Sent to the Taipei Times, April 22,2018
I was surprised to discover that the Taiwan Ministry of Education will prioritize “listening and speaking skills” in English language education, and that they will encourage students to “first listen, then speak , then write” (Robert Dildine, “Education Magic,” Letter to the Editor, April 22, referring to a report in Taipei Times, “A long road to improving education,” Jan 24).
The Ministry forgot something: Reading. Research over the last 40 years has confirmed that we acquire language by understanding what we hear and read, and that the ability to speak and write is the result of listening and reading. Study after study confirms that listening and reading need to come before speaking and writing.
The Ministry might want to do some reading themselves and get familiar with this research. The annual English Teachers Association meeting in Taipei typically includes many reports from Taiwan’s scholars and teachers confirming that reading, especially self-selected reading, results in impressive gains in vocabulary, writing, grammar, spelling, and of course reading ability. In fact, time spent reading results in better progress in these areas than time spent in traditional teaching.
Stephen Krashen, Professor Emeritus
University of Southern California, School of Education