• Home
    Home This is where you can find all the blog posts throughout the site.
  • Categories
    Categories Displays a list of categories from this blog.
  • Tags
    Tags Displays a list of tags that have been used in the blog.
  • Bloggers
    Bloggers Search for your favorite blogger from this site.
  • Archives
    Archives Contains a list of blog posts that were created previously.
  • Login
    Login Login form
Rob Sheppard

Rob Sheppard

Rob Sheppard | @robshpprd


In over 10 years of English language teaching Rob has held a variety of roles in many teaching contexts. These include the cram-school culture of Taiwan and Korea; intensive academic English programs in Boston; advanced conversation and TOEFL prep via Skype; and nonprofit adult English programs for immigrants to Greater Boston. He is the founder and CEO of Ginseng English, former director of adult education and interim executive director at Quincy Asian Resources, a member of the community advisory council at First Literacy. He has a master’s degree in TESOL from The New School, and his areas of interest include pronunciation and grammar instruction, curriculum development, and assessment. He is also a regular contributor to the TESOL Blog on the topic of adult education.

Posted by on in Education Technology

We may have come a long way since the days of filling the blackboard with Latin declensions, but the field of formal language teaching and learning is still relatively young. The demand for language instruction is surging: the British Council anticipates two billion people studying English by 2020—and that’s just English. While this field is growing dramatically, technology is changing nearly every industry out there, so without a doubt, technology will dramatically reshape what language learning looks like within our lifetime. Let’s take a look at some emerging technologies with the potential to transform the language-learning industry.


Immersive Video

Virtual reality—like other items on this list—first debuted decades ago, but back then it was a hefty investment in a clunky headset, cord-bound to a CPU that would transport you to a digital world of wonder. Or if not wonder, at least a world of pixelated polygons. Today, things are different: our iPhones pack all the necessary tech components—magnetometer, gyroscope, etc.—and Facebook’s 360 Videos and YouTube 360 put actual VR (now often called “immersive video”) into our pockets and onto our feeds.


Last modified on

Posted by on in General


In the past couple of weeks, the dorkiest subsegments of the twitterverse, the blogosphere, and various other social interwebs have erupted with news of singular they. In December the Washington Post made their own headlines by adding  singular they to their style guide. Then last week, the folks at the American Dialect Society went a step further, naming singular they their word of the year. The selection was reported by the Washington Post, The New York Times, TIME, NPR, Slate, The Economist, and of course the Kilgore News Herald

If you’re saying to yourself, Wait, I coulda sworn the word of the year was b2ap3_thumbnail_Screen-Shot-2016-02-05-at-8.18.38-AM.png , you're not totally crazy. It seems that a number of organizations have recognized that word of the year announcements have the potential to go viral, resulting in a profusion of words of the year. But it's the ADS WOTY that goes back furthest and carries the most clout, and their selection was singular they. 

The SNOOTs Protest!

Now it might not surprise you that certain subsubsegments or the dorkiest subsegments of the Internet are none too happy with this decision; singular they has peeved language SNOOTs for pretty much ever in sentences like, I don’t know who is responsible, but they will face the consequences.Prescriptively, if you needed a generic third person singular pronoun, he was your andro-normative go-to, as in When each guest arrives, he should sign in. Everyone’s favorite prescriptivists, Strunk and White, put it thusly: “The use of he as pronoun for nouns embracing both genders is a simple, practical convention rooted in the beginnings of the English language.” Other common options were he or she and s/he but these have a certain clunkiness that kept them from catching on. Those among us who wanted to put in a good faith effort would try to mix in a generic she from time to time.

Last modified on