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The LLL SIG Newsletter

Volume 5, Issue 2 [August, 2009]

Distributed Input for Adults: Twitter.com and BLIP.fm for Busy Learners
Gordon Luster

A good case can be made that vast amounts of reading and listening are necessary for successful language learning. Graded readers, websites, podcasts and the like are making it easier every day for teachers to direct students to appropriate content that they can understand and learn from.
(e.g., http://www.robwaring.org/er/what_and_why/er_is_vital.htm)

However, busy working adults may not have much flexibility to set aside big chunks of time for language learning. Most of the reading and listening materials that are available to them now are fairly lengthy, ranging from several hundred up to many thousands of words. This makes it hard for some adults to use the scattered bits of idle time that they have (on the train, after lunch) for language acquisition.

So, it might be helpful to cut some of their input down to very short, quickly digestible pieces that they can access throughout the day. A possible format is provided by Twitter, the "microblogging" service that allows users to receive "tweets" of up to 140 characters in their cellphones or computers, to be read at odd moments throughout the day.

Dottie Dotlish (https://twitter.com/DottieDotlish) is a fictional character from an eccentric English-speaking country called Dotland. Like most Twitter users, Dottie tweets about her daily life a few times a day. She also dispenses occasional bits of advice and encouragement for language learners and always tries to use simple English. Her tweets are accessible to Facebook users as well:

Words are easier to remember when set to music, and a particular interest of Dottie's is old pop music, especially jazz standards and cowboy songs from the 1930s to 1950s that might be popular among older learners. She plays some of these old songs at http://blip.fm/DottieDotlish and adds a few more songs every week, including a link to each song's lyrics and sometimes a second link to an article about the history of the song.

Dottie is planning to start a blog and hopes to introduce a series of short web-based stories and articles with sound, up to a few hundred words each. She would appreciate your comments and suggestions about how she is doing so far and where she should go from here. To contact her, just email her friend Gordon Luster ("gordonluste"") through the LLLSIG's Yahoo group: