Monday, January 15, 2007

Krashen: Foreign Language Fever?

Sent to USA Today, Jan 11
"More children learn more than one language," (Jan 9)
presents no evidence that its headline is true, other
than claims made by the owner of private language
schools for children, hardly a disinterested source.
In addition, the claim that foreign language
acquisition is "easier" for children is
oversimplified. It is true that those who begin a
second language as children have a better chance of
sounding native than those who start as adults, but
years of research on second language acquisition has
shown that older acquirers progress more quickly than
younger acquirers in the early stages (older children
are faster than younger, adults are faster than
children), and that those who begin second languages
as adults, given enough opportunity, can reach very
high levels of proficiency in second languages.
Stephen Krashen
Professor Emeritus
University of Southern California

Krashen on bilingual education

(ed. comment: You do not need to know who Mr. Trampuz is- it is clear from Prof. Krashen's reply)

Sent to the Statesman-Journal (Salem, Oregon)
Re: Youths must be immersed in a language to learn it
(Jan 12)

Emilio Trampuz is partly right when he says you need
to be immersed in a language to acquire it. But
"immersion" alone won't do it. You can watch Japanese
TV all day and acquire nothing. What you hear and read
has to be comprehensible.
When Mr. Trampuz was a child in Chile, the Spanish
input he got was comprehensible, because he was
already well-educated, at grade level or above, in
Croatian, his first language, when he went to school.
He already knew math and science, for example, having
learned it in his first language, so math and science
classes in Spanish were at least partly comprehensible
to him.
Good bilingual programs are especially helpful for
children without this kind of background. These
programs supply subject matter instruction in the
first language, which makes the English they hear more comprehensible.
Research confirms that bilingual education works:
Nearly every scholar who has reviewed the research has concluded that bilingual education helps children acquire English more rapidly than "immersion" does.
One more thing: Contrary to Mr. Tampuz' statement,
bilingual programs do not limit English to thirty
minutes a day. In most programs, after a few years,
most of the school day is in English.
Stephen Krashen
Professor Emeritus
University of Southern California

Thursday, January 11, 2007

NNELL Winter 07 E-Notes

National Network
for early Language Learning E-Notes Winter 2007

On the National Front
Parent and School Support Makes Outstanding FLES Program Possible in Fairfax County, VA Schools across the country are looking for ways to introduce foreign language instruction to students at younger ages. One county whose world language offerings really stand out from the crowd is Fairfax County, Virginia. Eleven languages are offered: American Sign Language, Arabic, Japanese, Chinese, Korean, French, Latin, German, Russian, Italian, and Spanish. Fairfax has had immersion schools since 1989 and has 13 immersion programs currently. FLES (Foreign Language in Elementary Schools) programs were started in the late 90s. Paula Patrick, Foreign Language Coordinator, tells us that the county has proposed introduction of foreign language in 137 elementary schools. A task force advised starting with 24 schools to be phased in gradually, utilizing 12 part-time teachers. These teachers will move up from 1st grade to 2nd grade in the next year, and so on. The county will need approximately 189 teachers for the program when all is done. Fairfax County is fortunate to be near the nation’s capital, where there are many potential language teachers available. A program is being developed with local universities to support better preparation for teachers of elementary foreign language. Virginia gives a Pre-K through 12 teaching license based on course work completed in the language, or the candidate can take the Oral Proficiency Interview to demonstrate ability in the language to get an endorsement. Also, visit the National Capital Language Resource center website newsletter main page that contains additional resources for teachers at: at: Note: NNELL is pleased to announce that Paula Patrick will be serving on the NNELL Executive board as Vice President 2006-2008!
Foreign language classes for the toddler set The younger children are when they learn a foreign language, the better their chances of proficiency say a New York University professor. In affluent suburbs nationwide, parents are sending preschool-aged children to immersion programs and bilingual play groups to give them a head start on learning Chinese, Spanish and other languages The New York Times (free registration) (9/30)

Tips for a Better Parent-School Relationship
Here are 10 recommendations for better relations from educators and school-savvy parents.
The Importance of “Plurilingualism”
The following link will take you to a recent report of the British National Centre for Languages, which speaks to the importance of developing abilities in many languages in their society.
Vilnius launches 'language buses' A plan to teach people foreign languages while they travel is starting in the Lithuanian capital, Vilnius. The so-called "language buses" will play useful phrases in Lithuanian, Polish and English in an attempt to encourage people to learn new skills. The project is being funded by the European Commission. It will also be coming to buses, trams and trains all over the European Union by the end of 2006. In Hamburg, Turkish as well as English will be played on the underground; trains in Milan will play Spanish to commuters; and bus passengers in Malta and Romania can learn Italian while they are on the road. On Vilnius' trolleybuses they say one year is enough time for them to teach people how to introduce themselves, ask for directions, and - eventually - to ask if they can get off the bus. BBC News.
Foreign languages online in the UKTeens at 50 U.K. schools can choose from among 30 foreign languages and prepare for the corresponding General Certificate of Secondary Education exams on their own time, thanks to a pilot program that uses online instruction packages created by U.S. company Rosetta Stone. The initiative hopes to reverse a recent decline in the number of students studying foreign languages. The Independent (London)
British report likely to urge primaries to teach languages A British government report is expected to press for foreign language training in all primary schools and a curriculum that makes such study more engaging for secondary students. The report likely will not recommend the reversal of a controversial 2004 decision that made foreign languages optional for students beginning at age 14. The Times (London) 12/14/06

Monday, January 08, 2007

Krashen on Light Reading

Sent to American Libraries, January 5, 2007
I sympathize with David Isaacson's view ("On My Mind:
Don't Just Read ! Read Good Books! Dec. 2006) that
librarians should encourage people to read good books. Research, however, suggests that we also need to make "lighter reading" available, especially when we deal with children.
Lighter reading, it seems, is a conduit to heavier
reading, making it more attractive and more
In our research, (Ujiie and Krashen, published in
Knowledge Quest, 2002), we asked children what books
got them excited about reading for the first time,
books that Jim Trelease calls "Home Run" books. Very
few of the books mentioned were prize-winners (eg
Newbury, Caldecott).
Back in 1938, Schoonover?s research showed that
children who get involved in reading eventually choose
what experts had decided were "good books" and in 1958
LaBrant found that young readers eventually expand
their reading interests as they read more.
Similarly, in 1996 Joanne Ujiie and I reported that
middle school boys who read comic books also read
more, and read more books, than those who read less.
This is supported by a number of case histories:
Bishop Desmond Tutu, for example, wrote that reading
comic books "is how I developed my love for English
and for reading." (Quoted by Jim Trelease in the Read
Aloud Handbook).
Lighter reading, at least for children, appears to be
a conduit that makes heavier reading attractive and
Stephen Krashen