The Black Box

Muscuentos Black Box Podcast   Indwelling Language Logo with text lighter orange 576


Videocast 1: Why your methods don’t matter

Source information: “Methodological Principles for Language Teaching,” by Michael H. Long. As ch. 21 in Handbook of Language Teaching, ed. Catherine J. Doughty and Michael H. Long, Wiley Blackwell 2011.
Resources: To watch the videocast, click here.
Date: June 4, 2015
Presenter: Sara-Elizabeth Cottrell

Videocast 2: Grammar drills aren’t all in your head… or in your head at all

Source information: “The Two Faces of SLA: Mental Representation and Skill,” by Bill Van Patten. In International Journal of English Studies Vol. 10, No. 1 (2010).
Resources: To watch the videocast, click here.
Date: June 15, 2015
Presenter: Justin Slocum Bailey

Videocast 3: All they need is accurate input, right? Wrong.

Source information: “The Compelling (Not Just Interesting) Input Hypothesis” by Stephen Krashen. In The English Connection (KOTESOL) Vol. 15, No. 3:1 (2011).
Resources: To watch the videocast, click here.
Date: July 1, 2015
Presenter: Albert Fernandez

Videocast 4: I can do more with you than I can alone

Source information: “Sociocultural Theory and Second Language Development” by James P. Lantolf, Steven L. Thorne, and Matthew E. Poehner; Chapter 11, pp. 207 – and Chapter 23 by Lourdes Ortega. In Theories in Second Language Acquisition (2nd Edition) ed. Van Patten and Williams. Taylor and Francis, 2015.
Resources: To watch the videocast, click here.
Date: July 15, 2015
Presenter: Karen Tharringon

Videocast 5: If I learn it, can I use it?

Source information: “The Interface Debate: Strong, Weak, None, or All?” by ZhaoHong Han and Rosette Finneran; International Journal of Applied Linguistics 24(3), 370-389. (2014)
Resources: To watch the videocast, click here.
Date: August 1, 2015
Presenter: Sara-Elizabeth Cottrell

Videocast 6: You can’t possibly teach it. But you can do this.

Source information: “The Inescapable Case for Extensive Reading” by Rob Waring; in Extensive Reading in English Language Teaching ed. Cirocki (2009)
Resources: To watch the videocast, click here.
Date: August 15, 2015
Presenter: Justin Slocum Bailey

Videocast 7: More TL in class is tough. Let’s do it anyway.

Source information: “Overcoming Resistance to 90% Target Language Use: Rationale, Challenges, and Suggestions” by Jean Leloup, Robert Ponterio, and Mark Warford; in NCTFL Review #72
Resources: To watch the videocast, click here.
Date: October 3, 2015
Presenter: Albert Fernandez

Videocast 8: Correcting all those errors? Step away from the red pen.

Source information: “The Effectiveness of Written Corrective Feedback in Teaching Beginning German” by Nina Vyatkina; in Foreign Language Annals, 43:4 (Winter 2010): 671-689
Resources: To watch the videocast, click here.
Date: October 15, 2015
Presenter: Karen Tharrington

Videocast 9: Teach me to say what I need to say: An overview of TBLT

Source information: Various
Resources: To watch the videocast, click here.
Date: November 24, 2015
Presenter: Elliott Goodman

Videocast 10: Too much choice: A self-defeating tyranny?

Source information: “More or less choice? The influence of choice on task motivation and task engagement” by Anastasia Mozgalina; in System 40 (2015) 120-132
Resources: To watch the videocast, click here.
Date: December 15, 2015
Presenter: Sara-Elizabeth Cottrell

Videocast 11: Throwback ThurSLAy: The research that brought us here

Source information: Savignon, “Communicative Competence” (1976); Corder, “Significance of Learners’ Errors” (1967); Selinker, “Interlanguage” (1972); Lightbown, “Relationships between Developmental and Instructional Sequences” (1983); Terrell, “Acquisition in the Natural Approach” (1986).
Resources: To watch the videocast, click here.
Date: June 21, 2016
Presenters: Albert Fernandez, Justin Slocum-Bailey, Sara-Elizabeth Cottrell, Elliott Goodman, Karen Tharrington

Videocast 12: Yes, some people are “good” at learning languages. So what?

Source information: “Foreign Language Aptitude and Its Relationship with Grammar: A Critical Overview” by Peter Skehan; in Applied Linguistics 2015: 36/3 (367-384).
Resources: To watch the videocast, click here.
Date: May 16, 2017
Presenter: Sara-Elizabeth Cottrell


What is this about?

The Musicuentos Black Box is a collection of 12 videocasts designed to address a great disconnect in world language teaching: the lack of effective communication between researchers investigating how people learn language and the teachers working to help those people develop communicative language skills.  (Scroll down for the 5 audio episodes Sara-Elizabeth produced as the original idea.)  The Musicuentos Black Box podcast was sponsored by and Indwelling Language.

These resources were developed by a team of five world language educators.

Meet us

bio full body outside

Sara-Elizabeth Cottrell

Sara-Elizabeth Cottrell is a Spanish teacher, independent world languages consultant, the blogger behind, and the founder of the Musicuentos Black Box Podcast.  She has an M.A. in Linguistics with an emphasis on Second Language Acquisition from the University of South Carolina.  Her research interests include individual differences like motivation and aptitude, comprehensible input methodology, and interaction/output theories.  Her dream SLA conversation would happen over DQ blizzards with Catherine Doughty, Rod Ellis, and Susan Gass.


JSB 1 close 325x325 roundedJustin Slocum Bailey

Justin Slocum Bailey, operator of, trains learners and teachers worldwide to maximize their joy and success. Himself a gung ho learner and teacher of both modern and classical languages, Justin has also conducted research on Second Language Acquisition and Bilingualism at the University of Michigan. These days, his inquiries focus on learner habits, mental representation and processing, and content selection. After hours, Justin enjoys practicing JuJutsu, playing basement soccer with his kids, and watching mysteries with his wife.


Karen TKaren Tharrington

Karen Tharrington is a Foreign Language methods instructor for education majors and a Spanish Lecturer at North Carolina State University  She has an M.A. in Spanish Language and Literature from NCSU, where she conducted research on Dynamic Assessment, and is currently pursuing a PhD in Digital Learning and Teaching.  Her research interests include leveraging technology for second language acquisition, both online and in the classroom, teaching for cultural competency, and foreign language teacher preparation and support.  She is a believer that great teaching and sound pedagogy go hand-in-hand.  Her dream job would be as a photographer for National Geographic Traveler.

AF cropAlbert Fernández

Albert Fernández is a K-8 Spanish teacher in Central Florida and the person behind the FLES CI blog He has an M.A.T. in Foreign Language Education from the University of South Florida. His research interests include student motivation and success, proficiency-based assessment, second language acquisition, curriculum development, and bilingualism/biliteracy. Outside of foreign language teaching and research, his interests include reading Spanish novels, playing music, and cooking.

IMG_20150623_125533_528Elliott Goodman

Elliott Goodman is a teacher community developer at, language acquisition researcher, and former classroom teacher. He has an Ed.M. in Second Language Acquisition and Assessment from Teachers College, Columbia University. There he conducted research on topics varying from use of tasks in adult TESOL classrooms to a national needs analysis of high school Latin students and teachers. In his free time, Elliott enjoys watching James Bond movies and practicing his bartending skills.


Thank you

We’d like to offer a special THANK YOU to the contributors who made our Deep Dyve and VideoScribe subscriptions possible so we could make this idea a reality.

Musicuentos Black Box Audio Podcasts

Here are the 5 episodes Sara-Elizabeth produced when she originally had the idea to communicate journal research to teachers in the classroom.

Episode 1 (April 1, 2014): Factors Affecting Pronunciation Gains (Wendy Baker Smemoe & Naomi Haslam, “The Effect of Language Learning Aptitude, Strategy Use and Learning Context on L2 Pronunciation Learning” in Applied Linguistics, September 1, 2013)

Episode 2 (April 15, 2014): Circumlocution (Deborah Arteaga & Lucía Llorente, “On the Importance of Circumlocution in the Spanish Classroom” in Estudios de Lingüística Universidad de Alicante #26, 2012)

Episodes 3 and 4 (May 3 and May 19, 2014): To Sell Is Human Part 1 and Part 2 (Daniel Pink)

Episode 5 (June 18, 2014): Oral Corrective Feedback (Rosemary Erlam, Rod Ellis & Rob Batstone, “Oral Corrective Feedback on L2 Writing: Two Approaches Compared” in System #41, 2013)