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[Susan notes: It's always good to catch a newspaper doing something right. Everyone should take note that this "is one of the most widely replicated results in educational research"--but ignored by so many.]

Submitted to Japan Times but not published

To the editor

English: A suggestion

The Japan Times has it right: Money should be investing in teaching English, not testing it ("Testing English versus teaching it." March 31).

Here is a suggestion that will save money and give excellent results. Instead of investing money on expensive standardized testing, invest in English libraries, filled with interesting and comprehensible reading material that students are really interested in reading, including novels, graphic novels, and comics, magazines. Research done throughout the world confirms that those who read more read better, write better, have larger vocabularies and more control of complex grammar. Research also strongly suggests that doing a great deal of "light reading" provides the competence that makes "heavier" and more "serious" reading more comprehensible.

This is true in first language and second language, and is one of the most widely replicated results in educational research.

Of great interest to Japan is the fact that a good deal of some of the compelling research in this area has been done in Japan, with Japanese adults acquiring English as a foreign language: Professor Beniko Mason of Shitennoji University has confirmed this result in many studies done over the last few decades. Here most recent studies show that those who do mostly or even only self-selected reading in English made outstanding progress on standardized tests such as the TOEIC and TOEFL, gaining far more rapidly than those who do traditional study.

Stephen Krashen

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