Saturday, July 31, 2021

What about accent?


Stephen Krashen & Nooshan Ashtari


1.     Assumption -  accent improvement by hard work and study, conscious learning (Hammond: 51% agree that hard working and intelligent people can always succeed in eliminating foreign accent).

a.     The research: conditions difficult to meet

1.     Know the rule: e.g. comb, combing, combination – what’s the rule?

2.     Focus on form

3.     Time to retrieve & apply the rule

b.    Little research on effect of instruction for “spontaneous conversation” – 

c.     Most effective for “monitored production of specific features (Saito and Plonsky). No clear evidence it works in real conversation

d.    (Some) evidence for improvement without instruction: weak effect 

2.     The club membership hypothesis – instruction,  amount of exposure not the crucial factors

Sub - hypothesis 1: Accent marks belonging to a group

Sub – hypothesis 2: Accent acquired rapidly and well for all ages. LAD never shut off

Sub – hypothesis 3: We do not perform in all the accents we have acquired, because we don’t feel like full members of the group.

Fisher, 1958: typical boys: model boys

Typical: dominating, mischief, more aggressive: short form (goin’, comin’)

Model: thoughtful, considerate: full form (going, coming) 

Typical: shorter form 55% of the time

Model: shorter form: 3% of the time

CAN the model boys use the short form?  (YES, sub-hypothesis 2). 

Do they? (N0, sub-hypothesis 3)

3.     The OUTPUT filter – prevents us from using what we have acquired. (Discomfort)

4.     Examples

a.     1965: A conversation with Gerald Mosback in Addis Ababa. (filter down)

b.    My French falls apart: Univ. of Ottawa (filter up)

c.     I impress my daughter with my French in a Paris coffee shop. (filter down)

5.     Can classes help? Even if class improved accent? The problem lies elsewhere

a.     Rubin: evaluation of ACCENT-FREE English, picture 1 = “typical American looking”. Picture 2, not. Subjects thought picture 2 had an accent! Judgement based on picture, not the accent

b.    Ashtari (2020): Who is the native speaker? Non-NS with American accent selected over native speaker of Indian English. Effect on hiring? 

c.     How this impacts language acquirers.

Ashtari (2014): intermediate, advanced university ESL students: when talking to native speakers, what they say is grammatically correct but NS say they don’t understand, ask them to repeat. 

1)    Less willingness to talk to NS

2)    Prefer other speakers of ESL

d.    Is it their accent?

1)    Probably not. (personal experience)

2)    Problem in mind of native speakers

e.     Are there pedagogical implications of these hypotheses? Help people drop the output filter? Possible for actors (method acting?), occasionally for jokes, to solidify relationships. 

Otherwise: Painful, awkward. (Experience on a train in London.)


Talking to a potential client: Why SK didn’t get the job.

Talking to a civilian on the phone who has experienced this. 

-       P., born in UK, in US for several decades, NO British accent

-       Understood our ability to drop output filter under certain conditions, eg with family 

-       We have a spectrum of accents inside us, but we either consciously or subconsciously decide which one we use based on our environment and people we interact with and how they react to us… 


The LAD never shuts off. 





Ashtari, N. (2014). Non-native speech and feedback: The relationship between non-native speakers’ production and    native speakers’ reaction. The International Journal of Foreign Language Teaching, 9(2), 9-17. (

Fisher, J. 1958. Social Influences on the Choice of a Linguistic Variant. Word 14: 47-56.



Wednesday, July 28, 2021

School librarian decline study

      A recent report highlights an ongoing decline in the number of districts nationwide with school librarians. According to the findings, there were about 20% fewer librarians during the 2018–2019 school year in the 13,000 districts examined than a decade prior. But the absence of these educators isn’t equally distributed: Smaller, rural districts, and those with higher proportions of English-language learners, Latinx students, and low-income students were more likely to lack a librarian.

     Debra E. Kachel and Keith Curry Lance write: “Most of us know there have been large losses of school librarians over the past two decades. What is less well known—and begs for attention—is that these losses pose a major educational equity issue. In our new study, we found that everyone isn’t losing their librarians; losses tend to occur in districts where there are more students living in poverty, more minority students, and more English-language learners. Districts with fewer such students are far more likely to have and maintain librarians. The other news is that, since 2015–2016, several states have begun to see net increases in their numbers of school librarians.”

School Librarian Investigation: Decline or Evolution? (2021). Seattle: Antioch University.

Public library expenditures and reading scores research

 A study of US public libraries found that library capital investments increases children's attendance at library events 18%, their checkouts by 21%, and visits by 21%. It translated into improve test scores in nearby school districts. A $1000+ per-student capital investment in local public libraries increased reading test scores the .02 standard deviations (not significant for math scores. 

Gilpin, G., Karger, E., & Nencka, F. (2021). The returns to public library investment. Federal Reserach Bank of Chicago.

What matters in reading instruction.... by Susan Ohanian

Published in the Los Angeles Times July 28, 2021.


Reaction to: Op-Ed by Jeremy Adams: The rise of the Zoombies: Lifeless, detached students have returned to my classroom (

“… This fall it will likely become obvious that the calculus student who halfheartedly learned pre-calculus behind an anonymous screen for an entire year won’t be able to soar. Nor will the second-grader who’s asked to read passages when vowels weren’t mastered in first grade.”


Response by Susan Ohanian, published in LA Times, 7/28/21 

I share many of the concerns expressed by Adams, but the absence of vowel instruction definitely isn't one of them.Young children in my classes demonstrated that what literacy experts said was true: Phonics instruction plays a very small role in reading comprehension. What matters is reading aloud to children — a lot — and surrounding children with many books that they want to read. People who worry about those children who arrive in second grade without phonics instruction should know that in Finland, reading instruction doesn’t even begin until age 7 or 8. The Finns, whose children score at the top of international tests, are much more concerned that children have lots of time to play together.

Susan Ohanian, Charlotte, Vt.



Saturday, July 24, 2021

Decline in School Librarians study

 Communication from Stephen Krashen <>: Jul 24 02:12PM -0700

Studies have shown that the presence of a credentialed school librarian results in better reading & writing (e.g. Kachel and Lance, 2013). But according to a recently released report (the SLIDE report; **Lance and Kachel, 2021)**, the number of school librarians fell 20% during the last ten years. In 2009-10, there were 939 students per school librarian, but by 2018-19, it had increased to 1,199 to 1.*

*The usual explanation was that the decrease in school librarians was because of budget, but the SLIDE report **found “no clear relationship between staffing and funding. **Of great interest: ** Nationwide, the number of school administrators increased during this time (**Instructional
Coordinators, by almost 34%; District Administrators, more than 16%, School Administrators, more than 15%.)*
*Most disturbing: **Librarians are less likely to be found in smaller, rural, and poorly funded districts that serve more students in poverty, that serve mostly non-white and Hispanic students, and English Language acquirers. In other words, everybody’s not losing their librarians—mostly
those who depend on libraries the most. *
*Impact of school librarian:
*The SLIDE report: Lance, K. C., & Kachel, D. E. (2021, July). Perspectives on school librarian employment in the United States, 2009-10 to 2018-19. SLIDE: The School Librarian Investigation—Decline or Evolution? *

Friday, July 23, 2021

Reading on and offline research

 "This meta-analysis examines the inconsistent findings across experimental studies that compared children’s learning outcomes with digital and paper books. We quantitatively reviewed 39 studies reported in 30 articles (n = 1,812 children) and compared children’s story comprehension and vocabulary learning in relation to medium (reading on paper versus on-screen), design enhancements in digital books, the presence of a dictionary, and adult support for children aged between 1 and 8 years. The comparison of digital versus paper books that only differed by digitization showed lower comprehension scores for digital books. Adults’ mediation during print books’ reading was more effective than the enhancements in digital books read by children independently. However, with story-congruent enhancements, digital books outperformed paper books. An embedded dictionary had no or negative effect on children’s story comprehension but positively affected children’s vocabulary learning." The researchers also noted that Researchers also found that most of the commercially published e-books explored in the studies didn’t enhance the text in ways that focused children’s attention as adults naturally would when reading a story to a child, such as pointing out main story elements, asking questions, and focusing children’s attention on the chain of events in a story. 


Furenes, M., Kucirkova, N., & Bus, A. (2021). A comparison of children's reading on paper versus screen: A meta-analysis. Review of Educational Research, 91(4).

Thursday, July 1, 2021

Mentorship research

New research examines school librarians’ perceptions of the Continuum of Care model for assessment of need, program theory, program process, impact, and efficiency. Researcher Rita Reinsel Soulen extends her prior research with an analysis of practices that enable school librarians to develop mentoring skills, which lead to more opportunities for collaboration with other educators. Her study finds that actions taken by the school librarian may promote new teachers’ resilience, leading to better-defined best practice by school librarians helping new teachers. 

Soulen, R. (2021). Enabling Collaboration through Mentorship: Examining the Role of the School Librarian. School Library Research, 24

Library Instruction and teaching experience research

 New research examines the relationship between years of traditional classroom teaching experience and teaching in school library instructional environments. A longstanding shortage of certified school librarians in Maryland inspired David E. Robinson and Scot W. McNary to examine the preparation of school librarians with varying levels of prior teaching experience. Their primary research question was: in the role of teacher, what is the relationship between years of teaching experience and school librarian candidates’ effectiveness in planning, implementing, and reflecting on school library-based instruction.

Robinson, D., &  McNary, S.  (2021). School library instruction: Does teaching matter? School Library Research