2010 when I graduated with my B.A., but it has been a long while since I studied the language in a structured way.

I wanted to test out my first impression of Duolingo (the one I formed unfairly, of course before ever trying it out) as a language learning buffet by taking lessons in each of the languages it offers. This article is a reflection on my perceptions of the Duolingo app and my user-experience, as well as an evaluation of Duolingo’s functionality as a tool for language learning. Each day for just over a month I downloaded a different course and tried it out, journaling my impressions along the way. With some, I already had a level of proficiency, so I took the diagnostic test to see where Duolingo thought I was. With others, I knew absolutely nothing, so I started from square zero, also known as the “New to __________?” button. I am not seeking fluency in any of these languages because frankly I see that as an impossible goal to achieve in Duolingo anyway, even if I were to focus solely on a single course. It was more of a fun way to experience what it is like to be “Hgf” (username) on my Duolingo leader board, who has downloaded the Italian, Russian, Portuguese, Chinese, Spanish, and French courses. I am simply doing what that learner has done and taking it to an extreme.

Note: The slides embedded throughout this article are an account of my experiment taking lessons in a different language every day for just over a month. If you just read the journal, the slides will auto-advance. If you finish reading a slide before it advances, use the controls in the taskbar at the bottom of the frame to skip ahead.

Background

Using Duolingo, language learners, like my mother-in-law, can select any of a range of “standard,” endangered, or even constructed languages to study:

Spanish

French

German

Italian

English

Japanese

Chinese

Russian

Korean

Portuguese

Dutch

Swedish

Norwegian

Turkish

Polish

Irish

Greek

Hebrew

Danish

Hindi

Czech

Esperanto

Ukrainian

Welsh

Vietnamese

Hungarian

Swahili

Romanian

Indonesian

Hawaiian

Navajo

Klingon

High Valyrian

According to its website, Duolingo collects data from language learners to discover how they learn language best. The Duolingo team claims, “With more than 300 million learners, Duolingo has the world’s largest collection of language-learning data at its fingertips. This allows us to build unique systems and uncover new insights about the nature of language and learning” (“Research”). Duolingo makes multiple publications about their approach to second-language learning on their website, as well as a favorable study conducted by researchers from the University of South Carolina and the City University of New York.

Every large-scale language-learning program requires a theoretical framework. The Duolingo system reflects at least in part the ideas of Stephen Krashen, whose input hypothesis, despite having received some criticism, has influenced many language learning programs in the U.S. today. To scaffold language-learning, Duolingo provides linguistic input in “the Four Skills”: reading, writing, speaking, and listening. Comprehensible input is language input around the learner’s proficiency level but involves what Krashen calls “i + 1” (Ellis 47). The phrase i + 1 refers to input that introduces new linguistic principles that students are primed to receive. I like to think of i + 1 in terms of Goldilocks and the Three Bears.

  • “This porridge is too hot!” = i + 2-∞, meaning input that is so far beyond the learner’s proficiency level that it is essentially incomprehensible.
  • “This porridge is too cold!” = i (or i + 0, if you prefer), meaning input consisting only of what a learner already knows. These principles might be good to practice, but they also might become boring, and without the introduction of new material might lead to stagnation.
  • “This porridge is just right!” = i + 1, meaning comprehensible input or input that merges new content with enough known content that students can progress in the target language. Comprehensible input in the right kind of environment leads to language acquisition and the production of comprehensible output (output in the target language that makes sense to others) (Krashen 409).

The app approximates a learner’s proficiency level or i at the beginning of each course by providing a diagnostic test. If the learner already has some proficiency of which they are aware, they can click the button marked “Already Know Some __________? Try this Placement Test.” If not, the learner can click the “New to __________?” button and begin learning some basic vocabulary with the help of cues such as capital letters or even images. Those basic terms become keys to help students decipher input in the target language.

Trying the App

In my first lesson in Welsh, of which I previously knew nothing, I was presented with Bore da as my first sample of Welsh. I also received a number of multiple-choice answers to select from. Two of the possible answers were names: “Megan” and “Morgan”; two of them were capitalized: “Good” and “Goodbye”; and two of them were not capitalized: “good” and “morning.” Logically, I eliminate “Megan” and “Morgan” right off the bat (nothing personal), mainly because of their lack of lexical usefulness. Why would I need to know their names in Welsh? The target phrase was capitalized, so I kept “Good” and “Goodbye” and discarded “good” because the capital letter makes “Good” seems more likely than “good.” Bore da is also two words, so I decide on a two-word answer in English: “Good morning.” Choosing a two-word translation in the L1 for a two-word phrase in the target language is one instance of linguistic transfer, a common strategy employed by language learners to fill in gaps in their communicative competence. In this case, I have chosen correctly, even though I still do not know which Welsh word is “Good” and which is “morning.” Also, for all I knew, “Goodbye” in Welsh is also two words.

The lesson later asks me the meaning of da and provides multiple choices that include “good,” but not “morning.” I know that had I not received the capitalization cues in that first sample, I probably would have leaned on the syntax of my L1 and answered incorrectly because Bore da would be literally translated as “morning good” in English. Scaffolding cues like capitalization or images can matter greatly in helping beginning students puzzle out their first few steps into another language. Any program needs to know where a student’s proficiency level is before it can meet them where they are and guide them beyond it. In language learning, that is the true value of i.

Skepticism

As a brand-new Duolingo user, I had a hard time appreciating the app as a serious tool for language learning, despite its theoretical basis in SLA theory. I perceived it as more like a buffet for language learners in which we can choose one thing or choose some of all of our favorites. We can pile our plates with Polish and Chinese and Spanish and Hawaiian and High Valyrian, if they suit us. We aspiring polyglots (or maybe “polygluttons” is a more applicable term) can cram ourselves with little bits of a lot of different things, which is perfect if we are not interested in acquiring fluency but rather knowing more about individual languages and learning a few words and key phrases in each.

Language Journal

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Conclusions

As a result of my exploration of the app, my impression of Duolingo as a language buffet remains unchanged. However, I do appreciate what it is trying to do with the technological affordances it has available. The system is impressive in the way it turns language learning into a game using rewards, fake currency, leader boards to promote competition, and leagues. It promotes engagement and provides learners with structure. It gives plenty of input, fortifies grammatical and lexical knowledge, and provides plenty of opportunities to practice reading and writing, though not nearly as much as it could listening and speaking. Overall, Duolingo is certainly making good on its endeavor to make learning engaging (“Our mission is to make learning free and fun,” says the app).

The game aspect provides plenty of extrinsic motivation for learners who need an additional push to study. Learners might lean toward either extrinsic (I want to learn a language because it is cool!) or intrinsic (“I want to learn a language because it will do something for me or promises a reward!”), but most learners need both to learn a language. I want to learn languages because I am interested in languages, but there were days when I had far less of a desire to study. However, I did not want to fall into the “Demotion Zone” (which is the bottom five on my leader board) because then I would fall into a lower league. I am currently in the Sapphire League, thank you very much, and I am not going back to the Gold League. That leader board gave me the push I needed to study.

That being said, there are a number of people using the app who find the game aspect unsustainably fulfilling. After a while, the motivation derived from that part of the game can ebb away. Another aspect that Duolingo learners complain about is that some people are in it more for the game than the language, and so search for shortcuts to make more points or “XP,” as the game calls them. When the student’s focus turns away from language learning toward a secondary feature, the app becomes less successful at what it ought to be doing.

All things considered, I am not buying Duolingo’s other claim about its mission, namely, “To develop the best education in the world and make it universally available” (“Crown Levels: A Royal Redesign”). I believe they want this, and based on the number of people using the app, I would say that they are certainly reaching toward the “universal availability” objective. But it doesn’t offer the “best education” yet, and it likely never will unless we come up with a quantifiable standard to define what it means to be “best.” Like any other language program, Duolingo has limitations. No one should download and use the Duolingo app without first understanding that it is not THE WAY to learn a language because there is no such thing, as Dr. Brent Wolter pointed out in a 2019 interview (“TESOL”). That being said, Duolingo provides opportunities for prospective learners to increase their communicative competence in a target language within a low-stakes and gamified environment that can motivate learners who are motivated either intrinsically or extrinsically.

Using Duolingo as the sole source of one’s language learning will only set a learner up for disappointment if they think they can use it to achieve native-like proficiency in the “Four Skills.” Duolingo is probably best used as a language learning supplement that activates your brain during your early commute on the train as you puzzle out the difference between the Turkish words adam and erkek or the Portuguese words copo and xicara. Prospective users of this app would be well served if they would keep, as I do, a dictionary and a good grammar book about the target language on hand, and find friends to consult and converse with in that language as well.

Note: As a final note to educators, I can say that trying out the Duolingo app could be a useful experience. If you want a quick way to learn a little bit about the languages your students speak without having to commit yourself to a full-blown language course, Duolingo might be the way to go. My Georgia Tech students come from many different countries and speak languages I do not know, including Chinese, Turkish, Tamil, etc. Having tried to learn a little bit of some of those languages and felt the frustration that comes from attempting to learn a language so dissimilar from my L1, I feel greater empathy for their endeavors to learn English. In fact, any opportunity teachers or tutors can get to know the first languages of those they teach a bit better, the better off those teachers will be. I believe language, linguistics, and ESL teachers would be well-served to find some language-learning program (if not Duolingo, then something else that might be affordable and effective, if not “free and fun”). They can try out some of the lessons and see if it influences their linguistic awareness, as well as their attitudes toward the English learners in their classes.

Addendum: Since this article, Duolingo has made a few updates, one of which is especially noteworthy. In the summer of 2019, Duolingo released an Arabic for English speakers course. I made a note of the absence of such a course in my journal entry on Swahili, finding it strange that such a significant language would not be represented in the app. Duolingo has also continued to develop other language courses, including Finnish, Scottish Gaelic, and Yiddish.

Works Cited

Duolingo. “Research.” Duolingo, n.d., https://ai.duolingo.com/. Accessed 25 Mar. 2019.

Ellis, Rod. Second Language Acquisition. Oxford University Press, 1997.

Krashen, Stephen. “The Input Hypothesis: An Update.” Georgetown University Round Table on Languages and Linguistics (GURT) 1991: Linguistics and Language Pedagogy: The State of the Art. Georgetown University Press, 1992. Google Books, https://books.google.com/books?id=GzgWsZDlVo0C&printsec=frontcover&source=gbs_ge_summary_r&cad=0#v=onepage&q&f=false. Accessed 27 Mar. 2019.

Rollinson, Joseph. “Crown Levels: A Royal Redesign.” Duolingo, 11 July 2018, https://making.duolingo.com/crown-levels-a-royal-redesign.

Wolter, Brent. “Dr. Brent Wolter on Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL).” World Englishes, Georgia Institute of Technology, 13 Mar. 2019, https://worldenglishes.lmc.gatech.edu/interview-dr-brent-wolter-on-tesol/. Accessed 27 April 2019.

This article appeared on our site in 2019 and is now being republished here as part of a website makeover. ~ Jeff Howard

“Infinite Jest and Sesquipadalia: Reading for (Scrabble) Vocabulary”

I recently finished reading David Foster Wallace’s book Infinite Jest (1996), and I am exhausted. It seemed that every page I read on average contained some word I could not define, even using context clues. Ryan Compton estimates that “Wallace used a vocabulary of 20,584 words to write Infinite Jest.” This vast vocabulary contains jargon, archaisms, neologisms, and all-around sesquipedalia—long, polysyllabic words—that almost no one uses in daily conversations. Visualizing situations in which you might need to use some of these words itself is a chore for the imagination, unless you too are planning to write a mind-melting maximalist novel or simply want to add more ammunition to your Scrabble arsenal. “That’s cachexia for 284 points, dude!”

All language learners face the challenge of developing their vocabulary to achieve fluency. It is one thing to know where certain types of words ought to go in a sentence (syntax), but it is another to find the exact words to plug into a sentence in a conversation or other form of communication. Learners often know what they want to say in another language, but they may not know the exact word to help them say it in the target language. A lack of vocabulary often leads to a reliance on circumlocution, or using words we do know to describe the thing or concept we do not know, either as a conversational strategy or a coping mechanism.

Reading is a great way to increase vocabulary. Reading alone is not going to make anyone fluent in all four skill areas (reading, writing, listening, and speaking), but it can provide a rich source of comprehensible input. (Much of Infinite Jest does not even begin to approach what Stephen Krashen would call “i + 12,” let alone “i + 1.”)  When learners encounter unknown words in books, articles, or other publications, they can use any number of strategies to bring that word into their personal lexicon.

      • Look up the word in a dictionary and read the definition out loud
      • Use the immediate context in the passage to make sense of the word
      • Write down the word in a notebook as part of a vocabulary list and drill yourself on the word and its meaning
      • Use the word in other sentences, either written or spoken, and in other situations or contexts

Even individuals who have spoken a language for many years encounter words they do not recognize from time to time. According to a BBC article, a typical “native speaker” only knows about 15,000–20,000 word families, but English contains many more word families or “lemmas” than that. No one can be a master of all domains of linguistic usage, so someone like me with an advanced degree in English will constantly run across new words through reading different types of material. That does not mean we should shoot to hang around the average. Knowing more words than we need to use in our daily personal and professional lives can enrich our worldviews and help us make connections and associations that lead us down new avenues of thought. In short, it makes us well-rounded, broader-minded people.

In this article, I had originally intended to provide my own new vocabulary list—which is something I used to do in my university German courses—based on my own reading of Infinite Jest. The list would consist of words like Kekuléan and presbyopic and espadrilles, as well as numerous drug-related terms. However, I am still compiling that list and may be at it for the foreseeable future. Numerous other people have already compiled their own online Infinite Jest word lists, though, so I am providing links to those resources. Feel free to use them to sate your curiosity, increase your own vocabulary, or at the very least–if you’re at all like me–pad your Scrabble scores.

“Over 200 Words Collected from Infinite Jest(Rob Hoffman)

Infinite Jest Vocabulary” (Ben Zimmer)

“What David Foster Wallace Circled in His Dictionary” (Slate)

“Words from Infinite Jest (Grant Barrett)

“Infinite Jest: David Foster Wallace”

Words David Foster Wallace Circled in His Dictionary That Were Used in Infinite Jest (And Where They Appear)” (DFW Words)

This post was previously published on our site in 2020 and is appearing here as part of website makeover. ~ Jeff Howard

Language, Communication, Microdocs: Great Big Story

While traipsing across the internet last week, I stumbled upon an addictive little YouTube channel called Great Big Story. Forgive me, I might be late to this party, but if you’ve never heard of it, up until five months ago, Great Big Story was, as their About page on YouTube puts it, “a global media company devoted to cinematic storytelling.”

The micro-documentaries produced by Great Big Story are informative, intriguing, and just plain brilliant, and the channel has such a range of topics that you are bound to find something you love. Some of my favorites include “Enter the Deadliest Garden in the World,” “Why Sweden Loves Food in Tubes,” and “Why the World’s Mathematicians Are Hoarding Chalk.” I am currently considering the possibility of having my composition students make micro-documentaries for my class in the fall; this channel would be a wonderful resource for readings and examples of the genre.

Because we are inherently interested in language, communication, and culture here on this site, I wanted to provide a list of potential episodes that are interesting and relevant to our mission, interests, and target audiences. Happy watching!

Recommendations

“This Man Speaks 32 Languages”

“Saving the World’s Oldest Languages”

“Saving Languages from Extinction”

“This Turkish Language Isn’t Spoken, It’s Whistled”

“Everyone in This Village Can Speak Sign Language”

“How the Language From the Sims Was Created”

“Saving an Ancient Language Through Pop Music”

“The Chocolate Croissant Controversy”

“Talking Fast With a Record-Setting Speed Talker”

“This Man Can Pronounce Every Word in the Dictionary”

“Play on Words: Meet Nigeria’s Scrabble King”

“The Surprising Science Behind the Word ‘Pokémon’”

“Meet the Epic Voice Behind Movie Trailers”

“This Dialect Coach Can Transport You With Her Perfect Accents”

“Giving Artists With Disabilities a Space to Thrive”

“The Artist Paints What She Hears”

“A Photographer’s Mission to Capture a New Image of Africa”

“The Largest Handwritten Family Tree in the World”

“A Travel Writer Shares His Tips”

“The World’s Most Magnificent Libraries”