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.



2 thoughts on “Pedagogy Pop-up: What works in technology-assisted language learning?

  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?

    1. 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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