I'm new to the forum, and I've participated in answering questions and asking them. IMHO esl teachers are in general a poorly trained lot. I strive to develop my understanding of grammar, semantics, syntax and pedagogy in order to be effective as a teacher, and to make sure that the concepts I teach are accurate and useful. While I find the state of esl pedagogy woefully inadequate, I do hope that it will improve over time, and that I may contribute to such progress. I've searched for forums specific to teachers but have found none that are particularly useful. This is by far the best forum I've found to date and while I'm neither a linguist or etymologist, I certainly do qualify as an enthusiast. However, despite the fact that language acquisition is an accepted domain of linguistics, there is little to show of it in this forum. I do hope I will be welcomed.

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    I think English Language Learners would probably be more appropriate for your needs. There's also Language Learning, but that's just a "beta" site at the moment, which implies some limits to functionality, size of user base, etc. Commented Jun 28, 2017 at 12:12
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    I know there are ESL teachers here so you'd be in good company.
    – Chris H
    Commented Jun 28, 2017 at 12:13
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    If that is the case, then I believe this forum may be a fit for you.
    – Hank
    Commented Jun 28, 2017 at 13:24
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    100% agreed with @Hank.
    – Dan Bron
    Commented Jun 28, 2017 at 13:42
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    I think you might find you have some questions that will be more appropriate here on ELU and some that would be a better fit on ELL. There is a lot of overlap (both in topics and community members), so you may want to just look around a bit and get a feel for each community.
    – ColleenV
    Commented Jun 29, 2017 at 15:35
  • You're right there isn't much (any?) information here on acquisition of English, although I think there certainly could be space for it. I encourage you to also check out languagelearning.stackexchange.com Commented Jun 29, 2017 at 16:21
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    There's also Academia.SE. One of the topics you can ask about there is "University-level pedagogy".
    – Mazura
    Commented Jul 1, 2017 at 2:22
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    As a side note, whichever StackExchange site you visit, it would probably be helpful for you not to think of the site as a forum, because it really is not. It’s meant to be specifically about questions and the best (and best-sourced) possible answers, whereas a forum is a place for free discussion. It’s a small difference, you might say, but it shows a fundamental dichotomy at the very heart of what makes both types of places. The fact that you originally asked this on the main site (where it would be quite off topic) indicates that you have not realised or grasped this difference. Commented Jul 2, 2017 at 17:00
  • @UbuEnglish This is no "forum". This is a question and answer site. Commented Jul 5, 2017 at 0:03
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    Even if technically this is not a forum, there is nonetheless quite a bit of discussion. But I'm clear on the aspiration of this site to focus on questions and answers and will abide. Why nitpick, when there's a question to be answered? Commented Jul 5, 2017 at 7:54

4 Answers 4


It depends. English Language & Usage might be what you are looking for if you are interested in the details and nuance of the language. On the other hand, if you are wondering about how to effectively teach certain concepts or if you are seeking understanding of some of the aspects of the language that frequently confuse non-native speakers, then English Language Learners is a good fit.

There's no reason you can't frequent both communities, and I would encourage you to do so.

You might like to read my answer to a meta topic on the ELL site that I think is a good rough sketch of the difference between the sites.

And welcome!


Based on the following statements you made, I believe you will be quite welcome here:

I've participated in answering questions and asking them.

I strive to develop my understanding of grammar, semantics, syntax and pedagogy in order to be effective as a teacher

This is by far the best forum I've found to date and while I'm neither a linguist or etymologist, I certainly do qualify as an enthusiast.

That's really about all it takes as a foundation. The fact that you will be approaching the forum from the perspective of a language acquisition instructor should be no impediment, though there are some things to be aware of as you participate.

There are certain types of questions and answers that are on and off topic for this site. You can learn about them by taking the tour or checking out the help center.

Feel free to also peruse other meta questions to see what kinds of discussions are carried out by experienced users on the site. The best way to learn is by looking at questions by experienced users and seeing how they contribute, as NVZ pointed out in their answer.

Ultimately, the best way to learn about the site is by participating and seeing what sort of responses you get from different kinds of questions and answers. Don't let one bad response to an answer get you discouraged about the site. Keep working, but try to learn from the feedback that you get each time. Considering that you've put this much thought into your participation already, chances are you'll be an excellent member of the community. To echo NVZ again, welcome to ELU!


I don't think that ESL teachers as a group will find major areas of disagreement with how semantics is treated on ELU.

How pragmatics is treated is more problematic, but that's hardly related to whether or not one has had ELU training: pragmatics grades into style choice and tends to be somewhat subjective.

But when one looks at grammar, one finds different schools of analysis members of which can disagree quite strongly. And as Quirk and Svartvik pointed out, educated Anglophones can even (and quite often do) disagree over the very acceptability of certain constructions. Claiming 'this is correct' is often an arrogation.

From previous conversations, I've picked up that there isn't a unified ESL approach to grammar (though some would like us to believe that there is – and possibly even believe there is themselves). A major problem on ELU is that some assume that the terminology / standards of acceptability / methods of analysis they have been taught are unique / universally accepted / unchallengeable / final (or at least post convincing-sounding answers as if they do). In scientific articles, definition of terms as used locally, labelling of hypotheses as such rather than laws, and attributions to those giving theories would be considered mandatory. And if a certain approach was required by some institution, opposing ones would be acknowledged and caveats attached to publications.

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    Thanks for this. I think you meant Randolph Quirk, not Quark. Semantics vs pragmatics is one thing, however I do think it is manageable in terms of ESL, but the conflicts, errors and inconsistencies, as well as an overall lack of systemic cohesion of traditional classroom grammar are a common source of confusion for many ESL students and cause both anxiety and aversion to the topic. I'm working on that. Commented Jul 9, 2017 at 11:47
  • The lack of consistency within linguistics (not a criticism) is one of the reasons classroom grammar has failed to keep up with the advancements in the field, and helps explain why outdated concepts and rules are still widely taught. There's also the passion with which people tend to defend their notions of what is correct. It all tends to leave ESL students in the lurch. Commented Jul 9, 2017 at 11:54
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    ELU and ESL have, of course, different (though intersecting) target groups. There are native speakers who wish to be (and arguably many more who should be) made aware of recent developments in deciding what is acceptable in English, and especially with grammar, in deciding which explanations are most helpful / accurate – and what reasonable alternatives have been put forward. But the necessary depth and balance is usually only found in academic articles, not grammar books. Commented Jul 9, 2017 at 13:36

Welcome to the ELU family!

Check out the posts by of one of our best users, and you'll get off to a good start.


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    I'm not sure how this addresses if ELU is a good site for the OP.
    – Mitch
    Commented Jun 28, 2017 at 17:41
  • @Mitch I'm sure others addressed that matter. :)
    – NVZ Mod
    Commented Jun 29, 2017 at 3:44

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