So far (after 1 day of private beta) this site seems to have attracted mostly people who learn languages as a hobby. That's visible in the nature of questions and answers. It's also visible in the commitment statistics — only 15% self-declared as professional or academic.

That's ok, but it does seem that something's missing. Where are the teachers? There isn't really such a thing as a professional learner, but surely the best people to help people learn a language are language teachers.

I'm wondering if the name “Language learning” is off-putting. Should the site's name be “Language teaching”, to put the focus on experts? I'm not a fan either: that does seem to exclude people who learn on their own, which is not good either. “Language teaching and learning” or “Language learning and teaching”? Quite a mouthful.

“Second Language Acquisition” was proposed before the site started. The outcome of the discussion is that while the term is technically correct, it's likely not to be understood by the bulk of the audience.

Well, now the site has started. What do participants think? What name would best represent the site, without seeming to exclude either teachers or self-learners? It would be especially interesting to hear from people who are in some way experts in language learning, such as teachers.

  • 1
    Thanks for asking the question. We definitely want to attract some experts. I wonder if it would be a good idea to send invitations to some "professional learners turned teachers" like Gabriel Wyner, Benny Lewis, and others.
    – Flimzy
    Commented Apr 7, 2016 at 5:53
  • 4
    I also wonder if teachers are more likely to join us after the site goes public. Private Beta is heavily biased toward existing SE users, which will generally be hobbyists on a site of a new type. It's not until it's public that professionals who aren't already SE users will learn of the new site.
    – Flimzy
    Commented Apr 7, 2016 at 5:54
  • Is it still possible to change the site name at this point? If yes, I'd go for "Language Learning and Teaching" as Ooker suggested, since we aren't attracting many teachers, let alone SLA researchers.
    – Tsundoku Mod
    Commented Sep 21, 2016 at 19:45
  • @ChristopheStrobbe There is hope: Programmers.SE is changing its name after 6 years. But there has to be a very strong push from the site's community, and even for a young beta I'm not seeing a very strong push here. Commented Sep 21, 2016 at 20:13

8 Answers 8


I am a language teacher and agree with the OP's suggestion that including the word Teaching in the site's name may attract more answers from professionals like me who have studied second language acquisition and will be able to support answers with research findings. Certainly, this is how I hope to contribute to the success of this new site.

I would suggest Teaching & learning languages, or Learning & teaching languages. This is longer than most other Stack site names but there a few others that are equally long or even longer.

And the first of my two suggestions has the advantage of producing a memorable acronym: TALL.

  • Thanks for your input, and welcome to the site! If you have ideas about what the site should be like, please lead by example by posting the kind of questions and answers you'd like to see. It may take a while, but in my experience, it does pay off. Commented Apr 8, 2016 at 20:50
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    I like "Teaching & Learning Languages". +1
    – Flimzy
    Commented Apr 10, 2016 at 13:52
  • I like to have a memorable acronym, but I don't think a misleading acronym is worth that memorableness. How do we establish a logical relationship between "higher than avarage height" (real meaning of tall) and what the site is for? First impression is very important.
    – Ooker
    Commented Apr 22, 2016 at 10:22

I'm aware I'm going to be slightly off-topic, and I know I'm not going to answer in the end, but OP's question raises several issues that ultimately affects that of the name and my point is much too long for either a comment or sentence in the chat room.

only 15% self-declared as professional or academic

15% might be overrated, I'll explain. I agree with OP's use of the word "professional" here but I'd like to point out that the term used in commitment, choice & statistics, is "expert" and not "professional" and that can make a huge difference. Few people who are not professionals will declare themselves as "professionals", whereas lots of people might declare themselves as "experts" just because they speak the language.
Being a native of a language, or just being fluent in a language does not mean one is an expert at teaching the language*. Teaching a language not only requires some knowledge of the language but expertise in teaching methods, and the expertise in teaching is more important than the expertise in the language. Teaching a language does not only involve knowledge of the language but knowledge in neurobiology (process at work when listening, memorising, etc.), acoustics, phonetics, and lots of other things. OP makes the point himself at the end of his question:

It would be especially interesting to hear from people who are in some way experts in language learning, such as teachers.

Now about the name:
"Language learning" does not indeed come across professionals who are teachers, I do not think "language study" would work any better, neither term include the process of transmission that is implied in teaching, teaching implies interacting with someone else in order to pass on some specific knowledge. A learner can learn without a teacher but a teacher cannot teach without a learner, thus "language teaching" would be more relevant but would the learners' part of the site feel concerned and it would it be really sufficient to attract professionals?
"Language teaching and learning"? Not so much of a mouthful (it would soon be LTL) but there again would it be sufficient to attract professionals?

Academics this site is trying to attract - or so it seems to me - are specialists of SLAT (Second Language Acquisition and Teaching). It's the denomination used in international communication, English being the language of exchanges in oral communication and academic papers on this topic.
The word "learning" alone will not attract SLAT professionals at first glance and if one wants to advertise and boost search engines, then it needs something catchy.
This is my contribution to SLAT search by bots, but acronym SLAT being used for other things expansion is needed at some point.

* And this is really an issue in countries where the lack of trained language teachers is tackled by employing natives of the language who have no training.


There is a trade between correctness and understand-ability most of the time. I think if we need both, then just use Language Learning and Teaching. IMO, correctness together with understand-ability are way more helpful than being concise. Look at the list of all sites in SE, one can easily spot some long names like History of Math and Science, Genealogy & Family History, Software Quality Assurance & Testing, Motor Vehicle Maintenance & Repair or Programming Puzzles & Code Golf. They are definitely longer than the proposed name.

We can also ask on ELU to find a single word that both means learning and teaching.

  • 1
    "Education", but then that sounds like it's excluding self-study (though it technically doesn't)
    – Dan Getz
    Commented Apr 9, 2016 at 12:52
  • then ask what single word also contain the meaning "self-educate" :)
    – Ooker
    Commented Apr 22, 2016 at 10:11

Are the following questions considered on-topic?

  • What activities / games are effective for helping students learn new vocabulary?
  • Are verbal corrections / recasts effective ways of giving feedback to students when they make a mistake?
  • How can I get students to speak in English / the target language more in class?
  • How can I check (all) students comprehension of a reading / listening passage quickly?
  • How can I encourage students to do more extensive reading outside of class?

If these are on-topic, then I think the name "Language Learning & Teaching" is best. If they're off-topic, the current name is better.


I think we should rely upon people using common sense and entertain the possibility that a site called "language learning" may include questions about teaching, and peruse the questions in the site to find out for sure.


An alternative to "Language Learning" would be "Language Study." That would encompass both teaching and learning.

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    My only problem with "Language Study" is that it, at least to me, implies the study of language itself, which belongs on Linguistics.SE.
    – Alex A.
    Commented Apr 7, 2016 at 16:55

We are starting to get questions about raising bi-lingual children. If we want these to be on-topic, then "Second Language Acquisition" is clearly not an ideal name (as proposed in the Area 51 discussion prior to launch).

But maybe "Language Acquisition" would be appropriate? Would this seem more inviting/appealing to teachers? Does it seem less "linguisticy" than "Second Language Acquisition" such that it won't alienate less technical learners?

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    I think language acquisition has the same problem as language learning with respect to teachers. And to the general public it sounds much more technical. Commented Apr 8, 2016 at 9:49

Learning is very relevant for teachers. Teachers teach learners, who are learning. You can have teaching without learning, but for most people that situation is undesirable. I guess it's possible some teachers might think "learning" doesn't include them, but it would really surprise me.

It sounds almost like you're treating the title of the site as "Language Learners". It's not, though, it's "Language Learning".

My guess would be that we have a lower number of teachers compared to self-studiers because there are more language students and self-studiers than there are language teachers in the world.

I agree that we should be thinking of ways to attract more language teachers, but the site name is fine and is unrelated to that.

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