Krashen Burn

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11 thoughts on “Krashen Burn”

    1. Right Sean plus it’s insulting to all his decades of intense research. One thing – if you ask me – this is not a scholarly but a corporate attack on him for reasons that are connected to education dollars and corporate interests. Nobody would set up a website like that for purely scholarly reasons. He’s used to it.

  1. Alisa Shapiro-Rosenberg

    I was just starting to teach in the height of this Bilingual Ed debate. I started out as a bilingual teacher – so the tension was high. The naysayers could not understand that by using the L1 to develop pre-literacy and literacy skills, we kept the parents and support structures in place (extended community); that in some cases there was little to no L1 literacy (so jumping into both literacy and a new sound system was doubly challenging); that in high poverty areas there was also very little print materials (no newspapers and books at home; or library visits…)
    As I understand it, different socio-economic groups have different rates of linguistic success in their new language environment. Highly literate immigrants have an easier time than illiterate and weak literacy communities. The criticism in this horrible article that Ben posted doesn’t account for any of the reality on the ground. It’s the old bootstraps argument – ‘if you really wanted to learn English, you’d do what dear old grandpa Joe did. You’d work harder and never look back…” or some such rubbish.
    My first classroom in Chicago’s Uptown neighborhood had 35 2nd graders from 17 countries – recently arrived. None of their parents spoke English. Many worked the swing shift at hotels and such. The 2nd graders got themselves off to school in the am. I regularly brought bananas, toilet paper and socks with me to work.
    I was grateful for the ability to communicate with those Spanish speaking parents about their kids. The others (mostly southeast Asian, some Eastern European) I had to talk via a translator. Families in high stress situations trying to make ends meet, without familiar supports. Figuring out “America” from the other Spanish or Romanian-speaking hotel workers, contractors, etc.
    As I understand it there is in fact tons of data on the benefits of Bilingual Education – building L2 on the shoulders of L1.
    I guess Fake News is way older than we thought…

  2. Sean and Alisa there in Chicago – one could not say that you haven’t both gone deep into the fray. My heart is filled with pride that I am able to call myself your friend and fellow foot soldier in this battle we are all fighting on behalf of what is right and best for all Americans, all of us, even those who are just getting started as new arrivals.

  3. This website is still a thing? I figured this garbage would be dead by now. I like that you can’t comment and there is no information about the author or anything. Cowardice.

  4. Yeah Russ (and great to hear from you there in Portland!) it must have been a university teacher who wanted to pad her income bc the attacks on Krashen have been largely more political than not. Just as in climate change, the bilingual ed lobby will buy out those in academia (think: Helena Curtain, Mimi Met) whenever they can to “substantiate” their claims. Krashen’s message is also a direct attack on the multimillion dollar language textbook industry.
    Maybe the topic isn’t a thing anymore but the website seems to be still active.
    Nuggets – 121
    Blazers – 115

  5. If the Google searches I’ve done are correct, this article was written by Jill Stewart, a rather conservative columnist, for the New Times LA (now defunct) in 1998 prior to the passage of Prop 227, which essentially did away with bilingual education in California. On the same day in 2016 when President Trump was voted in, Prop 58 passed by 3-1, nullifying Prop 227 and giving California districts the right to decide whether to use a bilingual approach or not, based on what seemed best in individual situations. I agree, though, that the tone used by this reporter is overly acerbic. In the interim she has worked for Pajamas Media, now PJ Media, which bills itself as a chief source of information for the Tea Party, and prides itself on such things as bringing Dan Rather’s sins to the light of day in 2004.
    On a related note, I’m wondering what this PLC thinks about Australian John Hattie’s research and publishing, especially as it relates to his disagreements with Krashen’s theories on the value of reading. I’m asking this, not knowing if this PLC has discussed this in the past. I encourage you to check out this website and would value your feedback.

  6. Carl thank you for the insights above.
    Re: Hattie’s comments, I have all sorts of problems with them. First, the pages have a vaguely corporate feel in the way that the ACTFL pages feel corporate. Mixing a corporate mentality with education is not good.
    The basic Hattie premise as I see it in those pages is that you can consciously work on building a bigger vocabulary and it suggests ways to do that, esp. if you buy the products advertised on their site. The implication is that the goal in reading is to know more words.
    Krashen doesn’t talk so much about knowing more words. As I read him it’s not a competition to have the biggest vocabulary. That favors the privileged, the faster processors, the families that can afford to buy the products on his page.
    The basic Krashen research is that we become better readers by reading more and reading is for everyone. In fact, his book the Power of Reading is almost strange in that it discusses study after study that all say exactly the same thing – that the more you read the better a reader you become.
    So when we set out to make our students better readers we don’t set them up to do better on district tests, but just to be better readers in the language. You see where this is going. Reading is useful to people. Having a big vocabulary isn’t all that useful. Reading is about everyone. Bigger vocabulary are about the few.
    Having a big vocabulary is impressive and reflects our current goal in education to identify an elite group of people within our society and that takes us right back to Krashen’s basic point about poverty being at the root of many problems in education and in our society in general. Having a big vocabulary is impressive, but it’s not the goal.
    When walking around in France with Krashen I was not surprised that when we got panhandled Krashen’s immediate question was, “How much do you need?” and then he gave that amount to the panhandler. Made me think.
    Look at this Hattie quote from the site: “…reading more is great, but it is not an effective way to develop a richer vocabulary…” and it goes on to give reasons why.
    In short, my position on this is that Hattie is laughably incorrect in that as I see it language acquiasition is a function not of analysis by the conscious mind, but of absorption by the unconscious mind, where things happen far more quicker and more naturally, even magically, to build better readers and speakers in a way that far eclipses anything that the conscious mind could do in its mechanized, ego controlled efforts to become better than others.

    1. I actually think this is interesting because I feel that this person has made a simple error in their review of the research. I don’t think that Krashen would disagree with the findings that are presented:
      Enriching students’ vocabulary does improve their reading.
      Phonics and Comprehension strategies are not as effective as we believe them to be.
      Placing students in a Reading Recovery Program can have serious negative effects on a student’s reading.
      Guessing leads to vague understanding.
      Incidental exposure leads to about 15% pick up of new words.
      Students don’t usually look to figure out unknown words they simply keep reading.
      The issue is not in the findings it’s in their implications. Krashen knows all of this. He also knows that exposing them to a story is the best way to expose them to new vocabulary. He also knows that none of these things are inherently bad. 15% pick up is still better than most explicit teaching could ever hope to get. Getting students to be avid readers means that they will be exposed to a ton of words over and over again. It’s the long con. There is still only one way to acquire language and no amount of research can change that.

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