Global Trends in Language Learning in the 21st Century

If you liked the post I did a while back called Trends in Language Learning: What’s hot, what’s not , you’ll like this even better. At the urging of a few trusted colleagues and readers, I conducted more in-depth research into current and emerging trends in language education. The result is this full-fledged report, with three-pages of references.

Here’s an overview:

Global Trends in Language Learning the Twenty-First Century
Author: Eaton, Sarah Elaine
Date: June 2010
ISBN: 978-0-9733594-6-6
Publication Type: monograph
Total number of pages: 21


Today’s language classroom is vastly different from that of the mid- to late 20th century. The study is a meta-analysis of recent research which provided the means to identify current and emerging trends in the field. Informed by this research, some identified trends that are shaping the 21st century language classroom are:

What’s out:
1. Vague, hollow promises that can’t be proven.
2. Saying that learning languages is easy.
3. Authoritative teacher attitudes.
4. Complaining about cutbacks and lack of funding.
5. Language labs.

What’s in:
1. Clear, provable demonstrations of learning.
2. Frameworks, benchmarks and other asset-based approaches to assessment.
3. Individualized, customizable, learner-centred approaches.
4. Proving the value of language learning through stories and speech.
5. Using technology for language learning.
6. Linking language learning to leadership skills.
7. Showing funders the impact their investment has on students and communities.

In short, the focus in language education in the twenty-first century is no longer on grammar, memorization and learning from rote, but rather using language and cultural knowledge as a means to communicate and connect to others around the globe. Geographical and physical boundaries are being transcended by technology as students learn to reach out to the world around them, using their language and cultural skills to facilitate the connections they are eager to make.

The full report is available free of charge. It has been archived by:

Education Resources Information Center (ERIC) (Accession number ED510276)

European Association of Education for Adults (EAEA)

Library and Archives Canada’s Electronic Collection

I will also be hosting a free webinar on this new research on July 27 at 10:00 Mountain time. For more information on the webinar click here.

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Update – January 2018 – This blog has had over 1.8 million views thanks to readers like you. If you enjoyed this post, please “like” it or share it on social media. Thanks!

Sarah Elaine Eaton is a faculty member in the Werklund School of Education, University of Calgary, Canada.

6 Responses to Global Trends in Language Learning in the 21st Century

  1. Dyah says:

    Thank you for sharing the report Dr. Eaton. I’m going to use this as a pre-reading material for my upcoming teacher PD sessions.

  2. Dr. jan diplacido says:

    I believe even technology will not suffice to learn a language but is a great help. Interdisciplinary teaching and learning is the way to go

  3. […] debates: Ideas for teachers Two of the trends in language learning I found while researching Global Trends in Language Learning in the 21st Century were using technology for language learning and an increased focus on demonstrating language […]

  4. […] The article touches on 2 of the themes that emerged in my study Global Trends in Language Learning in the 21st Century: […]

  5. This research was highlighted up by the European Commission on Multilingualism

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