Thursday, March 30, 2017

Libraries and librarians: What does the research say?

Published in the Chicago Tribune, March 31, 2017

Sam Weller's strong defense of libraries includes this statement:  "District superintendents, senior administrators and bean counters with the ability to slash jobs apparently don't get it."  (“Without school librarians, we’re on a dystopian path.” March 30.)

The bean counters and administrators should be the first ones to understand the value of school libraries and librarians: Study after study has shown that better school libraries and the presence of credential school librarians are related to better reading achievement, as measured by standardized tests.  Keith Curry Lance's research has shown this for several states in the US, and our research term has confirmed his results for libraries in over 40 different countries.

Isaac Asimov was right in 1995 and his insight is still valid: "When I read about the way in which library funds are being cut and cut, I can only think that American society has found one more way to destroy itself."

Stephen Krashen
Professor Emeritus
University of Southern California

Krashen, S., Lee, S.Y. and McQuillan, J. 2012. Is the library important? Multivariate studies at the national and international level. Journal of Language and Literacy Education, 8(1): 26-36.
Studies by Keith Curry Lance and associates at
Asimov Quote: Asimov, I. (1995) I, Asimov. Random House.
Original article:

Hat-tip: Hilda Weisburg

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

language acquisition from input

Sent to The Scientific American
March 29, 2017

I was very excited to read Veronique Greenwood's "Learn a new lingo while doing something else," describing research showing that listening makes a profound contribution to the learning of speech sounds.

Scientific American readers might be interested in knowing that we have been publishing evidence for the last 40 years showing that first and second language acquisition, as well as literacy development, takes place through listening and reading (input): The ability to speak and write is a result of language acquisition. In agreement with the studies described by Ms. Greenwood, we have found that that language acquisition happens subconsciously. 

Those of us involved in research probably spend too much time scolding others for not paying attention to our results.  Professor Melissa Baese-Berk and her colleagues, who did the accent studies, have every reason now to scold me and my associates for not discovering and citing their work.

Stephen Krashen
Professor Emeritus
University of Southern California

Website, with publications (free download):
Original article:

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Read because you want to: Santa Monica Daily Press

Published in the Santa Monica Daily Press (California), March 22 2017
"Literacy at the Library" (March 18) tells us that the Santa Monica Public Library offers a truly astonishing menu of programs and services: tutoring, story-time, classes, films, etc. 
Buried deep in the article is the library's most valuable contribution: Books for pleasure reading. In hundreds of scientific reports, our research over the last 40 years has confirmed that recreational reading, or "reading because you want to" is by far the best way to improve reading ability, writing ability, vocabulary, grammar, and even spelling.  Research also shows that those who do more pleasure reading know more about history, and science, and even have more practical knowledge.
Contrary to the recent push for nonfiction in the schools, researchers from the UK recently reported that reading fiction was a better predictor of vocabulary size than reading non-fiction, and that reading at any age boosts vocabulary knowledge.
All the programs offered by the library are valuable, but it needs to be emphasized that the Santa Monica Library has a very good book collection.  For many families with limited means, the library is the only source of reading material. 
Stephen Krashen

Member, Santa Monica Public Library
Member, The American Library Association
Professor Emeritus, University of Southern California
Author of The Power of Reading (2004, second edition), Free Voluntary Reading (2011), both published by Libraries Unlimited.
original article:
this letter: