Media and comprehensible input

From Stephen Krashen's mailing list:

Two Steps to Take
Published in the Korea Times, Feb. 28, 2008
Letter to the Editor

Dear editor,

I'm writing in response to a Feb. 25 Korea Times article, "English Education Needs to Start at Earlier Ages".
Prof. Ahn Young-sop is 100 percent correct when he points out that the overemphasis on testing is hurting English language education in Korea. The situation is the same worldwide, and the only ones who profit are companies that produce the tests and test-preparation materials.

His suggestion of expanding the use of English in media also makes sense. Research in language
acquisition tells us that we acquire language when we understand what we hear and what we read, and media can provide a great deal of "comprehensible input".

Studies done over the last decade, largely in Asia, confirm that wide self-selected recreational reading has a powerful effect on English language development for students of English as a foreign language, and those who establish a reading habit in English will continue to improve as long as they keep reading.

Prof. Cho Kyung-sook of the Busan National University of Education has been an important contributor to this research. The obvious step to take is to vastly improve English collections in public libraries and school libraries.

Another obvious step to take is to increase the amount of English aural input. Fortunately, this can be done for free, through http://www.eslpod.com, which provides a wide variety of listening experiences for intermediate students of English as a foreign language.

Increasing written and aural input will be far more effective and far less expensive than other paths, such as the establishment of English villages, starting English very early, and hiring more foreign teachers.

Stephen Krashen,
Professor emeritus
University of Southern California