Sunday, August 24, 2014

Global job search by language skill

Search performed by keyword ("English", "ingles" etc.) as of 8/24/2014 on Indeed country-specific search engines. Figures slightly rounded. Added the generic search term "assistant" to gage the English-language job search.

United States

"assistant" 331000
Spanish 87300
French 8500
Portuguese 7060
Chinese 6100
Japanese 4800
German 4300
Mandarin 4000
Italian 3200
Korean 2100
Russian 1900
Arabic 1600


"assistant" 18900
French 15000
Mandarin/Chinese 1470/540
Spanish 1200
Italian 630
German 500
Japanese 500
Portuguese 350
Russian 340
Arabic 240
Hindi 200

United Kingdom

"assistant" 133630
French 11500
German 10000
Italian 5400
Spanish 5000
Russian 1950
Mandarin 1250
Arabic 1000
Japanese 1500
Portuguese 1150
Hindi 310
Korean 300


"assistant" 3400
German 2120
French 1160
Spanish 500
Italian 450
Arabic 160
Portuguese 140
Russian 120
Polish 120
Japanese 90
Chinese/Mandarin 60/20


anglais (English) 35000
allemand (German) 3500
espagnol (Spanish) 1900
italien (Italian) 1400
russe (Russian) 500
portugais (Portuguese) 500
chinois (Chinese) 450
néerlandais (Dutch) 430
arabe (Arabic) 270
japonais (Japanese) 250
coreen (Korean) 50


Englisch (English) 133000
Französisch (French) 5100
Spanisch (Spanish) 2,100
Italienisch (Italian) 1600
Russisch (Russian) 1400
Niederländisch (Dutch) 840
Polnisch 640 (Polish)
Chinesisch (Chinese) 500
Turkisch (Turkish) 470
Japanisch (Japanese) 500
Portugiesisch (Portuguese) 300
Arabisch (Arabic) 300
Schwedisch (Swedish) 250
Koreanisch (Korean) 50
Kroatisch (Croatian) 50


inglese (English) 29300
tedesco (German) 4200
francese (French) 3040
spagnolo (Spanish) 1300
russo (Russian) 1030
cinese (Chinese) 540
arabo (Arabic) 200
giapponese (Japanese) 140
portoghese (Portuguese) 180
croato (Croatian) 40
turco (Turkish) 40
coreano (Korean) 20


angielski (English) 15900
niemiecki (German) 8500
francuski (French) 2100
włoski (Italian) 1200
rosyjski (Russian) 800
hiszpański (Spanish) 600
portugalski (Portuguese) 220
japoński (Japanese) 90
chiński (Chinese) 80
koreański (Korean) 30


английский (English) 61,000
немецкий (German) 7,700
итальянский (Italian) 5900
Японский (Japanese) 4300
Французский (French) 3900
китайский (Chinese) 2500
испанский (Spanish) 1350
корейский (Korean) 850
турецкий (Turkish) 600
польский (Polish) 500
португальский (Portuguese) 70

Netherlands (Dutch/English search)

Engels/English 34400/34400
Duitse/German 6750/1500
Frans/French 2300/1200
Spaans/Spanish 320/400
Italiaanse/Italian 150/220
Russisch/Russian 50/100
Japanse/Japanese 35/100
Arabisch/Arabic 60
Chinees/Chinese 50/120
Turkse/Turkish 40/45
Mandarijn/Mandarin 20/20
Bahasa -

Sweden (Swedish/English search)

engelska/English 7200/2400
tyska/German 470/110
norska/Norwegian 390/70
finska/Finnish 370/440
danska/Danish 320/90
franska/French 210/70
spanska/Spanish 140/30
ryska/Russian 60/10
kinesiska/Chinese 50/20
portugisiska/Portuguese 24/4


inglés 12600
francés 2030
alemán (German) 1220
portugués 320
italiano 300
chino (Chinese) 230
ruso (Russian) 220
arabe 70
japones 50
coreano 10


ingles (English) 6900
francês (French) 3000
espanhol (Spanish) 1400
alemão (German) 610
italiano 460
chinês 80
russo 70
árabe 45
polaco (Polish) 40
japonês 20


İngilizce (English) 10500
alman/ca (German) 100/540
rusça (Russian) 470
arapça (Arabic) 380
fransız/ca (French) 43/210
İtalyan/ca (Italian) 60/80
İspanyol/ca (Spanish)  17/84


ingles 14200
alemán 280
italiano 150
chino 140
francés 134
japones 120
portugués 100
mandarin 14
ruso 10


inglés 7700
chino/mandarin 240/40
francés 160
japones 140
italiano 77
portugués 60
coreano 35
alemán 33


ingles 2100
francés 90
italiano 65
portugués 60
alemán 20
chino/mandarin 3/20


Inglés 7,100
Portugués 630
Chino 100
Italiano 50
Francés 50
Alemán 50
Japones 10
Ruso 10
Arabe 10


inglês 19500
espanhol 3,300
francês 1,700
alemão 1,100
italiano 400
japonês 200
árabe 100
chinês 100
russo 30
"assistant" 16000
English 33400
Hindi 7950
German 600
French 550
Japanese 450
Chinese/Mandarin 340/80
Spanish 300
Italian 150
Arabic 150
Portuguese 100
Korean 100
Russian 90

China (Chinese-language search)

英语 (English) 452,900
日本 (Japanese) 12,600
韩国 (Korean) 7,050
德国 (German) 4100
法国 (French) 2800
俄罗斯 (Russian) 1300
阿拉伯语 (Arabic) 1200
意大利 (Italian) 2,650
西班牙 (Spanish) 960
印地文 (Hindi) 540
葡萄牙 (Portuguese) 255
印尼语 (Bahasa) 200

China (English-language search)

English 452,700
French 4,000
German 4,700
Spanish 3600
Japanese 1,300
Korean 500
Italian 150
Russian 130
Portuguese 36

(Search for "English" affected by English-language translations of Chinese job posts but one would assume that the job posts are translated into English for a good reason)

Japan (Japanese-language search)

英語 (English) 132,568
中国の (Chinese) 29100
韓国人 (Korean) 5400
スペイン語 (Spanish) 1060
フランス語 (French) 920
イタリア語 (Italian) 670
ドイツ語 (German) 460
ポルトガル語の (Portuguese) 360
ロシア語 (Russian) 340
アラビア語 (Arabic) 64
ヒンディー語 (Hindi) 30

South Africa

English 16800
Afrikaans 8200
French 700
German 600
Zulu 500
Portuguese 460
Xhosa 300
Spanish 200
Italian 200
Chinese/Mandarin 90/80
Sotho 90
Arabic 90
Japanese 70
Russian 50
Swahili 17
Korean 10
Hindi 6


"assistant" 17000
English 20650
Mandarin/Chinese 5800/4700
Japanese 2600
Korean 490
German 480
Bahasa 425
French 270
Italian 120
Spanish 110
Russian 35
Portuguese 16


English 15800
Bahasa 6360
Chinese/Mandarin 6200/3640
Japanese 1470
Korean 100
German 90
Hindi 65
French 60
Spanish 26
Italian 14
Russian 13
Portuguese 8


English 10200
Bahasa 3730
Mandarin/Chinese 1120/220
Japanese 700
French 120
Korean 110
Italian 60
German 50
Dutch 30
Spanish 20
Arabic 15
Russian 10
Portuguese 10


English 13000
Japanese 950
Mandarin/Chinese 620/400
Korean 520
Arabic 320
Tagalog 285
Spanish 350
French 340
German 230
Bahasa 160
Italian 150
Portuguese 125
Russian 70


"assistant" 10200
Italian 550
Mandarin/Chinese 500/400
French 440
Japanese 310
German 90
Spanish 80
Korean 70
Arabic 40
Russian 15
Portuguese 15
Bahasa 6

New Zealand

"assistant" 1200
Mandarin/Chinese 60/40
French 50
Japanese 30
German 24
Spanish 14
Italian 10
Hindi 4
Russian 4
Portuguese 1

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Keeping English in Indonesian Schools

Keeping English in Indonesian Schools
Salim Osman - Straits Times | December 04, 2012

"After weeks of review, Indonesia's Education Ministry eventually succumbed to societal pressure that English lessons be retained in elementary schools.

This about-face should be good news for parents. But it is not unexpected given the national swing towards English as an important foreign language in recent years, which the government has acknowledged.

Deputy Education Minister Musliar Kasim announced in late September that English would be scrapped for lower elementary pupils in the next school year beginning July as part of a curriculum revamp.

It was part of efforts by the ministry to ease the workload of pupils by reducing the number of subjects from ten to six. It would involve the scrapping of English, science and social studies in favor of religion, nationalism, Bahasa Indonesia, mathematics, art and sports.

With English dropped, pupils could concentrate on strengthening their Bahasa Indonesia — the country's national language — imbibing national values and picking up knowledge on science incorporated in other subjects. They would study English as a compulsory subject when they reached lower secondary or high school.

But the decision to leave out English was unpopular from the start not only among parents and language teachers but also several education departments in the regions. They debated the issue for many weeks to persuade the government to retain the language.

Parents wanted their children to have a head start in the language, seen as having higher economic value than Dutch, the language of their colonial masters. They feared their children's English lessons would be disrupted by the new curriculum.

"The scrapping of English is a retrogressive step," the head of West Kalimantan's provincial government education department, Alexius Akim, told Kompas daily.

The decision also had language teachers worried about their future as they were specifically recruited to teach English to primary school pupils.

But in a volte-face last month, Musliar announced that English would not be scrapped after all. "Schools would be allowed to offer the subject but as an elective instead. It should not be made compulsory," he said in a statement to Kompas and the Jakarta Globe.

Unlike previously, when he said that it would be "haram" or illegal to hold English lessons, Musliar made it clear that his ministry would not stop schools from offering the subject to pupils."

Brits "lazy" when it comes to learning foreign languages

Brits "lazy" when it comes to learning foreign languages
By David Howells | 21 Nov 2012                       
Brits have been dubbed "lazy linguists" after many admitted not learning the language of the country to which they're headed, reports.
A new poll published by foreign exchange provider VIDAFX found that just one in ten British travellers make any effort to learn snippets of the language before heading to another country.

In total, just five per cent said they would learn the translations for simple words such as hello, please, thank you, water and beer. A further five per cent said they would learn more complex words and phrases.

Whilst the results show a disinterest in interacting from British travellers, it also highlights potential risks for those using hire cars when on holiday as their poor grasp of the native language could cause trouble when out and about on the roads.

When quizzed on exactly why they don't take the time to learn the language, many claimed it was simply because English is so widely spoken outside of the UK. This, they said, meant there was "no point" in learning another language. Others, meanwhile, blamed shyness for not learning, with many fearing they'd be embarrassed by incorrect use of words or mispronunciation. "English tourists are renowned the world over for being particularly poor at languages," a spokesperson for VIDAFX told

"While for many holidaymakers there really is no need as such to learn the local language, it was good to report that one in 20 tourists tried their best to communicate with locals - regardless of whether they could've got by without doing so."

Comment: One in 20, huh? Good news indeed.

Strong Case for English Proficiency in North Africa

Middle East Online

The language is necessary to be able to reap the benefits of internet-based knowledge and to take part in global research and innovation, stresses Oussama Romdhani.

"Better mastery of the English language is sorely needed in North Africa so as to meet many of the region’s critical challenges. Recent global studies show that English language proficiency is still lagging in this region. According to the latest edition of the English Proficiency Index, put out by the Swiss-based organisation, Education First, English language proficiency in the North African countries of Morocco, Algeria, Libya and Egypt ranks at levels varying only between ‘low’ and ‘very low’ levels. Libya, in fact, takes the lowest rank among the 54 nations assessed in the survey.
Other results revealed by a 2012-report prepared by Euromonitor International, show that English is spoken by 14 per cent of the population in Morocco, 13 per cent in Tunisia and 7 per cent in Algeria. In the three countries, there is still reliance on French as the main foreign language (the level of proficiency in French varies between 60 to 70 per cent of the population). But even in Egypt, where French is not the second language, English is not spoken by more than 35 per cent of the population..."

"For the Maghreb countries, where trade is essentially with Europe, this is a strategic issue. English is today spoken in Europe at a higher level of proficiency than any other region of the world. It is also more spoken among the 25-35 young professional Europeans than any other age-group. If Maghreb countries are serious about being competitive in Europe, today and tomorrow, they cannot ignore the English language factor..."

"To be better equipped to deal with the joblessness problem, which affects about 40 per cent of their 19-to-25 year-old populations; North African countries need value-added economic activities. These include IT, software development, and service-related occupations of consulting and travel and tourism, where English proficiency is important. “English is necessary to compete with the broader tourism market in the Mediterranean region. Also, all the new markets in Eastern Europe require English,” says Jerry Sorkin, President of Tunis-USA, a Philadelphia-based travel company. English is necessary to be able to reap the benefits of internet-based knowledge and to take part in global research and innovation. In 2011, half of the pages on the internet were in English. Countries in North Africa with the lowest rate of internet penetration are the same with the lowest rates of English language proficiency.
English is also necessary to facilitate the access of Maghrebi job-seekers to outside employment possibilities, whether in Europe, North America or even in the Arab Gulf countries. The same applies to joint-ventures and business opportunities. A very telling indicator of the importance of English language proficiency in employment is the listing of English proficiency as a hiring requirement in newspaper job ads. English as “a second language” is required in 92 per cent of jobs advertised in Morocco and 54 per cent in Tunisia. English language proficiency guarantees a better income. In Tunisia, Algeria and Morocco, the salary gap between employees who are fluent in English and those who are not, varies between 7 per cent and 10 per cent. In Egypt, where 98 per cent of the job ads require “English as first language; the salary gap between those who speak English and those who don’t, reaches as high as 70 to 80 per cent..."

Hungary to favor German over English

Government to favor German over English as main foreign language taught in schools

"The education state secretariat plans to make German the main foreign language to be taught in schools, rather than English, news website Origo reports.
“From the point of view of language pedagogy it is proposed that pupils first encounter the German language, which has a more complex grammar structure than English.” according to the strategy.
The strategy would require pupils to take German-language exams every other year and could only sit higher entrance examinations from 2017 after passing language tests."

“In today’s international life English is the language in which we can get in touch with one another. German is, with the exception of Germany, not a language which people understand.”

Hungarian Academy of Sciences president József Pálinkás, responding to earlier reports that the government planned to officially replace English with German as the primary foreign language taught in state schools.


The education state secretary Rózsa Hoffmann later denied that the government had decided on such, saying only that a draft strategy had been written.

Hoffmann: nein to German over English in schools
Denies media reports of switch in first preferred foreign language


"EU data supports Hoffmann’s pessimistic assessment of Hungary’s foreign language skills. A Eurobarometer report in June identified Hungary as one of the countries where respondents are least likely to be able to speak any foreign language (65 per cent), behind Italy (62 per cent), the UK and Portugal (61 per cent) and Ireland (60 per cent).
Hungary also stands out as one of the countries, along with Slovakia, the Czech Republic, Bulgaria and Poland, where the proportion of those able to speak at least one foreign language decreased. Numbers stood at 35 per cent of the population, a seven per cent decrease since 2005 owing in part to a downward shift in the ability to speak Russian or German. Along with the Portuguese, Hungarians are also least likely in the EU to speak a second foreign language: 13 per cent, a 14-point drop since 2005.
The same report lists German as the third most spoken language in the EU (11 per cent), after English (38 per cent) and French (12 per cent). German nonetheless remains an important language in Hungary’s extensive engineering and manufacturing sectors.
Most multinational companies require English and/or German skills in these sectors, specialist recruitment firm Hays Hungary managing director Tammy Nagy-Stellini told The Budapest Times."

Class of 2012: Young Europeans trapped by language

Class of 2012: Young Europeans trapped by language

MADRID (AP) — Maria Menendez, a 25-year-old caught in Spain's job-destroying economic crisis, would love to work in Germany as a veterinarian. Germany, facing an acute shortage of skilled workers, would love to have her.
A perfect match, it seems, but something's holding her back: She doesn't speak German.
The European Union was built on a grand vision of free labor markets in which talent could be matched with demand in a seamless and efficient manner, much in the way workers in the U.S. hop across states in search of opportunity. But today only 3 percent of working age EU citizens live in a different EU country, research shows. As young people in crisis-hit southern Europe face unemployment rates hovering at 50 percent, many find themselves caught in a language trap, unable to communicate in the powerhouse economy that needs their skills the most: Germany.
"I think going abroad is my best option," said Menendez, "but for people like me who have never studied German, it would be like starting from zero."
Editors: This is the latest installment in Class of 2012, an exploration of Europe's financial crisis through the eyes of young people emerging from the cocoon of student life into the worst downturn the continent has seen since the end of World War II. Follow the class on its new Google plus page:
In northern Europe, companies are desperately seeking to plug labor gaps caused by low birth rates and the growing need for specialized skills amid still robust economies. Germany alone requires tens of thousands of engineers, IT-specialists, nurses and doctors to keep its economy thriving in the years to come.
But a recent study pinpointed language as the single biggest barrier to cross-border mobility in Europe.
"What seems to prevent further labor market integration in Europe is the fact that we speak different languages," said Nicola Fuchs-Schuendeln, a Frankfurt University economics professor who co-authored the study.
Few German employers are prepared to compromise when it comes to language skills, according to Raimund Becker, who heads the German Federal Employment Agency's division for foreign and specialist recruitment. "If you want to work as an engineer you'll need a certain specialist vocabulary," he said. "Even colloquial German isn't enough."
Earlier this year the agency announced it would invest up to €40 million ($51 million) in special programs to help jobless Europeans aged 18 and 35 learn German so they can pursue jobs or training in Germany.
The measure targets people like Menendez, who graduated from veterinary school and has two master's degrees but hasn't been able to find work in Spain.
The market for veterinarians in her home country has taken a phenomenal beating over the past four years. Veterinary clinics are cutting back severely because crisis-hit Spaniards are spending less on pets, and a recent hike in the sales tax to 21 percent is hurting these businesses even more. "They're just not hiring," Menendez said.
She would also be qualified to work as a veterinarian for an agricultural company, and she has sent about 1,000 resumes to all corners of Spain over the last year. But only two companies called her back for a preliminary interview. Neither called to invite her for a formal one.
Menendez said she found plenty of jobs online in Germany, where EU rules mean her Spanish qualification would be accepted. But the ads are either in German or, if in English, say that candidates must have good German.
Like most Spaniards, she studied English at school and is now focusing on improving her English. Often touted as the continent's 'lingua franca,' English is widely used in multi-national companies but rarely in the public sector or the small-to-medium sized enterprises that employ the bulk of the European labor force. Meanwhile, London isn't the magnet for young English-speaking Europeans that it used to be. Migrants who flocked there a decade ago are now returning home or looking elsewhere for work as Britain, too, struggles with a rising jobless rate.
Ricardo de Campano learned the hard way how critical it is to have a wide set of language skills when he left London for Berlin two years ago. The 34-year-old said he quickly found work as a special needs teacher in London with the English he'd learned at school, but the same wasn't true when he came to Germany.
"If you want to have a decent job and be part of the system, pay your taxes and have your health insurance, you need to have German," said De Campano, who is now studying the language of Goethe at an adult education college where Spaniards have come to make up the biggest single group of students in recent years.
But despite the boom in German language teaching seen also in Spain itself, the number of Spaniards coming to Germany remains modest. According to figures provided by the Federal Employment Agency, less than 5,000 Spaniards have taken up jobs in Germany over the past year — a tiny fraction of the 4.7 million jobless in Spain.
Class of 2012 participant Rafael Gonzalez del Castillo speaks German and could work in Germany. He picked up the language on a student exchange program in the southern town of Darmstadt and lived with German flat-mates in Madrid. But, in perhaps an alarming sign for Europe, he sees more opportunity and cultural affinity in booming Latin America — and has started to learn Portuguese so he can see work in Brazil.
It's part of a rising trend in Spaniards departing for former European colonies in Latin America, meaning that Europe is losing much of its top-level talent to emerging economies.
"I see Brazil as a country that's going to grow so much in these years," said Gonzalez del Castillo, "And I feel close to them because we are Latin people, and our language is similar."
His fellow architect, 25-year-old David Garcia, is doing his masters in architecture in Spain after spending a year at the university in Regensburg, Germany. While there, Garcia took German lessons outside of his normal studies for the entire period.
Now, Garcia is working for a German company remotely while in Spain, and plans to return there when he finishes — but none of his classmates have targeted Germany for work even though there are plenty of building opportunities there.
"All the people I am studying with want to go abroad, but they prefer to go to England or South America because it will take them a lot of time for them to learn German," Garcia said.
Meanwhile, there are indications that workers from outside the EU are more willing to learn a new language than those from members of the bloc itself. The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development said in its 2012 report that while only 3 percent of working-age EU citizens live in a fellow EU country, migrants from outside the EU make up 5 percent of the EU working-age population. And when Germany's economy minister recently launched a program to recruit skilled foreign workers, he turned not to southern Europe's vast pool of jobless workers but to India, Indonesia and Vietnam.
Ten years ago European leaders at a meeting in the Spanish city of Barcelona called for "action to improve the mastery of basic skills, in particular by teaching at least two foreign languages from a very early age." Six years later, the EU's language czar, Leonard Orban, declared that speaking two foreign languages in addition to their mother tongue should be the goal for all citizens of the 27-nation bloc.
The result has been a deluge of programs to subsidize language learning in Europe. Yet a poll of more than 25,000 Europeans earlier this year still found only 54 percent said they were able to hold a conversation in more than one language.
And with austerity eating into European government budgets, the bloc's flagship student exchange program Erasmus, which supports 250,000 students and teachers with grants each year, faces a funding crisis.
"We've had bills for over €100 million already which we can't honor because there's no money in the pot," said Dennis Abbott, a spokesman for the European Commission's education and multi-lingualism directorate.
The shortfall represents less than 0.1 percent of the EU's annual budget, but the failure to break down language barriers could end up being far costlier.
Edoardo Campanella, a former economic adviser to the Italian government, says labor mobility is fundamental to the EU's common market, and in particular the eurozone, where countries with widely differing economic fortunes share a single currency.
"Labor mobility is an important adjustment mechanism," said Campanella, currently a Fulbright Scholar at the Harvard Kennedy School. "The language hurdle impairs this safe-valve."
At Berlin's Cafe Colectivo, 30-year-old project manager Maria Sarricolea from Spain laughed as she recalled friends asking about the job prospects in Germany.
"A lot of Spanish people think they can come here and get a great job with a bit of English," she said.


Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Time to stop avoiding grammar rules

Time to stop avoiding grammar rules

The evidence is now in: the explicit teaching of grammar rules leads to better learning


"The straightforward, pre-planned teaching of grammar in English language teaching has been under attack for years. Various alternatives have been proposed: to expose learners to language that is just a bit more advanced than what they currently produce; to wait until a communicative situation demands a certain structure before introducing it; to let the grammar emerge naturally from vocabulary learning, or from the lived context of the classroom. Each approach has been defended with carefully structured arguments, and some approaches have been embraced enthusiastically by ministries of education around the world.
However, evidence trumps argument, and the evidence is now in. Rigorously conducted meta-analyses of a wide range of studies have shown that, within a generally communicative approach, explicit teaching of grammar rules leads to better learning and to unconscious knowledge, and this knowledge lasts over time.
This will not surprise the many teachers who have continued to teach grammar despite the tides of fashion. Behind classroom doors, the wisdom of the community of practitioners has often prevailed.
So why has there been so much resistance to the teaching of grammar rules?
There is a problem with English: it is a morphologically light language. It doesn't have many different verb endings, and its nouns only inflect for plural. If the language under discussion were Polish, with its three noun genders and seven cases, the idea that teaching grammar rules wasn't necessary would probably not even occur. It has been possible to get away with the idea that there is no need to teach grammar in English. Now, however, with the evidence piling up, this is no longer an option.
Some of the writers opposing explicit grammar teaching have confused a target end-state (near-native production) with how the learner reaches the target. For example, a large percentage of the language that a native speaker uses is composed of multi-word units or "chunks"; so, one argument goes, what we need to do is teach chunks, not grammar. Wrong. Learning vocabulary (including chunks) is very important. But the best estimate is that there are hundreds of thousands of chunks in English; learning enough of these to have an appropriate chunk to hand in a given situation is not a quick or trivial job. With much less time and effort, learners can acquire grammar for putting together comprehensible phrases and sentences that can serve them on the long journey towards more native-like proficiency.
Another problem is that most English language learning takes place in countries where English is not the predominant language: a foreign language situation. Much of the thinking leading to strictures against grammar teaching has taken place in countries where English is the predominant language: a second language situation. The enormous difference in exposure to the target language makes arguments based on exposure or emergence much less plausible in the foreign language situation.
Teachers see that few of their learners develop highly advanced proficiency. These teachers yearn to do better for their students, and researchers want to help them to do better. On the basis that teachers have been teaching grammar rules, and learners have not been reaching the desired proficiency, one conclusion is that teaching grammar rules is not working, and so other solutions must be sought. An alternative conclusion is that learning a language, especially in a low-exposure situation, is very difficult, and it may be the case that whatever teachers do, few learners will achieve high proficiency. The only way to find out whether improvements can be made is to look for evidence, like the evidence in the recent analyses.
There is a notion that pre-planned focus on a given grammar structure will not lead to effective learning, and that grammar should only be taught at the point when the need for a structure emerges during a task. Some of the problems this poses are obvious. In a class of 30, one learner's need might not correspond to another's. Few teachers are able to give a clear and reliable explanation of every grammar point that pops up. There is no guarantee that the needs that happen to emerge over the length of a language course will correspond to the structures that the learners will need in their subsequent use of that language. But in any case, it has been found that there is no difference in effectiveness between integrating grammar teaching into tasks and separating grammar teaching from tasks.
What does this imply for teaching? Teaching grammar explicitly is more effective than not teaching it, or than teaching it implicitly; that is now clear. What this implies is that the grammar in a course should be planned, to ensure coverage of the structures learners will need. Teachers cannot depend on a range of texts or a range of topics or a range of tasks to yield all the grammar in a course. Taking each class as it comes is not an option. A grammar syllabus is needed, along with the other syllabuses and word lists that structure a course.
This does not mean that grammar is the most important thing to teach: the title probably goes to vocabulary. But there is room, and need, for both vocabulary and grammar. Good teaching of good rules with good examples and good practice activities can mean that grammar teaching only takes the time it needs to take. And now it is clear that this grammar teaching works.

Dr Catherine Walter lectures in applied linguistics at the University of Oxford and is the co-author with Michael Swan of the Oxford English Grammar Course"

Comment: If the evidence is really in, it would have been nice to actually see a link or reference to actual studies. After "bakunin77" (hmmm..."my" Bakunin?) contacted Dr. Walter, she responded very quickly, quoting the following four references:
Norris, J. M. & L. Ortega. 2000. Effectiveness of L2 instruction: a research synthesis and quantitative meta-analysis. Language Learning 50/3: 417-528.
Gass, S. & L. Selinker. 2008. Second Language Acquisition: an Introductory Course (Third Edition). New York: Routledge/Taylor.
Spada, N. & Y. Tomita. 2010. Interactions between type of instruction and type of
language feature: a meta-analysis. Language Learning 60/2: 1-46.
Spada, N. & P. M. Lightbown. 2008. Form-focused instruction: isolated or integrated?
TESOL Quarterly 42: 181-207.

Not quite fresh or earth-shattering research. Methinks the good professor didn't count someone would actually ask. But what the heck. The other side keeps chanting input, input, Hare Krishna... Time to stop reading this stuff.