Academic journal article Foreign Language Annals

Response to Letter to the Editor

Academic journal article Foreign Language Annals

Response to Letter to the Editor

Article excerpt

Dear Editor,

Stephen Krashen reanalyzed the results of our study (Knell & West, 2017) comparing early and delayed character instruction with beginning Mandarin middle school students using a test of efficiency to calculate gains per unit of time. The outcome of this analysis resulted in nearly identical gains for the two groups. He suggested that a follow-up study be conducted to extend the experiment across four semesters in order to explore the results in light of an emphasis on efficiency. We, of course, welcome further research about early and delayed character instruction as new insights may be revealed about this topic.

It is important to note that only the characters learned by both groups of students were assessed in our study. The efficiency calculations that Krashen performed utilized the scores for the characters taught to both groups and could not take into consideration the additional characters taught to the early group. This is an important distinction because the early students were taught 23% more characters overall. The knowledge of additional characters should enable beginning-level students to do substantially more reading and writing.

Efficiency of instruction was not our research purpose. Our research goals focused on whether or not early or delayed character instruction advantaged students. Our results demonstrated that delaying character instruction to focus on oral language development did not advantage students. There were no differences on the oral measures; however, the early students performed significantly better on tests of reading comprehension and writing. We suggested that this improved performance resulted because the early group had more time to practice reading and writing characters. …

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