Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Fiction: The hottest topic of all?

Published in Literacy Today, Jan/Feb 2016 (vol 33, number 4)

The Sept/Oct 2015 of Literacy Today  contains somewhat contradictory messages: reading "informational texts" is considered "a hot topic" that "should be hot," a view that coincides with the common core's heavy focus on nonfiction ("What's hot in 2016").  Fiction is not mentioned.

But college student Brandon Dixon ("Literacy is the answer") tells us that fiction has made the difference in his life, contributing not only to his knowledge of the world but also to his ethical development and understanding of other people's views. 

Mr, Dixon is not alone. In a recent interview in the Guardian (October 28), President Obama gives fiction the credit for his understanding that "the world is complicated and full of greys ... (and that) it's possible to connect with someone else even though they're very different from you."

Research solidly supports both Mr. Dixon's and President Obama's conclusions:  Studies confirm that fiction readers develop high levels of literacy, a great deal of knowledge in many different areas, the capacity to empathize with others and a greater tolerance for vagueness. In a recent study from the University of London, fiction reading was a very strong predictor of adult vocabulary knowledge, stronger than reading non-fiction.

With these powerful testimonies, supported by empirical evidence,  fiction should be a hot topic in literacy, maybe the hottest one of all.

Stephen Krashen

Sources

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 Quarterly 28: 35-50.

The ability to empathize: Kidd, D. & Castano, E. (2013). Reading literary fiction improves theory of mind. Science, 342 (6156), 377-380.

Tolerance for vagueness:  Djikic, M., Oatley, K. & Moldoveanu, M. (2013). Opening the closed mind: The effect of exposure to literature on the need for closure. Creativity Research Journal, 25(2), 149-154.

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Reducing Testing: Credit where credit is due


Sent to USA Today, October 25, 2015

The "Obama plan" to reduce testing in schools is welcome, and it is gratifying to know that the administration is taking at least some of the blame for over-testing our children (“Obama plan limits standardized testing to more more than 2% of class time, Oct. 24).

USA Today might consider giving some of the credit for this welcome shift to those who made it happen: United Opt Out, a group of parents, educators, students and activists who have worked tirelessly to inform the public of the problems with over-testing and to inform parents of their right to refuse testing for their children. 

USA Today might also consider giving some credit to scholars who have carefully documented the negative impact of over-testing, including Aflie Kohn, whose book, The Case Against Standardized Testing was published in 2000 and Susan Ohanian, who wrote One Size Fits Few, published in 1999. 

This has been a long struggle.

Stephen Krashen

original article: http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/2015/10/24/obama-schools-test/74536886/

Don't ignore vocational education

Published in  South China Morning Post, October 28, 2015 as "Need good plumbers and philosophers"

Paul Yip is concerned about the overemphasis on examinations and preparation for the university in Hong Kong schools, and the lack of emphasis on vocational education ("Poverty rate has fallen, but has quality of life risen in HK?" October 24).  The same unfortunate trend exists in the United States. 

Former US Secretary of Heath, Education and Welfare John Gardner warned us of the consequences of this policy:

"The society which scorns excellence in plumbing as a humble activity and tolerates shoddiness in philosophy because it is an exalted activity will have neither good plumbing nor good philosophy: neither its pipes nor its theories will hold water."

Stephen Krashen
Professor Emeritus
University of Southern California



Original article:  http://www.scmp.com/comment/insight-opinion/article/1871276/hong-kongs-poverty-rate-may-have-fallen-has-peoples-quality



Monday, October 12, 2015

Handout: Conference on Extensive Reading in Japanese, Oct. 3, 2015, USC

The Power of Reading and the Compelling Input Hypothesis
S Krashen (www.sdkrashen.com; twitter; skrashen; facebook Stephen Krashen)


Two views of language/literacy development
A.  The comprehension hypothesis: we acquire language when we understand it.
1.  grammar, vocabulary = RESULT of language acquisition
2.  pleasant immediately
B.  The skill building hypothesis: first learn about language, practice rules
1.  grammar, vocabulary learned first, then you can use the language
2.  delayed gratification (that never arrives)

Special case of the comprehension hypothesis: the reading hypothesis - reading is the source of our reading ability, writing ability (writing style), vocabulary, spelling, grammar)
Most powerful form = free voluntary reading (FVR) – some recent evidence

Correlational studies:

The UK Study: Sullivan and Brown: Predictors of scores on vocabulary test given at age 42

max % incr
Comment
parent occupation
0.1

parent education
0.5

newspapers in home at age 16
0.7
tabloid only - negative
book reading at 16
1.8**
more than once a week
read as child
3.5**
Often
musical instrument at 10
.6*
yes or no
musical instrument at 16
-0.6
not significant
vocabulary size results


age 5
.1**

age 10
.2**

age 16
.3***

education at age 42
2.2**

occupation at age 42
3.5**
readsbooks every day
fiction at age 42: high-brow
5.3**

factual books at 42: high-brow
3*

newspapers at 42
1.2*
tabloid only - negative
musical instrucment at 42
1.2*
yes or no
1. Reading at age 42 counts, independent of reading at 16 or younger and previous vocabulary scores.
2. Fiction counts
3. Music counts a little. Reading counts more.
4. Reading counts even when you control for parent occupation and parent education.
5. reading counts more than your own education, AND is independent of your educational level
Note also middle-brow fiction does well: 3.4%, but low-brow only .8%.
Sullivan, A. and Brown, M. 2014. Vocabulary from Adolescence to Middle Age. Centre for Longitudinal Studies, University of London


Predictors of TOEFL scores: multiple regression (EFL)
Predictor
Beta
extracurricular reading
0.53
native speaker teacher
0.43
total instruction
-0.21
extracurricular speaking
-0.2
From: Gradman & Hanania, 1991

Krashen and Mason (forthcoming): Seven subjects in Japan did independent self-selected reading in English and took the TOEIC pre and post. Ages 21 to 78! Duration 22 to 162 weeks.  Gains in terms in terms of points gained per hour on the TOEIC = .62 pts/hour
To move from 250 to 950 TOEIC score; one hour per day of PLEASURE READING for three years (about 1200 hours).

SSR (sustained silent reading)

The Fiji Island study (RRQ, 1983): Elley & Mangubhai: gains in RC
grade
ALM
SSR
Big Books
4
6.5
15
15
5
2.5
9
15
year 2: larger differences, readers better in writing, listening and grammar

Evidence from English as a foreign language  (Krashen, 2007, ijflt.com)
Study
N
titles
titles/S
duration
ES Cloze
ES RC
Yuan & Nash, 1992
37
200
5.4
one year
0.38

Sims, 1996
30
550
18.3
 one year

0.81
Sims, 1996
30
550
18.3
one year

0.65
Mason retakers
30
100
3.3
one sem
0.702

Mason Jr college
31
200
6.4
one year
1.47

Mason university
40
200
5
one year
1.11

Mason: response L1
40
550
13.75
one year
0.24
0.61
Mason: response L2
36
550
15.28
one year
0.63
0.48
Lituanas et al, 2001
30


6 months

1.7
Bell, 2001
14
2000
142.9
one year
1.31
3.14
Sheu, 2003
31
57
1.84


0.71
Sheu, 2003
34
55
1.62


1.04
Lee, 2005a
65
215
3.3
12 weeks
0.24

Hsu & Lee, 2005
47
354
7.5
one year
0.58

K. Smith, 2006
51
500
9.8
one year
0.47
0.39
Lee, 2006
41
1200
29.3
one year
1.02

Hsu & Lee, 2007
47
500
10.6
3 years


K. Smith, 2007
41
500
12.2
one year
0.56

           Liu, 2007
46
450
9.8
one year
1.59



Hitosugi, C. I. and Day, R. 2004. Extensive reading in Japanese. Reading in a Foreign Language 16(1): 1-17.
Second semester students of Japanese, university level: 10 weeks
children's books, filled out "reaction reports" (rating the books), required = 10% of grade, one day/wk of ER-related activities in class (eg creating sentences using words in the story), reading done as homework.
Far superior to comparisons in 1/3 tests of reading comprehension (most difficult part; traditional reading comprehension), no difference on one test, less gain on another.
Showed better attitudes than comparisons
-       less need to use dictionary, even though they encountered harder texts than comparisons
-       more likely to read Japanese books, comics, newspapers, watch Japanese TV outside of class
One student: improved relationship with grandmother; they started reading books together
Another student: was "marginal" but read 40 books and became more enthusiastic.

Case histories

Goeffrey Canada: "I loved reading, and my mother, who read voraciously too, allowed me to have her novels after she finished them. My strong reading background allowed me to have an easier time of it in most of my classes."

Liz Murray (Breaking Night): "Any formal education I received came from the few days I spent in attendance, mixed with knowledge I absorbed from random readings of my or Daddy's ever-growing supply of unreturned library books. And as long as I still showed up steadily the last few weeks of classes to take the standardized tests, I kept squeaking by from grade to grade."

Bishop Desmond Tutu: “One of the things I am most grateful to (my father) for is that, contrary to educational principles, he allowed me to read comics. I think that is how I developed my love for English and for reading.”

Richard Wright: “I wanted to write and I did not even know the English language. I bought English grammars and found them dull. I felt I was getting a better sense of the language from novels than from grammars."
Leung, C. Y. 2002. Extensive reading and language learning: A diary study of a beginning learner of Japanese.  Reading in a Foreign Language 14(1)
1.adult native speaker of Cantonese, with little background in Japanese, attempts to acquire Japanese through reading: in 20 weeks, read 32 books, 1,260 pages of simple text. 483 from comic books, 170 pages from children storybooks (10 sentences per page). About one hour per day = 100 hours?
2.obvious vocabulary growth, but gradual
3.hardest part: finding books to read (Also Hitosgi and Day, above)
4.rereading helpful (because texts were hard)
5.led to trying to read environmental Japanese

Compelling Comprehensible Input:  So interesting not aware of the language, sense of time, self diminishes = Flow (Csíkszentmihályi).
Case histories: language acquisition never the goal, but a by-product. It was the story.
1.     Jack, Mandarin heritage language speaker: Stories of A Fanti led to improvement, but only when stories were available (Lao & Krashen, IJFLT, 2008).
2.     Paul: Cantonese & English speaker, acquired Mandarin from cartoons and lots of TV shows and movies, with no particular motivation to acquire Mandarin.
3.     Fink (1996/6) 12 people considered dyslexic. 9 published creative or scholarly works, one Nobel laureate. 11 learned to read between 10-12, one in 12th grade.   “As children, each had a passionate personal interest, a burning desire to know more about a discipline that required reading … all read voraciously, seeking and reading everything they could get their hands on about a single intriguing topic."
Our development of academic language.
THREE STAGES to academic/specialized language development: compelling comprehensible input
ONE: Read alouds, storytelling: overwhelming research support for vocabulary, listening comprehension, interest in books
TWO: free voluntary reading: the bridge between conversational and academic (specialized) language.
THREE: Academic Reading:  COMPELLING, SELF-SELECTED, NARROW reading of academic texts of great interest to the reader
Reading the main source, not the classroom: (Biber, 2006: classroom discourse is closer to conversational language than to academic language).
Can academic/specialized language proficiency be “learned”? 

Compelling CI and language teaching
An increase in compelling CI: traditional, TPR, Natural Approach, TPRS (stories and personalization)
More compelling > more tolerance for noise, less need for "transparency"
Anxiety reduced, may disappear.
The end of "motivation"?


Krashen, S. 2014. Case Histories and the Comprehension Hypothesis. TESOL Journal (www.tesol-journal.com), June, 2014
Krashen, S. 2015. The end of motivation. New Routes, 55: 34-35.  www.disal.com.br/newr/
Lao, C. and Krashen, S. 2014. Language acquisition without speaking and without study.  Journal of Research of Bilingual Education Research and Instruction  16(1): 215-221.
(available at www.sdkrashen.com, "language acquisition" section")