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December 03, 2003

Krashen vs. Childs

Yesterday's Daily Yomiuri also included a letter to the editor from famed linguist and author Stephen Krashen. It was a response to an article by Marshall Childs that appeared in the newspaper last week. Titled "No need for parents to talk to kids in English," it read as follows:

"I understand parents' desires to "raise tots to be multilingual" (The Practical Linguist, No. 28), but there is no need for Japanese-speaking parents to talk to their children in English. The advantages are slight and can be had elsewhere, and there are dangers.

By far the easiest way to make sure children master other languages are good programs in school - programs that fill the classroom hour with interesting projects, games, and discussions, and that provide children with lots of interesting reading, including comics, magazines and good novels.
Our research strongly supports this approach, but most foreign-language programs hold on to painful and inefficient methods that overemphasize grammar and memorization of vocabulary.

Those who take a great deal of pleasure reading in a second language automatically develop a large vocabulary as well as high levels of grammatical accuracy.

The research also tells us that there is no need to begin super-early; in fact, those who begin second languages later progress faster. It is more efficient to start at age 10 than at age 5.

Parents' use of a foreign language with their children can backfire when the parents do not speak the language well and communication is imperfect. Imperfect parent-child communication can cripple emotional and intellectual development. It isn't worth taking the chance."

Stephen Krashen, Los Angeles
Daily Yomiuri article

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