Can We Increase the Power of Reading by Adding More Output and/or Correction?
Beniko Mason and Stephen Krashen
Table 1 presents post-test means, adjusted for pretest scores for that measure. Application of ANCOVA revealed no significant difference among the groups for the cloze test (F = 1.45, df = 2,92, p = .24). Differences on the writing measure were, however, significant or very close to significant (total words; F = 3.02, p = .05; total clauses, F = 5.20, p = .007; error-free clauses, F = 4.89, p = .009; words in error-free clauses, F = 2.80, p =.065).
Follow-up tests (Fisher LSD) were performed for all writing measures. In every case, the Japanese group and English/correction group significantly outperformed the English group (p < .001). Differences between the Japanese group and English/correction group were not significant.
It must be noted, however, that there was extreme variation in pretest writing measures. Even with the use of ANCOVA, this makes interpretation difficult. As presented in table 2, the English/correction group was much more fluent on the pretest, producing more words and clauses. Note that the Japanese group caught up to them and even surpassed them on the writing measures; differences, however, were not significant, as noted above, using ANCOVA. There was little difference among the groups on the cloze pretest.
|Japanese||30.5 (7.7)||38.7 (7.1)||109.0 (45.7)||227.3 (67.2)|
|English||28.9 (8.1)||39.2 (6.9)||71.6 (34.3)||179.7 (39.1)|
|English/corr||27.0 (8.6)||39.4 (9.3)||172.8 (86.6)||222.9 (59.8)|
|Total Clauses||Error-free Clauses|
|Japanese||21.7 (9.8)||43.7 (12.3)||10.1 (5.8)||26.6 (9.9)|
|English||13.8 (6.8)||34.1 (7.8)||6.1 (4.6)||19.0 (6.4)|
|English/corr||34.6 (18.2)||42.2 (11.5)||16.7 (10.5)||24.8 (9.0)|
|Words in Error-free Clauses|
|Japanese||46.0 (26.3)||123.8 (48.3)|
|English||29.0 (21.2)||92.6 (32.4)|
|English/corr||75.2 (49.5)||122.6 (48.1)|
|Standard deviations in parentheses.|
Another way of analyzing the results is to consider efficiency. Table 3 presents the amount of time each group devoted to reading and writing in English for the extensive reading class. (All students were enrolled in 10.5 additional hours of English classes in addition to the class discussed here. These classes were the same for all students.)
|Time devoted to||Reading||Writing||Total|
|English||3.7 (1.4)||2.2 (.82)||5.9|
|English/corr||4.4 (1.6)||2.0 (1.2)||6.4|
|writing = extra time writing in English.|
The Japanese group spent slightly less time reading, and spent far less time than the other groups overall. We estimate that for the entire academic year, the Japanese group invested about 100 hours in English, while the English group spent 180 hours and the English/correction group about 200 hours. Thus, the Japanese group got approximately the same results for about one-half the investment in time.
There was no difference among the groups for the amount read (table 4). All groups declined in the second semester, and none of the groups attained the goal of 2000 pages.
|Amount Read||First Sem.||Second Sem.|
|Japanese||965.1 (364.3)||591.7 (297.1)|
|English||912.9 (161.8)||459.8 (268.5)|
|English/corr||954.1 (156.8)||572.4 (199.1)|
There was no obvious effect of adding additional output in English or output with correction.Reading alone produced the same results, and was far more time-efficient. This result is consistent with the input hypothesis, but inconsistent with output and instruction hypotheses.
Possible objections to this conclusion include the following:
It also may be the case that the English/correction group was more enthusiastic than the others: They requested correction and wrote far more on the pretest. While they outperformed the English group, it is interesting that they did not do better than those who only wrote in Japanese. A surprising result, however, is that the English/correction group did not suffer in terms of fluency when compared to the English group. Correction thus seemed to have no ill effects, even though it did not help.
Elley, W. (1991). Acquiring literacy in a second language: The effect of book-based programs. Language Learning, 41, 375-411.
Ishikawa, S. (1995). Objective measurement of low-proficiency EFL narrative writing. Journal of Second Language Writing, 4, 51-69.
Krashen, S. (1993). The Power of Reading. Englewood, CO: Libraries Unlimited.
Krashen, S. (1994). The input hypothesis and its rivals. In N. Ellis (Ed.)
Implicit and Explicit Learning of Languages (pp. 45-77). London: Academic Press.
Mason, B. and Krashen, S. (1997). Extensive reading in English as a foreign language. System, 25, 91-102.
Schmidt, R. (Ed.) (1995). Attention and Awareness in Foreign Language Learning. Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press.
Swain, M. (1995). Three functions of output in second language learning. In Cook, G. and Seidelhofer, B. (Eds.) Principle and Practice in Applied Linguistics: Studies in Honor of H.G. Widdowson (pp. 125-144). Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Tsang, W.K. (1996). Comparing the effects of reading and writing on writing performance. Applied Linguistics, 17, 210-233.