I am totally bowled over – having just finished listening to Steven Krashen speaking at Yildiz Technical University in Istambul
Practically everything he said resonated with my own experience of language learning and teaching, so much so in fact that I’m even putting my notes here!
He spoke of the EFL war which is going on – a great fight since no matter who wins we learn things
In the right corner the Skill Building Hypothesis (actually an axiom of our trade)
Learn the words, the grammar, the structures and you will little by little understand more and more
In the left corner The Comprehension Hypothesis
The way we acquire language is by understanding it when we read/listen (reading most important though) the grammar we need “comes with” the language.
That reading helps most, i.e.that FREE VOLONTARY READING helps most, is actually backed up by research (lots of docs available here on Krashen’s site)
There is simply too much grammar/vocab to learn – grammarians don’t know all the rules (perso: in fact language doesn’t follow rules, grammarians just try to describe it, but are not always spot on)
Non native speakers who read a lot probably have a greater vocab than native speakers who don’t read. (thinking of some well known people)
Case study of guy in Brooklyn who learnt Yiddish “spontaneously” – whose level tested by Krashen (“you two talk about what you did last night” , then took recording of conversation to consulate for 4 native speakers to give their impression of his Yiddish) was rated from very high to native. The guy know nothing about the grammar/structure of the language
S.K. then compared learning a language to eating You know you need a balanced diet – you don’t think “I need more vitamin B3”
Easy to give comprehensible input – usually not interesting (that’s school)
Easy to give interesting input – which is not comprehensible (that’s the world)
And it not enough for the input to be just interesting … it has to be compelling – the reader gets in the flow and doesn’t consider the language (this corresponds exactly to my personal experience – in 5 weeks’ total immersion though)
Another example of 8yr old in the US on Mandarin Chinese programme – not interested … “déclic” with a book (mother read it to him). His Mandarin improved greatly while the book was being read (and level dropped again afterwards)
Most people not interested in language acquisition (that’s the teachers) they’re interested in the story.
2 ways – reading MUST BE SELF SELECTED
NARROW READING >> one genre, one author
3 stages: lots of stories, followed by free reading on your own, WHY did I note here “ESP doesn’t work” instead of 3rd stage :-0 …well, that’s because I was thinking “and what about when the “s” is absolutely compelling”
Gives his own case as case study . Read to as a child – reading for pleasure = comic books followed by science fiction followed by one author’s novels based on baseball.
At the same time, read things in school of course, but has forgotten what that was … quick jump to University, since it all started in Grad school >> Chomsky
SK read everything Chomsky had written, and read it in chronological order – (see problems arise and solved) then again same experience with one experimental scientist (name?) In this way he learnt the academic style.(narrow reading, for pleasure (the “s” in special purposes) one genre one author)
Is the computer compatible with comprehensible input?
People spend lots of time on FB – the jury’s still out BUT
using FB means lots of reading AND writing … writing pushes cognitive development
Again – can ref the research showing more use of internet = more literacy (sorry I don’t have the ref here –his site will need a lot of time!)
Internet provides GREAT POTENTIAL to share stories produced by other children. Everytime you ask a class to write a story, there’s always 2 or 3 good stories … putting them online creates a library of comprehensible input
Also makes possible narrow listening – especially with video potential – listen to other students in the rest of the world
Potential of computers can be misused – details of the “Rosetta Stone” problem (boring – uses grammar tests to prove validity of method – no peer reviewed studies – independent study> students dropped out after 10 hrs)
Another “baddie” in US “Accelerated Reader” (in 2 out of 3 schools) prones choice of books and 1 hr day reading then do online test – scores above 60% give points > prizes at the end of the year.
1st & 2nd points good .. but what proof of Points and Prizes helping, especially since all the tests compare this AR programme with doing nothing … but in fact AR could be creating problem of Punishment by rewards
Highly recommends EDLpod
I listened to a couple – and guess what … they’re great – the speaker speaks slowly, but doesn’t deform the words or intonation – Free to listen to with basic transcript – Starts at $10 a wider service.