the power of reading

Stories and storytelling are powerful.

Read for pleasure.

Bring Me a Book Hong Kong presented a talk by Dr. Stephen Krashen on literacy and language development this past Saturday. It was a very engaging talk and one that I wished went longer.

I appreciated his candidness on his 30+ years of work and research and how current he has stayed in his field and with popular culture.  Made for an entertaining morning.

Some learning points:

  • Language acquisition, which leads to fluency is much more important than language learning, which leads to accuracy.
  • Language acquisition is effortless and involuntary.
  • Comprehensible input is key–we acquire language when we understand it.
  • The best kind of comprehensible input is beyond interesting, it needs to be COMPELLING.  This kind of input is difficult to find.
  • Free voluntary reading (self selected and can be narrow) is the most effective for language and literacy development.
  • Access to books results in more reading.  Children, especially those of poverty, need access to books.
  • Rewards given for doing something that is already pleasant (eg. reading) sends the wrong message.

There needs to be a shift in thinking in how language is “taught”, especially here in Hong Kong where everyone pretty much is learning a language of some sort whether it be Mandarin, English, Cantonese, or in my case, Spanish. The video of Dr. Krashen’s talk is supposed to be posted on the Bring Me a Book site soon–which I will make sure to encourage everyone at school to watch.  Along with my four colleagues who also attended the talk, am looking forward to sharing our love of reading :) and new learning with the faculty.  It will be interesting to dialogue about how our students learn language.

“We are so intent on achievement we are doing things that are anti-achievement…we all need time for creativity.” –Krashen


After Dr. Krashen’s talk, Dr. Christy Lao shared about her work with second language acquisition and a summer Chinese reading program in San Francisco.  She talked about how it was set-up/run and focused on the use of comic books/manga to draw kids into reading. She also touched on the challenges and successes of using technology like iPads.  I am always keen to hear and learn more about various programs taking place around the world and to see what the possibilities are.  Am passionate about literacy, particularly in regards to how it ties in with art and what better way to share our stories than through picture making, writing, and book arts.  Will need to work on a plan.


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