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[Susan notes: Libraries, libraries, libraries. We can't say it often enough.]

Published in Taipei Times

To the editor

I strongly agree with those who feel that hiring foreign teachers at high salaries is not the way to improve English teaching in Taiwan ("A band-aid solution for English-language learning," Sept. 5, page17).

Nicole Hsieh and Julie Kosolofski are certainly correct to emphasize the need for smaller classes and more opportunity to converse. But if Taiwan is interested in making the maximum improvement in the most efficient way, the first step is better libraries, stocked with interesting and comprehensible English books and magazines, and eventually with films and tapes.

There is overwhelming research showing that recreational reading in a second language is a powerful means of improving grammar, vocabulary, spelling and writing ability -- and it is far more efficient and far more pleasant than traditional instruction. A good library will help local teachers improve their English as well. The money the Ministry of Education is willing to invest in foreign teachers would be better invested in stocking libraries.

Stephen Krashen

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