Memorization in Language Learning


The last line of Chris’ first Resource Review has been echoing in my brain for awhile.

Language learning for instance, while maximized for efficiency, and much more effective with new software programs, is still almost all just about simple plain old memorizing..

While I agree that technology is only part of a language teachers’ toolkit, I don’t think that learning language is “almost all just about simple plain old memorizing”.  Memorization plays an essential role acquiring language skills,but it seems to me that motivation, practice, and application ultimately play a larger role in determining whether that language learner will ever be able to actually use their L2.  I’ve had classrooms of students in Asia who spent their secondary years memorizing vocabulary and grammar rules, but looked like deer in the headlights when asked ‘How are you?”.

What seemed to make a real difference in their learning was having a reason and desire to communicate – perhaps talking to a native English speaker or publishing a something online that they knew the world would see. I think the social networking and user generated content aspects of  technology (sites like can definitely help on that front.  I also think technology can assist with the aspects of language learning that are dependent on memorization. Online resources like and English Cafe’s simple matching games can make memorization tasks a bit less tedious

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