Sunday, April 6, 2014

Extensive reading: good for old folks

Sent to the Japan Times, April 5, 2014

Prof. Matthew Claftin's successful effort to improve the English book collections in the Iwakura Public Library is an important step forward in English Education ("Read up on ways that can help us learn English," April 6).  There is overwhelming evidence that extensive self-selected reading is the major source of advanced vocabulary and grammar in both first and second languages and leads to better reading and writing.

Prof. Claftin is right about the positive impact of extensive reading older people. Prof. Beniko Mason of Shitennoji University in Osaka has done a series of studies with former EFL students who engaged in extensive English reading on their own, after completing Prof. Mason's EFL class. All made excellent progress on the TOEIC test, making better gains per hour of reading than students typically do in standard TOEIC test-preparation classes. One of her subjects was 75 years old, another was 66.
Stephen Krashen

Original article:

Overwhelming evidence: Krashen, S. 2004. The Power of Reading. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann, and Westport, CONN: Libraries Unlimited (second edition).
Beniko Mason case studies:
Mason, B. (2011). Impressive gains on the TOEIC after one year of comprehensible input, with no output or grammar study. The International Journal of Foreign Language Teaching, 7(1).
Mason, B. (2013). Substantial gains in listening and reading ability in English as a second language from voluntary listening and reading in a 75 year old student. The International Journal of Foreign Language Teaching, 8(1), 25-27.
Mason, B. (in press). The case of Mr. Kashihara: Another case of substantial gains in reading and listening without output or grammar study, Shitennoji University (IBU) Journal.

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