How it works: an introduction to language development(for ESL students)


Developing language ability is a natural process. If we understand how this process works, we can cooperate (work together) with the process to improve our English more effectively (successfully) and efficiently (without wasting time, energy, or money). The purpose of How it works: an introduction to language development is to help English students understand the process of language development.

There are different ideas about how we develop language ability. The ideas in this short course are based on years of scientific research. Teachers who teach from these ideas have been very successful. And so have students who have used them for their personal English development. I hope you learn from them and enjoy the same success!

Warren Ediger
Successful English Web Site:

What to do

The plan for this course is simple. Read the articles and listen to the audio files (later) below, then answer the questions. Come back from time to time to see how other people answered the questions, to read my comments, and to read or listen to new material.

NOTE: the first time you answer a question, you may need to "set up an account" -- give your e-mail address and name -- but that should be all you have to do.


1. How it works: acquiring English

HowStuffWorks is a very intereting web site. On HowStuffWorks, you can learn how car engines, acupunture, cell phones, and many other things work in a way that's interesting and easy to understand.

In science, a hypothesis is an explanation about how something works. A good hypothesis can be tested to see if it is true. The five articles below describe five hypotheses (explanations) about how we come to know English or any other language. And there is a lot of scientific evidence that tells us they are true.

These five hypotheses were first described by Dr. Stephen Krashen from the University of Southern California. Dr. Krashen taught at USC for many years and is now professor emeritus (a title of honor given to a retired professor). He is a linguist (language scientist) and educational researcher.

There are five articles in this series:

2. What happens when we read and listen?

When we read and listen to easy-to-understand English, our minds acquire (pick up or absorb) more English. What happens when we read and listen? is a short, imaginary trip inside the English student's brain to try to understand what happens there.

3. Secrets to Learning English

In this 25-minute presentation, Dr. Jeff McQuillan from the ESL Podcast clearly explains how we acquire (pick up or absorb) new English.