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[Susan notes: Stephen Krashen reminds us that bad pedagogy, undertaken to connect with student culture, is still a foolish endeavor.]

Submitted to but not published

To the editor

Vocabulary improvement: Libraries, not rap.

Durham educators (“Learning by rapping has a different

beat.” Dec 14) apparently think that the way to

increase vocabulary is through rap tracks artificially

and awkwardly stuffed with big words (“My girl’s so

affable and amiable, she's always acting conciliatory

and agreeable. You know there's no hierarchy in our

relationship …”).

These educators need to take a look at the research.

There is overwhelming evidence that vocabulary comes

from wide, self-selected reading. People with large

vocabularies report that they developed their

vocabulary through reading, not through special

programs or gimmicks.

The first step in improving vocabulary is making sure

students have access to lots of interesting, quality

reading, have time to read, and a place to read. I

suggest Durham educators think about improving school

and public libraries before investing in an unproven


Stephen Krashen

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