"A child's learning is the function more of the characteristics of his classmates than those of the teacher." James Coleman, 1972

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Irresponsible journalism

Submitted to USA Today (Dec. 28)

To the editor:

There have been thousands of research studies done in the last 50 years on how we learn foreign languages, published in reputable scientific journals and books.  Using case histories, experiments and correlational studies, researchers have examined topics such as which methods are more efficient, the role of listening and reading as compared to speaking and writing, the impact of correction and formal grammar study, and the role of personality and motivation.

"Easy ways to study foreign languages" (December 26) included none of this rich storehouse of knowledge, presenting  only the opinions of one (junior) reporter. 

I understand that the writer is a "college contributor." The fault is with the USA Today editors for not providing guidance.  Editors would never allow a reporter to give advice on how to treat cancer without insisting that sources be consulted.  Unfortunately, irresponsible reporting is typical when the topic is education.

Stephen Krashen

Original paper:

Easy ways to study foreign languages

By Maija Inveiss
Struggling to learn a foreign language? A lot of people are in the same boat. Whether you’re just starting to learn a new one or are brushing up for a semester abroad, use these tips to improve your language skills.
Find an organization: Many schools have clubs and organizations that focus on specific foreign languages. At these student meetings you can find others also struggling to pick up a new language, as well as those who have the expertise to help you improve your skills. Importantly, it’s a great way to practice by talking with others — perhaps the best way to pick up a new language. You can also learn about the culture of the country you’re studying.
Watch Netflix: Watch foreign-language films on Netflix. At first, watch the movie with the subtitles — but then turn them off.  Watching American and British TV is often cited as a big way people from other countries have learned English. Learning in this way is fun, too. Don’t have Netflix? No problem! Find a radio station or news station.
Use Duolingo: The app Duolingo is a fun way to refresh your language skills and a great way to study in bite-size pieces. The app provides a well-rounded approach to foreign languages.
Find a pen pal: Services like My Language Exchange can help connect students with other people in who want to practice a foreign language. Reddit also has threads designed to find pen pals. Often you might be able to find a native speaker. Native speakers can teach you slang and more conversational phrases. My Language Exchange gives users 115 different languages to choose from.

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