Snap Language

Getting Smarter through Language

Passages for Language Learners

This is a list of passages written with language learners in mind. Most of them will be for English language learners (ELLs), but usually the same principles apply to learners of other languages.

These passages or articles are geared toward not only the language-learning experience but also socio-cultural aspects of language learning, linguistics, and other language-related topics.

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The articles appear below in descending chronological order.


Level of Formality in American Language and Culture

Read: Beginner Read: Intermediate

Just as in other languages, English has levels of formality. What is considered appropriate in on culture may be inappropriate in another. How do you know what level of formality to use in the United States? How can you avoid making social blunders? (Article available for beginners and Interm./advanced learners.)

Recent Articles

What is grammar (for a linguist)?

Read: Interm./Advanced

For most of us, the idea we have about what grammar is comes from what we learned in school about our own language. That is what is known as traditional grammar. However, to understand how language works, linguists need to study a different type of grammar, which is based on describing the language rather than setting the rules that people should use. In this article, Franco explains what grammar is for linguists.

Accents and Idiolects

Read: Int./Advanced

Franco explains what accents and idiolects and draws on his own experiences to discuss their sociolinguistic nature, including the possible negative impact on an individual caused by stereotyped perceptions of accents and idiolects.

5 Steps to Break through the Socio-Cultural Bubble

Read: Intermediate Read: Advanced

Marc Franco proposes five steps for English as a second language (ESL) learners to break through the “socio-cultural bubble” and, as a byproduct, improve their language skills in English. This is based on the concept that ESL learners living in the United States sometimes create a “socio-cultural bubble” in which they stay within their cultural and linguistic community, thus limiting socialization and exposure to English, which can slow down and even prevent language learning.

Learning English in the US (a case study)

Read: Intermediate Read: Advanced

The author, an experienced instructor of English as a second language (ESL), shares what he has learned about the experience of many ESL learners who are learning English while living in the United States. Although the focus is on ESL and the United States, the information likely applies to learning any language in a country where the language is spoken.