Saturday, February 25, 2017

Self-selected free voluntary reading: The missing link in language education

S Krashen (; twitter; skrashen; facebook Stephen Krashen)
 ECIS ESLMT conference

Two views of language/literacy development
A.  The comprehension hypothesis: we acquire language when we understand it.
1.  grammar, vocabulary = RESULT of language acquisition
2.  pleasant immediately
B.  The skill building hypothesis: first learn about language, practice rules
1.  grammar, vocabulary learned first, then you can use the language
2.  delayed gratification (that never arrives)
3.  Superiority of methods based on comprehensible input:
Second/foreign language acquisition: TPR, Natural Approach, TPRS
Intermediate second/foreign language acquisition (sheltered subject matter teaching)
Literacy: success of whole language over heavy phonics methods

Special case of the comprehension hypothesis: the reading hypothesis - the source of our reading ability, writing ability (writing style), vocabulary, spelling, grammar)

The case for free voluntary reading
SSR = sustained silent reading The Fiji Island study (RRQ, 1983): Elley & Mangubhai
Big Books
year 2: larger differences, readers better in writing, listening and grammar

Richard Wright: “I bought English grammars and found them dull. I felt I was getting a better sense of the language from novels than from grammars."

Predictors of performance on the Spanish subjunctive by English speakers
subjunctive study
From: Stokes, Krashen & Kartchner, 1998

UK Study: Sullivan and Brown: Predictors of scores on vocabulary test given at age 42
1. Reading at age 42 counts, independent of reading at 16 or younger & previous vocabulary.
2. Fiction counts: high-brow and middle-brow, but not low-brow
3. Reading counts even when control for subjects' & parent education, parent occupation
Sullivan, A. & Brown, M. 2014. Centre for Longitudinal Studies, University of London

Compelling Comprehensible Input:  So interesting not aware of language, sense of time, sense of self diminishes = Flow (Csíkszentmihályi): the end of motivation
Case histories: language acquisition never the goal, but a by-product. It was the story.
1.     Paul: Cantonese & English speaker, acquired Mandarin from cartoons and lots of TV shows, movies, with no particular motivation to acquire Mandarin. (Lao, C. and Krashen, S. 2014. Language acquisition without speaking and without study.  Journal of Bilingual Education Research and Instruction 16(1): 215-221;
2.     Fink (1996/6) 12 former dyslexics. 9 published creative or scholarly works. 11 learned to read between 10-12, one in 12th grade.  “As children, each had a passionate personal interest, a burning desire to know more about a discipline that required reading … all read voraciously, seeking and reading everything they could get their hands on about a single intriguing topic."
2nd/foreign language education in terms of compellingness: traditional > TPR > Natural Approach > TPRS

The END OF MOTIVATION: It's the story that counts
Language & literacy development = by-product

The extreme pleasure of self-selected reading
"perhaps the most often mentioned flow activity in the word (Csikzentmihalyi, 1991)
-resident of Italy - when he reads, “I immediately immerse myself in the reading, and the problems I usually worry about disappear” (Massimini, Csikzentmihalyi, & Della Faye, 1992.)
- A reader interviewed by Nell (1988): “reading removes me ... from the irritations of living ... for the few hours a day I read ‘trash’ I escape the cares of those around me, as well as escaping my own cares and dissatisfactions.
- Somerset Maugham, in Nell (1988): “Conversation, after a time, bores me, games tire me, and my thoughts, which we are told are the unfailing resources of a sensible man have a tendency to run dry. Then I fly to my book as the opium-smoker to his pipe ...”
Nell: reading before you go to sleep - level of arousal increased during reading, declined just after reading below original level
- 24/26 pleasure readings read in bed “nearly every night” or “most nights” (p. 250).
“Even if I read for only five minutes, I must do it - a compulsion like that of a drug addict!”  
 “My addiction to reading is such that I almost can’t sleep without a minimum of ten minutes (usually 30-60 minutes) of reading” (Nell, p. 250).

Develops Knowledge: Stanovich & colleagues: those who read more know more about literature, history, science, have more "cultural literacy," "practical knowledge." 
Habits of mind
(1) reading quality fiction develops an expanded "capacity to identify and understand others’ subjective states" (Kidd and Castano, 2013). 
(2) fiction readers also have more tolerance for vagueness (Djikic, M., Oatley, K. & Moldoveanu, M. 2013).
Free voluntary reading & career success: “omnivorous reading in childhood and adolescence correlates positively with ultimate adult success" (Simonton, 1988)
Emery & Csikszentmihalyi (1982): impact of print-rich environment
Malcolm X:  ‘What’s your alma mater?’
Michael Faraday (1791-1867): influence of working for a bookbinder for 7 years.
Let's stop trying to "motivate" young people to read. Let's try making sure they have access to compelling reading material.

The three stages
A.   children read to regularly make superior gains in reading, vocabulary, listening.
Reach out and Read: in clinic waiting rooms in high poverty areas. free book; staff demonstrates in waiting room, physician gives a book
Mendelsohn et. al. age 4, 3 years of ROR; average of three appointments, 4 books received: Vocabulary Acquisition

Comparison n = 49)
ROR (n = 73)
national norm
% gap closed
Means adjusted for differences between the groups, e.g. mother's education, language spoken in the home, homelessness, preschool attendance, child's age.
B. Read-alouds are pleasant: Vast majority of children say that they enjoy being read to.
C. Encourages reading, which in turn promotes literacy development.
D. 2nd/Foreign language education and stage one: TPRS!

A.   the bridge: massive evidence that self-selected FVR builds literacy, knowledge
B.    Reading narrow, self-selected
As a conduit: Bishop Desmond Tutu: " … one of the things I am very grateful to (my father) for is that, contrary to conventional educational principles, he allowed me to read comics. I think that is how I developed my love for English and for reading."
STAGE THREE: ACADEMIC READING = specialized reading: in an area of your interest, to answer a question/solve a problem: Typically narrow and selective.  

Stages 2 and 3: Narrow, self-selected. 

The alternative: Formal study
- complexity: grammatical complexity, text structure complexity, vocabulary complexity & size
- failure of direct instruction in the research: always loses to free voluntary reading.
The alternative: Subject matter study.
BUT: classroom discourse is closer to conversational language than to academic language. (Biber, D. (2006). University language: A corpus-based study of spoken and written registers. New York: John Benjamins)

No comments:

Post a Comment