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January 27, 2014

Krashen engages in debate via Japan Times

stephen-krashen.jpgEminent scholar Stephen Krashen has taken to the pages of the Japan Times to engage in what he calls a "Lively discussion (debate) ... over libraries/recreational reading."

Lively discussion in the Japan Times (Krashen vs. Chris Clancy)

My original letter:

Recreational reading will score
Published in the Japan Times, January 19, 2014
Regarding the Dec. 31/Jan. 1 article “English to get 2020 push but teachers not on the same page“: Experts have criticized Japan’s reform plan for English for not including enough hours of English instruction to accomplish its goals. They’ve also noted the lack of resources and staffing.

There is an easy way to help solve both problems and ensure that growth in English will continue after students finish school: Invest in libraries and promote recreational reading.

Study after study shows that self-selected pleasure reading results in profound gains in vocabulary, grammar, spelling and writing style in first and second languages.

Also, reading can be so pleasant that students are often eager to do it on their own. Many of these studies have been done with those acquiring English as a second language in Japan, and they have been published in scholarly journals all over the world.

I hope that the panel of experts about to be created by the education ministry will study the work of some of the prominent scholars in Japan who have done quality research in this area, including Beniko Mason, David Beglar and Atsuko Takase.

Professor Mason has reported that older English acquirers who develop a reading habit in English make impressive gains on the TOEIC (Test of English for International Communication) even without extra English classes. (One of her subjects was in his 70s!)

stephen krashen
los angeles

Clancey response to my letter

Pleasure reading presents hurdles
Published in the Japan Times, Jan 25, 2014
Having the esteemed professor emeritus Stephen Krashen contribute to the ongoing question of English education in Japan is always pleasurable. However, his letter of Jan. 16, “Recreational reading will score,” raises more questions than it answers.

Read the full post on Stephen Krashen's blog.

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