Fossilization: is it terminal, doctor? – Scott Thornbury and AGM

Saturday, 11th February, 10:00 – 16:30
GLS Sprachenzentrum, Kastanienallee 82, 10435 Berlin

We are delighted to welcome Scott to Berlin and ELTABB. He will be running a workshop (blurb below) and also be put in the spotlight for your burning questions.

Scott’s workshop will be followed by lunch and our annual general meeting. This is an important event for ELTABB and a chance for the current board to update you on the happenings of the year and to vote in a new board.

Fossilization: is it terminal, doctor?

It’s a truism, perhaps, that many learners reach a ‘plateau’, beyond which no amount of instruction or use seems able to budge them. Are there any (psycholinguistic, sociolinguistic) grounds for believing that this so-called fossilization is terminal? What does it take to move a learner beyond the plateau? Based on my own experience of attempting to kick-start my fossilized Spanish, as well as a close reading of the research literature, I will look at the role of such factors as intensive classroom instruction, extensive reading, vocabulary memorization and real language use as possible antidotes to ‘arrested development’ in a second language. I will then draw some tentative implications in terms of classroom practice. Participants will be invited to share their own second language learning experiences.


Scott Thornbury is an associate professor on the MA TESOL program at The New School in New York. His previous experience includes teaching and teacher training in Egypt, UK, Spain, and in his native New Zealand. His writing credits include several award-winning books for teachers on language and methodology. His most recent book is Big Questions in ELT, available as an ebook from The Round. He is series editor for the Cambridge Handbooks for Language Teachers. His website is