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03 April 2023

Working with emergent language: a new practical book that could revolutionise language teaching and learning

King’s academics make the case for language teachers to work with emergent language in a new book.

Richard Chinn and Danny Norrington-Davies
Richard Chinn (right) and Danny Norrington-Davies (left)

Published in February 2023, Working with Emergent Language - Ideas and activities for developing your reactive skills in class raises awareness of emergent language (EL) and highlights its importance in learning a new language.

Working with EL refers to the teacher or learners focusing on any unplanned language item that arises naturally during communicative moments in class. This can be for language development as learners are presented with language at a point of need and help with the meaning of what they are trying to say.

Yet there was – until now – a gap in the literature on the practical ways that teachers in a language classroom can react to learning opportunities and work with unplanned language that emerges in communicative interactions in class.

In the book, authors Richard Chinn and Danny Norrington-Davies, both Teaching Associates at King’s College London, give advice to teachers on how to develop their classroom skills for working with unplanned language that arises in a language lesson.

Chinn said: “Much of the research in the past has focused on error correction of learners. The book moves beyond that and encourages teachers to investigate their own teaching practice when resounding to learners’ language needs.” 

We also drew on teachers’ experiences in class working with EL, making it more relatable for teachers new to the practice. By presenting a comprehensive framework for teachers to be supported in developing their reactive skills in class, we hope that this pedagogy will keep gaining traction and further help language students learn new languages.

Richard Chinn, Teaching Associate, School of Education, Communication & Society, King’s College London

The book is available for purchase on the publishers’ website.

Find out more about emergent language in the video below:

In this story

Richard Chinn

Teaching Associate

Danny Norrington-Davies

Visiting Lecturer in TESOL/Applied Linguistics