Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Three Options: Non-targeted input, and two kinds of targeted input

S. Krashen
March, 2017

I propose here that there are three options for targeting of grammar and vocabulary: not targeting at all, and two types of targeting.    

Nontargeted input (NT):  I argued for this option in Krashen (2013).  It rests on a corollary of the Comprehension Hypothesis: Given enough comprehensible input, all the structures and vocabulary items the acquirer is ready to acquire are present in the input, and naturally reviewed. In other words, we don't have to aim at i+1; i+1 will be there.

NT asserts that aspects of grammar will be acquired in the predictable natural order as the result of exposure to comprehensible input.

Targeted Input
With nontargeted input, unfamiliar vocabulary and unacquired grammar are made comprehensible with the help of context, linguistic and non-linguistic. There are times, however, when targeting is useful – when acquirers are or will soon be faced with tasks that require knowledge of some specific vocabulary and/or grammar that they have not yet acquired and that will not be comprehensible without special attention.

We can distinguish two kinds of targeting: The first is consistent with the "skill-building" view of language development and the second is consistent with the Comprehension Hypothesis.
Targeting 1 (T1):
1.     The goal is full mastery of the rule or vocabulary in a short time, so complete that it can be easily retrieved and used in production.
2.     The source of the items to be targeted is external, from a syllabus made by others (not the teacher).  The teacher's job when doing T1 is to find a story or activity that will provide extra exposure to and use of the target items. Thus, Targeting 1 is a way of "contextualizing" grammar or vocabulary.
3.     T1 consists of "practice" in using the target items. "Practice" generally consists of skill-building, first consciously learning the new items, and then "automatizing" them by using them in output, and getting corrected to fine-tune conscious knowledge of the rule or meaning of the word. "Automatizing" means converting explicit, or consciously learned competence into implicit, or acquired competence.  It has been argued that T1 does not result in the automatization or acquisition of language (Krashen, 1982, VanPatten, 2016). The best we can hope for with T1 is highly monitored performance.

 Targeting 2 (T2):
1. Unlike T1, the goal of T2 is comprehension of the story or activity, not full mastery of the targeted item in a short time.  It can be done in a variety of ways, e.g. via visual content (e.g. pictures), translation.
3. The source of the items to be targeted is internal; e.g. the story.
4. This kind of targeting generally results in partial acquisition, enough to understand the text. Full acquisition of the targeted item develops gradually, when the item appears in the input again and again, in other stories or activities, assuming that the targeted item is at the students' i+1.

My previous arguments (Krashen, 2013) against targeting are arguments against Targeting 1, not Targeting 2.

Note that even when a great deal of Targeting 2 is used, language acquirers will receive non-targeted comprehensible/compelling input. This is probably not the case with targeting 1.

Table 1 The contrast between targeting 1 and targeting 2

source of target



rapid mastery
Compr. Hyp.








Krashen, S. 1982. Principles and Pratice in Second Language Acquisition.  Available at www.sdkrashen.com.
Krashen, S. 2013. The Case for Non-Targeted, Comprehensible Input. Journal of Bilingual Education Research & Instruction 15(1): 102-110. Available at www.sdkrashen.com, "language acquisition" section.
VanPatten, B. 2016. Why explicit knowledge cannot become implicit knowledge. Foreign Language Annals doi:10.1111/flan.12226.

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Turning kindergarten into a kinder grind won’t make kids love to read.

Published in the Los Angeles Times, Dec. 3, 2016

"Catch-up kids" (Nov. 27) sends the message that high standards will lead to hard work and real achievement.  But there is no evidence that tougher standards lead to more learning, and no evidence showing that the Common Core standards are better at preparing children for college and career than other standards or than no standards.

The core of any successful literacy programs is enjoying stories and helping children develop a pleasure reading habit.  Scientific studies show that children who hear lots of stories and are read to become enthusiastic readers, and develop more than satisfactory levels of literacy. This can happen at any age.

Forcing young children to study flashcards in the car and spell words during family outings in order to "master" 100 words is turning kindergarten into kindergrind.  Children who develop a love of reading will master thousands of words, without suffering.

Stephen Krashen
Professor Emeritus
University of Southern California

Original article: “Catch-up kids” November 27, page B1, B4

Saturday, November 26, 2016

The value of reading and our neglect of libraries

PUBLISHED IN THE WALL STREET JOURNAL, DECEMBER 3, 2016, as "Reading is a form of nutrition to the mind."
The WSJ left out the sentence about President Obama.
“The Need to Read” agrees with a great deal of research. Studies show that fiction readers develop the capacity to empathize with others and have a greater tolerance for vagueness. Dedicated readers also develop higher levels of literacy and have more knowledge of literature, social studies, science and even practical matters.
Studies consistently show that the quality of available libraries is associated with how much reading is done. Ironically, as our knowledge of the value of reading increases, support for school and public libraries and librarians has been decreasing. Isaac Asimov’s insight is still valid: “When I read about the way in which library funds are being cut and cut, I can only think that American society has found one more way to destroy itself.”
Em. Prof. Stephen Krashen
University of Southern California
Los Angeles

Original version sent to the Wall St. Journal, November 26, 2016.

Will Schwalbe's insightful essay, "The need to read," (Nov. 25) agrees with a great deal of research: Studies show that fiction readers develop the capacity to empathize with others and have a greater tolerance for vagueness. Dedicated readers also develop higher levels of literacy and have more knowledge of literature, social studies, science and even practical matters.
In an interview in the Guardian (October 28, 2015), President Obama gave fiction the credit for his understanding that "the world is complicated and full of grays ... (and that) it's possible to connect with someone else even though they're very different from you."
Studies consistently show that library quality is associated with how much reading is done. Ironically, as our knowledge of the value of reading increases, support for school and public libraries and librarians has been decreasing.
Isaac Asimov was right in 1995 and his insight is still valid: "When I read about the way in which library funds are being cut and cut, I can only think that American society has found one more way to destroy itself."

Stephen Krashen
Professor Emeritus
University of Southern California

Original article: http://www.wsj.com/articles/the-need-to-read-1480083086


Interview with President Obama: http://www.theguardian.com/books/2015/oct/28/president-obama-says-novels-taught-him-citizen-marilynne-robinson?CMP=share_btn_tw

Fiction and literacy development: Krashen, S 2004. The Power of Reading. Heinemann and Libraries Unlimited.  Sullivan, A. & Brown, M. 2014. Vocabulary from Adolescence to Middle Age. Centre for Longitudinal Studies, University of London

Knowledge: Stanovich, K., and A. Cunningham. 1992. Studying the consequences of literacy within a literate society: the cognitive correlates of print exposure. Memory and Cognition 20(1): 51-68.
Stanovich, K. and A. Cunningham. 1993. Where does knowledge come from? Specific associations between print exposure and information acquisition. Journal of Educational Psychology, 85(2): 211-229. Stanovich, K., R. West, R., and M. Harrison. 1995. Knowledge growth and maintenance across the life span: The role of print exposure. Developmental Psychology, 31(5): 811-826. Sullivan, A. & Brown, M. (2014). Vocabulary from adolescence to middle age. London: Centre for Longitudinal Studies, University of London. West, R., and K. Stanovich. 1991. The incidental acquisition of information from reading. Psychological Science 2: 325-330. West, R., K. Stanovich, and H. Mitchell. 1993. Reading in the real world and its correlates. Reading Research QuCastano,arterly 28: 35-50.

The ability to empathize: Kidd, D. & Castano, E. (2013). Reading literary fiction improves theory of mind. Science, 342 (6156), 377-380.
Library quality: Krashen, S., Lee, S.Y. and McQuillan, J. 2012. Is the library important? Multivariate studies at the national and international level. Journal of Language and Literacy Education, 8(1): 26-36; Krashen (2004), op. cit. Studies by Keith Curry Lance and associates at http://www.lrs.org/impact.php).
Library support: Henderson, E. and Lonegran, J. 2011. Majority of states report decline in support for library services. Institute for Museum and Library Services. Kachel, D. 2015. School libraries are under attack. The New Republic, July 23.
Asimov Quote: Asimov, I. (1995) I, Asimov. Random House.

Friday, November 18, 2016

actfl plenary 2016

Stephen Krashen  www.sdkrashen.com, skrashen (twitter)

The comprehension hypothesis: We acquire language when we understand what we hear or read: "skills" (grammar, vocabulary) are the RESULT.  (win-win)
Rival: Skill-building hypothesis: we first learn rules consciously, practice them in ouput, get correction. Rules become automatic; someday we can use the language. (lose-lose)

Evidence for the Comprehension Hypothesis
Method comparisons:
1 beginning foreign language: 17 studies published in IRAL, MLJ, FLAnnals, Hipania
2 sheltered: 5 studies, in TESL Canada, CMLR, Language Learning, SSLA
3 sustained silent reading
Comprehensible input-based methods versus traditional methods.
Meta-analysis:Sustained Silent Reading: second language acquisition
Jeon & Day, 2014: For vocabulary (17 studies), d = .47; RC =  (46 studies), d = .54
Jeon, E-Y., and Day, R. 2016. The effectiveness of ER on reading proficiency: A meta-analysis. Reading in a Foreign Language 28(2): 246-265. http://nflrc.hawaii.edu/rfl/
Evidence: Correlational studies
Predictors of performance on the Spanish subjunctive by English speakers
subjunctive study
Stokes, Krashen & Kartchner, 1998 Factors in the acquisition of the present subjunctive in Spanish: The role of reading and study. ITL: Review of Applied Linguistics 121-122:19-25. http://www.sdkrashen.com/articles.php?cat=6

Predictors of TOEFL scores: multiple regression (EFL)
extracurricular reading
native speaker teacher
total instruction
extracurricular speaking
Gradman, H. and Hanania, E. (1991) Language learning background factors and ESL proficiency. Modern Language Journal 75, 39-51.
Predictors of TOEFL scores: multiple regression (ESL);
free reading/books read
English study/home
Length of residence US
From; Constantino, Lee, Cho & Krashen, 1997. Free voluntary reading as a predictor of TOEFL scores. Applied Language Learning 8: 111-118.

Lee, 2005: Amount of reading predicts scores on writing test, college EFL amount of writing does not. (Lee, S. Y. 2005. Facilitating and inhibiting factors on EFL writing: A model testing with SEM. Language Learning 55 (2), 335-374)

Beniko Mason: 1.0 = .6: one hour of reading > .6 gain on the TOEIC: 250 > 950 in 1220 hrs
(Mason, B. M. & Krashen, S. 2015. Can second language acquirers reach high levels of proficiency through self-selected reading?  IJFLT 10(2)
Summary of correlational studies
Stokes et al

Gradman & Hannania
Constantino et al

SY Lee


Case Histories: Vaupes River, Armando, Lomb Kato (Krashen, S. 2014. Case Histories and the Comprehension Hypothesis. TESOL Journal (www.tesol-journal.com), June, 2014)

Explains best use of the first language: When it makes input more comprehensible; eg success of bilingual programs.  (McField, G. & McField, D. 2014.  The consistent outcome of bilingual education programs: A meta-analysis of meta-analyses. In G. McField (Ed.) The Miseducation of English Learners. Charlotte: Information Age Publishing. pp. 267-299.)

Grammar instruction: Strict limits on the learning, use of grammar: Know the rule, think about correctness, time: (Krashen, S. 1982. Principles and Practice in Second Language Acquisition, www. sdkrashen.com).
Studies claiming effect of grammar obey these conditions. (Krashen, S. 1999. Foreign Language Annals 32(2): 245-257; Krashen, S. 2003. Explorations in Language Acquisition and Use: The Taipei Lectures. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann.)

Error correction: obvioius effect only when conditions for grammar are met: focus on simple rule,  thinking about correctness, tme. (exclude revision studies, immediate response)
{Truscott, 2007 The effect of error correction on learners' ability to write accurately. Journal of Second Language Writing 16: 235-272. Truscott, J. (1999). What’s wrong with oral grammar correction. Canadian Modern Language Review, 55, 437–456.)

1.     No correlation between amout of spealing, writing and competence 
2.     Not enough output (Krashen, S. 1994. The input hypothesis and its rivals. N. Ellis (Ed.) Implicit and Explicit Learning of Languages  Academic Press. pp. 45-77.)
3.     Comprehensible output? Krashen, 2003, Explorations (Heinemann): not enough, no expirical stupport; acquisition happens without it, pushed output is uncomfortable
4.     Adding writing to reading does not increase the effect (Mason, B. 2004 The effect of adding supplementary writing to an extensive reading program. IJFLT 1(1), 2-16
5.     What writing is for.

Monday, November 14, 2016

To improve school performance, protect children from the effects of poverty

Sent to the New York Post, November 14, 2016

F. H. Buckley says he knows "How Trump can make American schools great again." (Nov. 13): Vouchers and competition.  But American schools are quite good: A number of serious scientific studies have shown that our unspectacular international test scores are due to our very high rate of child poverty, now 21%, the highest of all industrialized countries. In New York City, it is 31%.
When researchers statistically control for the effect of poverty, American test scores are near the top of the world. This suggests that there is no serious problem with our teachers, our schools of education, or our teachers' unions. The problem is poverty.
Children living in poverty suffer from food deprivation, lack of adequate medical care, and have little access to books. Each of these has a strong negative effect on school performance.
Until we manage to make substantial progress in reducing poverty, we can easily protect children against some of its effects by improving school food programs, investing more in school nurses, and investing more in school libraries and librarians. 
We can pay for a great deal of this by eliminating unnecessary testing. Instead of weighing the animal more frequently and more precisely, let’s feed it.

Stephen Krashen


Child poverty: Levels of child poverty: UNICEF Innocenti Research Centre (2012), ‘Measuring Child Poverty: New league tables of child poverty in the world’s rich countries’, Innocenti Report Card 10, UNICEF Innocenti Research Centre, Florence.
New York City: http://www.cccnewyork.org/blog/new-census-data-shows-increase-in-child-poverty-in-nyc/

Control for the effect of poverty: Carnoy, M and Rothstein, R. 2013, What Do International Tests Really Show Us about U.S. Student Performance. Washington DC: Economic Policy Institute. 2012. http://www.epi.org/). Payne, K. and Biddle, B. 1999. Poor school funding, child poverty, and mathematics achievement. Educational Researcher 28 (6): 4-13; Bracey, G. 2009. The Bracey Report on the Condition of Public Education. Boulder and Tempe: Education and the Public Interest Center & Education Policy Research Unit. http://epicpolicy.org/publication/Bracey-Report;

Impact of poverty of school performance: Berliner, D. 2009. Poverty and Potential:  Out-of-School Factors and School Success.  Boulder and Tempe: Education and the Public Interest Center & Education Policy Research Unit. http://epicpolicy.org/publication/poverty-and-potential;   Krashen, S. 1997. Bridging inequity with books. Educational Leadership  55(4): 18-22.