The criteria for evaluating the worth of any language learning software must include some assessment of its fitness for purpose. That is to say, does it facilitate learning? But how do you measure this? Short of empirically testing the software on a representative cross-section of learners, we need a rubric according to which the learning power of the item can be estimated. And this rubric should, ideally, be informed by our current understandings of how second languages are best learned, understandings which are in turn derived from the findings of researchers of second language acquisition (SLA).
The first of a two-part series, by Scott Thornbury
Learning linguistic items is not a linear process – learners do not master one item and then move on to another. In fact, the learning curve for a single item is not linear either. The curve is filled with peaks and valleys, progress and backslidings.