Welcome to The Essentials of Language Teaching, a resource website for instructors in foreign language and second/additional language teaching contexts. This website seeks to provide a concise and accessible introduction to the language teaching methods that are currently regarded as most effective within the U.S. language teaching community.

What’s on the site

  • Principles: General information on language teaching theory and method. We believe that the best language teachers connect what they do in the classroom with a coherent, evidence-based idea of how people learn languages. This material helps teachers make that connection. Sections:
  • Practice: Specific ways of applying theory in classroom teaching practice. In these sections we address common concerns of language teachers and connect the material in the Principles sections with the ways language instruction takes place in actual classrooms and textbooks. For each topic we provide information on teaching goals, methods, and strategies and guidance on developing learning activities, using textbook materials, and assessing learners’ progress. We also provide ideas for ways of using technology tools to promote and reinforce learning. Sections:
  • Resources: Links to online and print resources on language teaching, including open educational resources as well as resources available at a cost.

How to use the site

If you are a new or developing language teacher, we suggest that you start with What Is Language Teaching, which gives a general description of learner-centered instruction and reflective teaching practice. Use the other Principles sections to develop your understanding of language teaching methodology. Then use the Practice sections for guidance on specific language skill areas.

If you are a more experienced language teacher, use whichever sections will give you the refresher or update that you need.

About the site

The Essentials of Language Teaching was originally developed for the National Capital Language Resource Center (NCLRC) to introduce college and university instructors and teaching assistants to the language teaching methods that are typically used in U.S. higher education. The site was designed for teachers of languages that are designated as  “foreign” in the United States, but teachers in second-language contexts, particularly teachers of English as an additional language, also reported finding it useful.

The site was created over several years (2003-2008) by Catharine Keatley and Deborah Kennedy under a grant from the U.S. Department of Education, CFDA #84.015A. The content was based on the material in Modules for the Professional Preparation of Teaching Assistants in Foreign Languages (Grace Stovall Burkart, Ed.; Center for Applied Linguistics, 1998).

The site is now maintained by Deborah Kennedy, senior consultant at Key Words. The original content and organization have been retained where possible, and updated where necessary. Additions focus on recent teaching insights and practices, as well as technology tools that have been developed since the site was originally created.

Comments and questions about the site can be directed to Deborah through the Contact page.