Monday, December 11, 2017

We should "get over Krashen" ....


Squabbles on social media
Published in Language Magazine, November 2017 (vol 17,1: 8)

The “Dear Editor” section of the September Language Magazine was dedicated to social media posts reacting to my work. 
By far the most entertaining was Robert Easterbrook’s claim that my work is old and inconsistent with brain research, and that we should therefore “get over Krashen.” As letter writer Mark Chapman points out, Easterbrook provides us with no details. In my view, a large number of studies confirm the hypotheses proposed 40 years ago, and apparent counterexamples have been dealt with (articles in www.sdkrashen.com).  I have also commented on brain research in an article in Language Magazine entitled “The White Stuff” (February 2009). 
In much friendlier commentaries, Roberto Alvira and Scarlett Ostojic suggest that comprehensible input needs to be complemented with “pushed output,” following the Comprehensible Output hypotheses proposed by Merrill Swain. I argue against this is in my book, Explorations in Language Acquisition and Use (2003, Heinemann) and also in a short paper, Krashen, S. 1998. Comprehensible output? System 26: 175-182 (available for free download at www.sdkrashen.com, section on language acquisition).


Stephen Krashen

Friday, December 8, 2017

PIRLS: The effect of phonics, poverty, and pleasure reading.

Posted on Schools Week (UK)

https://schoolsweek.co.uk/nick-gibb-is-wrong-pirls-data-does-not-support-synthetic-phonics/#comment-134699

Kevin Courtney is right about the negative influence of poverty on PIRLS tests; two of our studies confirm this. He is also right in rejecting phonics instruction as the force responsible for the recent improvement in PIRLS scores: Studies show that intensive phonics instruction only improves performance on tests in which children have to pronounce words presented in a list. Heavy phonics does not contribute to performance on tests of reading comprehension.  In fact, several scholars have concluded that knowledge of phonics rules, beyond the simplest ones, is acquired from reading. 

But Mr. Courtney is not quite right when he says that evidence shows that “a diversity of approaches” is most effective for teaching reading. Rather, the last few decades of research consistently shows that self-selected reading for pleasure has a positive and strong impact on developing literacy.  A bit of phonics (“basic phonics”) is of some help for beginning readers, but a wide variety of studies confirm that those who read more read better, have larger vocabularies, better spelling, write better, and have better control of complex grammatical constructions.  

Forget phonics screening. Support libraries, often the only source of reading materials for children living in poverty. 

Sources: 

Our studies confirm this: Predictors of PIRLS scores: Krashen, S., S. Y. Lee, and J. McQuillan. 2012. Is the library important? Multi-variate studies at the national and international level. Journal of Language and Literacy Education 8(1): 26–36; Krashen, S., Lee, S.Y. and Lao, C. 2017.  Comprehensible and Compelling: The Causes and Effects of Free Voluntary Reading.  Libraries Unlimited.

Phonics & tests of reading comprehension: Garan, E. 2001. Beyond the smoke and mirrors: A critique of the National Reading Panel report on phonics. Phi Delta Kappan 82, 7: 500–506; Krashen, S. 2009. Does intensive reading instruction contribute to reading comprehension? Knowledge Quest 37(4): 72–74. 

Phonics acquired from reading:  See, for example, the influential Becoming a Nation of Readers, published in the US in 1985 by the National Academy of Education Commission on Reading, concluded that:  “…phonics instruction should aim to teach only the most important and regular of letter-to-sound relationships … once the basic relationships have been taught, the best way to get children to refine and extend their knowledge of letter-sound correspondences is through repeated opportunities to read. If this position is correct, then much phonics instruction is overly subtle and probably unproductive” (Anderson, Hiebert, Scott and Wilkinson, 1985, p.38; Becoming A Nation of Readers.)

Those who read more: Krashen, S. 2004. The Power of Reading. Heinemann Publishing Company and Libraries Unlimited. 
Sullivan, A. and Brown, M. 2013. Social inequalities in cognitive scores at age 16: The role of reading. London: Centre for Longitudinal Studies, Institute of Education, University of London   www.cls.ioe.ac.uk





Reading for Pleasure & Test Scores. Michael Rosen is right.

Michael Rosen presents a thorough criticism of the belief, promoted by England’s Schools Minister Nick Gibb, that one kind of phonics instruction is responsible for improvement on the PIRLS by English 9 and 10 year olds.  He concludes with this statement:

“Given that the PIRLS test was a comprehension test, and given that comprehension is hugely aided by reading for pleasure, then I will make the claim that the reading of these books is also a contributory factor until such time can prove to me I'm wrong!”
http://michaelrosenblog.blogspot.co.uk/2017/12/some-thoughts-on-improvement-in-reading.html

There is overwhelming evidence that Michael Rosen is right.  Reading for pleasure is by far the most consistent and strongest predictor of performance on any reading test that involves comprehension.  This has been documented in study after study, published as professional scientific papers in journals and in books. Reading for pleasure emerges as the consistent winner in method comparison studies, correlational studies, and in case histories. 
Mr. Gibb and his staff are apparently not aware of this research. Let me help:  Of course I suggest beginning with my books (The Power of Reading; Free Voluntary Reading), but a great deal of the research is available for free at www.sdkrashen.com (section on “free voluntary reading”).
See also:
McQuillan, J. 1998. The Literacy Crisis: False Claims and Real Solutions. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann Publishing Company.

McQuillan, J. 2017. Read to Ace the SAT, New Test Taking Tips. https://www.languagemagazine.com/2017/06/read-ace-sat/

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

PIRLS and PHONICS


‘Research consistently shows that phonics ability does not influence scores on tests of comprehension,’ writes Stephen Krashen.
Published in the Guardian (letters, Thursday 7 December 2017)

England’s nine- and 10-year-olds showed a modest improvement on the 2016 Pirls (Progress in international reading literacy study) reading test, compared with 2011 scores (English pupils improve results in international reading exams, 6 December). Contrary to the assertion by school standards minister Nick Gibb, an increased emphasis on phonics does not deserve the credit. The Pirls test is a test of reading comprehension: students have to understand what they read. Research consistently shows that phonics ability does not influence scores on tests of comprehension. This is consistent with results showing high scores on phonics screening tests do not result in better reading several years later.
In our analyses of previous Pirls tests (2006 and 2011), the strongest predictors of achievement were level of poverty (negative) and the presence of a school library (positive). In our analysis of the 2006 results, amount of reading instruction was negatively related to scores; in the 2011 test, there was no relationship between amount of reading instruction and reading test scores.
Stephen Krashen
Professor emeritus, University of Southern California, Los Angeles


Sources submitted with the letter, but not published in the Guardian.
Phonics & tests of reading comprehension: Garan, E. 2001. Beyond the smoke and mirrors: A critique of the National Reading Panel report on phonics. Phi Delta Kappan 82, 7: 500–506; Krashen, S. 2009. Does intensive reading instruction contribute to reading comprehension? Knowledge Quest 37(4): 72–74. 

Predictors of PIRLS scores: Krashen, S., S. Y. Lee, and J. McQuillan. 2012. Is the library important? Multi-variate studies at the national and international level. Journal of Language and Literacy Education 8(1): 26–36; Krashen, S., Lee, S.Y. and Lao, C. 2017.  Comprehensible and Compelling: The Causes and Effects of Free Voluntary Reading.  Libraries Unlimited.


High School Graduation: The Four Year Fallacy


Sent to Education Week, Dec 5, 2017.
The improved high school graduation figure announced in “U.S. Graduation Rate Hits New All-Time High, With Gains in All Student Groups” (Dec. 4) is based on graduating in four years, or graduating "with your class." 
Announcing graduation rates based only those who graduate "on time" sends the message that there is something wrong with taking longer.  During the depression, the father of education expert Susan Ohanian went to high school every other year, working to help support the family when he wasn't in school.  

Taking longer than the usual four years during hard times is often an indication of persistence and determination, not laziness. 

Stephen Krashen
Professor Emeritus
University of Southern California
Visiting Scholar, Texas A&M International University, Laredo, Texas

original article: http://blogs.edweek.org/edweek/high_school_and_beyond/2017/12/US_graduation_rate_new_all_time_high_gains_in_all_groups.html



Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Reading is the key: Helping bilingual education reach its potential

Sent How can Texas end its bilingual teacher shortage? UNT-Dallas has an answer
Published in the Dallas Morning News, Nov, 27, 2017: https://tinyurl.com/y6w7jtse

Re: How can Texas end its bilingual education shortage? UNT-Dallas has an answer.
(Nov. 25, 2017; https://www.dallasnews.com/news/education/2017/11/25/can-texas-end-bilingual-teacher-shortage-unt-dallas-answer)

The Dallas Morning News has made an important statement in its report on the bilingual education teacher shortage. The case for bilingual education is stronger than ever: Studies have confirmed over and over that well-designed bilingual education programs do a better job in promoting academic English than do all-English “immersion” programs.

To help bilingual education reach its potential, we need to invest more in libraries and supply more reading material in English and Spanish.  Reading in the first language is the key to literacy: It is easier to learn to read in a language you understand, and this ability transfers easily to a second language. Reading is also an important source of knowledge in many different areas, including science and history, knowledge that will make classes taught in English more comprehensible.  

Our studies suggest that having a pleasure reading habit in English is nearly a guarantee of success in school. Not have a pleasure reading habit in English is nearly a guarantee of failure in American schools. 

As many of our ELLs live in poverty, often their only source of books is the library.  

Stephen Krashen

Professor Emeritus, University of Southern California
Los Angeles 90089-0031
Visiting Scholar, Texas A&M International University, Laredo, Texas

Some sources:
“…. do a better job”: McField, G. and McField, D. 2014. The consistent outcome of bilingual education programs: A meta-analysis of meta-analyses. In Grace McField (Ed.) 2014. The Miseducation of English Learners. Charlotte: Information Age Publishing. pp. 267-299.
“Reading in the first language….”: Crawford, J. and Krashen, S. 2015. English Learners in American Classrooms: 101 Questions, 101 Answers. Portland: DiversityLearningK12
“… important source of knowledge”  Krashen, S.2004. The Power of Reading. Libraries Unlimited.
“… pleasure reading habit in English…” Krashen, S. and Williams, C. 2012. Is Self-Selected Pleasure Reading the Cure for the Long-Term ELL Syndrome? A Case History. NABE Perspectives September-December 2012, p.26; Henkin, V. and Krashen, S. 2015. The home run book experience. Language Magazine 15(1): 32-25.
“Source of books”: Neuman, S. & Celano, D. (2001). Access to print in low-income and middle- income communities. Reading Research Quarterly, 36(1), 8-26.  


This letter posted at: https://tinyurl.com/yb5emdpd