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[Susan notes: Here's a real-life story of how kids gain strong vocabularies. Surprise, surprise: It doesn't involve flash cards.]

Submitted to Orange County (CA) Register but not published

To the editor

Sent to the Orange County (CA) Register, January 30

Re: "No loss for words," January 28

According to the Register, nine-year-old Meadow Park vocabulary champion Sam Girvin has had several kinds of experiences that could be the reason for his magnificent vocabulary: He has lived in Japan, where he acquired some Japanese, he has played scrabble with his uncle, a scrabble champion, his parents use "longer words" in talking to him and he is a voracious reader, reading 100 pages per day during the week and 200 pages on the weekend. Register readers might be interested in knowing that scientific research points to reading as the major source of vocabulary knowledge beyond the basics. Cornell University researchers Donald Hayes and Margaret Ahrens, for example, have concluded that development of a large vocabulary "requires literacy and extensive reading across a broad range of subjects." A great deal of research also confirms that reading is more effective and efficient than direct vocabulary instruction; it is of great interest that Sam Girvin does not do vocabulary exercises and flash cards. Educators have much to learn from Sam.

Stephen Krashen, Emeritus Professor, USC

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