A Teacher Tired of “Anything But Reading”

Language teachers are constantly bombarded with the latest buzz words for outputting (ex. comprehensible output , accountable talk, and academic conversations).  Educational leaders propose “Everything but what works” while ignoring what is research-proven: pleasure reading (Krashen, 2016).

In the article titled “Anything But Reading,” Krashen writes, “I am afraid to predict what people will come up with next… It remains mysterious to me why the obvious, most pleasant, least expensive, and probably the only effective way to improve reading ability- providing readers with interesting, comprehensible reading material- appears not only to be the last resort, but is often not even mentioned” (2009, 25).

Students must average 100 pages per week to provide enough comprehensible input to catch up to grade-level (Mason 2011, Mason & Krashen 2015, McQuillan 2016). Instead, text is truncated into 1-2 page reading passages with endless outputting activities and skill-building activities.

 “Educational consultants” undermine the simple, straightforward act of picking up a good book.  That’s too simple: there must be comprehension checks, drills, and activities.  The latest how-to for outputting activities makes a better GIF and gets more re-tweets than a student quietly sitting reading a book.


Krashen, S.  (Dec. 22, 2016).  Everything but what works: A comment on “Helping English-Learners Break Through Language Plateaus.” (Originally published in Education Week.)  Retrieved from: http://skrashen.blogspot.com/2016/12/everything-but-what-works-comment-on.html?spref=fb
Krashen, S. (May/June 2009). Anything But Reading. Knowledge Quest. (37)5, 19-25.
Mason, B. & Krashen, S. (2015). Can Second Language Acquirers Reach High Levels of Proficiency Through Self-Selected Reading? An Attempt to Confirm Nation’s (2014) Results. International Journal of Foreign Language Teaching, 10 (2): 10-19.
Mason, B. (2011). Impressive gains on the TOEIC after one year of comprehensible input, with no output or grammar study. International Journal of Foreign Language Teaching, 7(1).
McQuillan, J. (2016). Time, texts, and teaching in vocabulary acquisition: A rebuttal to Cobb (2016). Reading in a Foreign Language. 28 (2): 307-318.  Accessed at: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/309457297_Time_Texts_and_Teaching_in_Vocabulary_Acquisition_A_Rebuttal_to_Cobb_2016

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Claire Walter

I am an ESL teacher and I promote differentiated, compassionate instruction and assessment for English Language Learners.

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