Pedagogy Pop-up: What works in technology-assisted language learning?

Last summer, inspired by the innovative format of a 10-minute plenary presentation that I gave at a conference in Spain earlier that year, I decided to hold a series of mini-events to share key insights from applied linguistics research with my colleagues (I work for an ELT publisher). I called these short presentations “Pedagogy Pop-ups”, and the principles were simple:

  • just 10 minutes long, easy to fit into a coffee break;
  • purpose is to show how research findings might apply to ELT practice;
  • no audience participation required;
  • no slides.

There were five pop-ups in the series, of which three were video recorded. The second one, about CALL (computer-assisted language learning), was a summarized version of an excellent longer presentation that I attended at Birkbeck University in London back in June 2016, entitled “What works in CALL: A meta-synthesis of the effects of technology in L2 teaching and learning” (that link will take you to a full video recording, including slides).

The presenter of the full presentation (Luke Plonsky) and his colleague (Nicole Ziegler) had conducted a study of 14 meta-analyses (i.e. studies of other studies), which in turn looked at the overall effects of 408 primary studies into tech-assisted second language learning. They also published their findings in an open-access journal article. I’d like to take this opportunity to thank Luke and Nicole for granting their permission for me to digest and share their research in my own way!

A recording of my pop-up presentation is now available to watch here (

The other Pedagogy Pop-ups in this series were:

Videos are available for the first two – just follow the links.

Note that the original audience for these events was largely composed of ELT publishers and editors, so I may make reference to materials and coursebooks, etc. – but everything I talk about is relevant to teachers and trainers, too.

Enjoy, please share, and feel free to comment below!

This post is part of my “ELT Research In Practice” series.



About Laura Patsko

Teacher trainer, language learner, language teacher, linguist, researcher. Not necessarily in that order.


  1. I’ve recently started using the Grammarly plugin on Google Chrome and it strikes me that is a kind of glossing but for grammar – do you know of research into the effectiveness of Grammarly or similar grammar apps?

    • Hi Andrew, I’m afraid I don’t know much about research into the effectiveness of Grammarly. They seem to use data on usage to work out what’s standard/right and give feedback accordingly, a bit like Write & Improve does: But other than this, I’m not very familiar with such tools.

      I think you’re right that Grammarly functions a bit like glossing (as mentioned in this meta-analysis). But Grammarly, like Microsoft Word’s grammar & spelling checker, isn’t aimed at L2 learners. So in that respect, I don’t know that it would be of much use to someone who (for example) is struggling with selecting an appropriate collocating adjective for a given noun, etc.

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