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Year:2016 Volume:1 Issue:1 Pages:1-9Invited ArticleWhat Does it Take to Develop a Long-term Pleasure Reading Habit?Kyung-Sook ChoBusan National University of Education- South KoreaDepartment of Elementary English [email protected] KrashenUniversity of Southern California- USARossier School of Education (Emeritus)[email protected] citation: Cho, K. S. & Krashen, S. (2016). What does it take to develop a long-term pleasurereading habit? Turkish Online Journal of English Language Teaching (TOJELT), 1(1), 1–9.Submission historyReceived:21 September 2015Final version:15 November 2015Corresponding author:[email protected] 2016 TOJELT.All rights reserved.Abstract: Six case histories of second language acquirers were examined to attempt todetermine what factors play a role in developing a long-term pleasure reading habit in asecond language (English). The cases provided support for several hypotheses: Longterm readers are first stimulated to read through a pleasant reading experience, theyhave access to books and time and a place (or places) to read, they select their ownreading material, feel free to stay with certain authors and genres if they want to, and donot profit from tests, workbook exercises and incentives. If these hypotheses areconfirmed in future studies, we can conclude that school does not provide the conditionsthat help develop long-term pleasure reading.Keywords: second language, long term pleasure reading, self-selected reading,sustained silent reading, access to books1. IntroductionThis paper is based on a central hypothesis: The most important factor in reachingadvanced levels in a second or foreign language is developing and maintaining a longtermpleasure reading habit.There is abundant evidence that this hypothesis is correct: self-selected free voluntarypleasure reading has been shown to have very positive effects on language and literacydevelopment: Those who read more become better readers and better writers, have largervocabularies and better control over complex grammatical constructions, and spell better(research summarized in Krashen, 2004, 2011). More recently, Mason and Krashen (in press)have provided data strongly suggesting that one hour per day of pleasure reading over three yearscan result in a second language acquirer moving from the low intermediate to the advanced levelwithout direct instruction, confirming the results of an early analysis by Nation (2104).In this paper, we assume the correctness of this central hypothesis and the desirability ofsecond language acquirers become long-term pleasure readers. We focus on how long-term1

Cho & Krashen (2016)readers become long-term readers. We restrict our main analysis to second language acquisition,where self-selected reading is rarely used or even recommended.2. Hypotheses for long term pleasure readingWe hypothesize:1.Something will stimulate the start of a pleasure reading habit, e.g. a sustainedsilent reading class, learning about the power of reading in an academic classes, reading a book inEnglish that stimulates more reading (a "home run" book, Trelease, 2001).2.Plenty of access to books.3.Time and place to read regularly.4.Being able to self-select reading material according to interest and difficulty, andbeing free to read narrowly, sticking to certain authors or topics.5.No tests, no workbook exercises, no rewards for reading. Either they will not bepresent, or the reader who does them will not give them the credit for progress and will not likethem.3. Case StudiesWe present here a series of case histories, and in each case we provide evidence that thereader has established a pleasure reading habit, determine if the case is consistent with ourhypotheses, and describe the improvement that has taken place.Case One: Jung SeoReading Habit. Jung Seo, more fully described in Cho and Krashen (2015), is anacquirer of English as a Foreign Language in Korea. Ms. Seo, who had not been a pleasure readerin English, had been reading steadily in English for four years and eight months at the time hercase history was written. She reports that she reads at least one hour a day, and has read about200 books in English since starting her reading program, and has read about 600 children's booksin English.Stimulation. After majoring in English in college and teaching English in school, shewas not satisfied with her English competence: "She described her English as 'fumbling' and saidshe made lots of mistakes when speaking and paused a lot to think before saying anything" (Choand Krashen, 2015). Research on free voluntary reading was included in one of the courses shetook in graduate school, and this inspired her to begin a self-selected reading program on herown.Access to books. She is a member of a local English library, which has a wide variety ofbooks. This library was her major source of books.Time and place. She read on the subway, 20 minutes going to work and 20 minutesreturning home each day. She also reported that she read in bed before going to sleep, duringrecess at the school where she teaches, and at home during the weekend and on vacations.Self-selected and narrow. Ms. Seo clearly read what she wanted to read, eventuallyfinding favorite fiction authors, starting with Sidney Sheldon, and then Sophie Kinsella. Seoreports that when she discovered Kinsella's books, she "could not stop reading them" (Cho andKrashen, 2015). She is now reading her seventh Michael Connelly Harry Bosch novel, havingread the previous six in the series.2

What does it take to develop a long-term pleasure reading habit?Tests, exercises and rewards. Ms. Seo took no tests during the four years eight monthsof her reading journey, did no workbook activities, and her rewards were all intrinsic, thepleasure of reading.Language Development. Ms. Seo clearly improved: She reported that she had notrouble reading books in English that she found to be very difficult when she tried to read themseveral years ago. She says she is less dependent on the dictionary while reading. She feels she ismore fluent in speaking English, and is more confident in speaking to native speakers, and thatshe can now understand American TV and movies without subtitles.Case Two: RamonReading Habit. Ramon, described in Henkin and Krashen (2015), came to the US aftercompleting six years of education in Mexico, and his first school experience in the US was ingrade 9, which he began knowing very little English. Less than two years later, he had read onePercy Jackson novel, a number of manga and graphic novels, and was eager for more.Stimulation. Ramon had a "home run book experience," a concept introduced byTrelease (2001), who hypothesized that one positive experience can be enough to create apermanent interest in reading. Ramon's home run experience came from the Naruto mangaseries, and it happened during the winter break of his first year of high school. He had beenwatching the Naruto TV series in Mexico, a story about a teenage Ninja, and starting readingNaruto manga in English.Access. Ramon borrowed Naruto manga from the school and local public libraries, andread online versions.Self-selected and narrow. Ramon is clearly a "narrow" reader: A year and four monthsafter starting to read Naruto manga, he was still reading them. He had also completed reading thefirst book of the Percy Jackson and the Olympian series (The Lightning Thief, by Rick Riordan)in English, having read the entire series in graphic novel format. He is also reading The RedPyramid (also by Rick Riordian) in graphic novel format.Language Development. There are clear signs that Ramon has improved dramatically.His scores on standardized tests in English place him just slightly below the level forreclassification as a proficient English speaker, which is astonishing considering the short amountof time he has been in school in the US. In his beginning ESL class at the start of grade nine hecould only read the simplest kindergarten level books, but three semesters later he had read ayoung adult novel in English. At the end of grade 10 he earned all A's and B's in his courses,which were regular subject matter classes with some accomodation for speakers of English as asecond language.Case Three: Jaimin and JaeheeReading Habit. Jaimin, an eighth grader at the start of his reading journey, and his sisterJaehee, a ninth grader, were unenthusiastic students of English as a foreign language in Korea.Their mother, Mina, however, had a very positive experience in a university class on secondlanguage acquisition, where she had participated in a brief sustained silent reading session, andwas eager to get her children involved in English reading.After a "false start," described below, Jaimin and Jaehee were eager English readers forthe next seven months.Stimulation. Mina began the project by ordering "intermediate level" books for herchildren that she selected herself, and requiring her children to read them. This didn't work. Thechildren, when interviewed later, said that the books were too hard and not interesting. (Jaehee,3

Cho & Krashen (2016)however, said that after reading a few of the books, she got "a little interested," Cho and Krashen,2002, p. 159.) Things changed when the children were allowed to select their own books (seebelow).Access. Mina then ordered four books a month that her children wanted to read from acatalog.Self-selected and narrow. After three months of unsuccessfuly trying to get her children"hooked on books," Mina changed her policy and let them select their own reading material. Shefirst took them to a bookstore and told them they could select whatever they liked: "She reportedthat both children enjoyed browsing through the books at the bookstore and were, in fact, riveted:'My boy was laughing out loud and my daughter was nodding to herself and smiling. Theyseemed to forget about going home ." (translated from Korean, in Cho and Krashen, 2002, p.160).We do not have details about what the children read, only that they did not select booksaccording to reading level, but according to their interest in the story or topic.Tests, exercises and rewards. Some of the books Mina ordered for her children camewith a workbook and reading and vocabulary tests. Mina asked Jaemin to do the exercises andtake the tests, but he had a very negative reaction right away.Language Development. Seven months after their reading journey began with a trip to abookstore, Mina took them to another bookstore. She observed that her children were involved inbooks:My kids were soon involved in reading in a corner, without moving. I quietly movedcloser to see what kinds of books they were reading. They were books from a wellknown series of children's literature . the kind of reading I selected for them a year ago. It was amazing and I couldn't believe that four books a month made them improve somuch in reading comprehension. They seemed to be able to read in English as easily asthey read in Korean. (translated from Korean, in Cho and Krashen, 2002, p. 161)Case Four: KarenReading Habit. Karen, a 34-year native speaker of Korean living in the US, had neverread any books in English and had little interaction with native speakers of English. In one year,she read a substantial number of young adult books, as well as adult novels and magazines.Stimulation. Karen began reading books in the Sweet Valley series at the suggestion ofProf. Kyung Sook Cho, on the basis of success with this series with other subjects (Cho andKrashen, 1995a).Time and place to read. According to Cho and Krashen (1995b), "Karen read the bookseverywhere, taking them with her on the plane when she went on a trip, and reported that sheread the Sage volune of Sweet Valley High until 2:30 in the morning" (p. 18).Self-selected and narrow. After Prof. Cho recommended the Sweet Valley series,Karen enjoyed them and eagerly read them voluntarily. Her additional reading included morefrom the same genre, as well as a great deal of reading from magazines. In one year, she read 25books from the Sweet Valley Kids series, 21 from the Sweet Valley Twins series, and 20 fromSweet Valley High, along with 40 copies of the National Inquirer, four Harlequin Romances, andeight novels by Danielle Steel and Sydney Sheldon.Tests, exercises and rewards. Karen took no tests, did no workbook exercises and heronly reward was the pleasure of reading during the year her reading was studied by Cho andKrashen (1995b).4

What does it take to develop a long-term pleasure reading habit?Language Development. Karen gradually progressed to more challenging reading, andat the end of the year was able to read novels that she had found incomprehensible a year before.She also felt that her spoken English had improved.Case five: Mi-aeReading Habit. Mi-ae was a thirty year old adult speaker of Korean working in LosAngeles, who had been in the US for five years when she was studied by Cho and Krashen(1995c). She reported having difficulty understanding native speakers and TV and was not areader in English. Over seven months, she read novels from the Sweet Valley series as well as anumber of magazines.Stimulation. Mi-ae was one of a group of ESL aquirers who participated in a study inwhich the acquirers voluntarily read novels from the Sweet Valley series (Cho and Krashen,1995a). In one month she had read eight books from the Sweet Valley Kids series (second gradelevel), and had made significant progress with English. She was encouraged by this experience tocontinue reading.Time and place. We do not have details about where and when she read, but Mi-ae toldKrashen and Cho (1995c) that she read during every spare moment over seven months.Self-selected and narrow. Mi-ai continued to read from the Sweet Valley series. Afterreading eight Sweet Valley Kids in one month, she continued to read 31 more, and four booksfrom the Sweet Valley Twins (grade four level) series. She also read magazines, such as Vogue,People, and the National Inquirer. All her reading was self-selected.Tests, exercises and rewards. Mi-ae took no tests, did no workbook exercises, and wasgiven no extrinsic rewards.Language Development. In addition to her progress in reading more challengingmaterial, there were other signs of improvement:“I had two movie video tapes. I did not understand them at all five years ago, and justlooked at the pictures. I did not understand them two years ago either. Last Tuesday, Iwatched them again to see if I could understand them. I understood them from the start, Icould not catch everything, but I understood the entire story. I was so happy that I couldunderstand words that I knew from the reading, such as ‘envy’, ’avoid’, and ’wet’.”(translated from Korean, in Cho and Krashen, 1995c).It is clear that Mi-ae’s speaking ability in English has improved. A native speaker ofEnglish she knows saw her for the first time in a year and asked if she had been taking Englishclasses. She had only been reading Sweet Valley novels.Case six: Reyna GrandeReading Habit. Reyna Grande came to the US from Mexico at age nine, after a life ofgreat deprivation. She is obviously highly literate today. She has become a published author inEnglish (Grande, 2012) and teaches creative writing at UCLA Extension.Stimulation. Reyna Grande had been a pleasure reader in Spanish before coming to theUS. She became a pleasure reader in the seventh grade in the US, and received helpfulsuggestions for books from her school librarian.Access. In grade eight, she “would stop at the Arroyo Seco Library for books” everyFriday before going home. She borrowed the maximum every week: ten books (from: Krashenand Williams, 2012, p. 26).Self-selected and narrow. Reyne Grande profited from suggestions made by her school5

Cho & Krashen (2016)librarian and much later by her university English teacher, but her reading was self-selected. Herelementary school reading included popular young adult series, such as the Sweet Valley Series,the Babysitters Club and her eventual favorite, books by VC Andrews.Tests, exercises and rewards. In grade eight, she entered a district-wide short storycontest and won first place. This reward, however, came after she had become a dedicatedpleasure reader in English.Language Development. Reyna Grande was not a "long term ELL": she “successfullycompleted the ESL program and got rid of my status as an ESL student” at the end of seventhgrade (Grande, 2012, p. 240). She did well in school, winning a writing award in English,attended the University of California at Santa Cruz, and eventually became a successful author inEnglish, publishing two novels in addition to her autobiography.4. SummaryNote that in several of the cases reviewed here information was missing for some of thecategories (Table 1). This is not surprising: The case studies were not done with this set ofhypotheses in mind. Our hope is that future case studies will include data that will continue to testthe set of hypotheses presented in table 1.Table PlaceJung SeoAdult(34)4yearscollege rt of thsPart of study"every sts/exercisesyes/yesnoneyes/yesEach hypothesis received clear support:Longterm second language readers all had some kind of experience that got theminterested in pleasure reading: This may be crucial in second language acquisition situationsbecause, as noted earlier, self-selected voluntary reading is rarely done or even mentioned insecond language classes.6

What does it take to develop a long-term pleasure reading habit?Longterm second/foreign language readers had access to books in the second/foreignlanguage. This is rarely the case in the foreign language situations, where books in otherlanguages are often difficult to find and expensive, and rarely provided in schools. It is alsocrucial in the second language situation for students living in poverty, who have little access tobooks at school, at home and in their communities (Krashen, 2004).Longterm second language readers found a time and place to read, often difficult to do inthese hectic times. This problem, of course, is similar for all readers.Our readers read books they selected themselves, typical of successful readers (Krashen,2004), but of course not typical of classroom instruction, where nearly all reading is assigned.When reading is selected by the reader, this makes it much more likely that it will be of interestand much more likely that the reader will develop higher levels of competence (Lee, 2007).Our readers were narrow readers, also consistent with what is known about successfulreaders (Lamme, 1976; Krashen, 2000). And again, narrow reading, staying with a topic, authoror genre for an extended period of time, is rarely encouraged in classrooms. Rather, reading andliterature classes typically utilize surveys, providing students only samples of different authorsand genres. Narrow reading is more comprehensible, thanks to familiarity with an author's styleand greater background information.Tests, exercises and rewards, the core of traditional instruction, were not appreciated byour longterm readers, and several made excellent progress without them.5. ConclusionsIf subsequent studies confirm the results of this analysis, we arrive at an interestingconclusion: The formula for success in establishing a longterm reading habit is in directcontradiction to several practices that are part of traditional instruction.Traditional instruction does not value free voluntary reading, does not provide access toreading material or time and a place to read. It does not encourage self-selection and places theemphasis on short and varied reading samples, rather than narrow reading.Longterm pleaure readers have overcome these obstacles; in a sense they have overcomewhat they have learned in school.Acknowledgement: This paper was supported by the Busan National University of Education inKorea (2015).ReferencesCho, K.S. and Krashen, S. (1995a). From sweet valley kids to harlequins in one year. CaliforniaEnglish,1(1), 18-19.Cho, K.S. and Krashen, S. (1995b). From sweet valley kids to harlequins in one year.California English, 1(1), 18-19.Cho, K.S. and Krashen, S. (1995c). Becoming a dragon: Progress in English as a second languagethrough narrow free voluntary reading. California Reader, 29, 9-10.Cho, K.S. and Krashen, S. (2002). Reading English as a foreign language: What a mother can do.Reading Improvement, 39(4), 158-163.Cho, K.S. and Krashen, S. (2015). Establishing a long-term reading habit in English as a ForeignLanguage. Submitted for publication.Grande, R. (2012). The distance between us. New York: Atria7

Cho & Krashen (2016)Henskin, V. J. and Krashen, S. (2015). The Naruto breakthrough. The home run book experienceand English language development. Language Magazine, In press.Krashen, S. (2000). The case for narrow reading. Language Magazine, 3(5), 17-19.Krashen, S. (2004). The Power of Reading. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann and SantaBarbara: Libraries Unlimited.Krashen, S. (2011). Free voluntary reading. Westport: Libraries Unlimited.Krashen, S. and Williams, C. (2012). Is self-selected pleasure reading the cure for the long-termELL syndrome? A case history. NABE Perspectives, September-December 2012, 26Lamme, L. (1976). Are reading habits and abilities related? Reading Teacher, 30, 21-27.Lee, S.Y. (2007). Revelations from three consecutive studies on extensive reading. RELC Journal,38(2), 150–70.Mason, B. and Krashen, S. (in press). Can second language acquirers reach high levels ofproficiency through self-selected reading? An attempt to confirm Nation's (2014) results.International Journal of Foreign Language Teaching.McKool, S. (2007). Factors that influence the decision to read: An investigation of fifth gradestudents' out-of-school reading habits. Reading Improvement, 44(3), 111-131.Nation, I.S.P. (2014). How much input do you need to learn the most frequent 9,000 words?Reading in a Foreign Language, 26(2), 1-16.Purcell-Gates, V., Degener, S., Jacobson, E. and Soler, M. (2002). Impact of authentic adultliteracy instruction on adult literacy practices. Reading Research Quarterly, 37 (1), 70-92.Trelease, J. (2001). The read-aloud handbook. New York: Penguin.Fourth edition.Appendix: First language studiesMcKool (2007) provided information on many of the hypotheses focused on here.Reading habit. McKool interviewed 20 fifth graders who were avid readers (read for anaverage of 46 minutes a day during a ten day period) and 17 who were reluctant readers (read foran average of three minutes a day).Stimulation. "Avid readers .reported that voluntary reading was promoted in theirclasses through the practice of Sustained Silent Reading" (McKool, 2007, p. 125).Access. All avid readers in this study had access to books. Avid readers from higherincome families tended to get their books from bookstores and home, while lower-income readerswere more dependent on the school library (p. 123). There was, however, no difference betweenthe high- and low-income avid reader groups in enthusiasm for reading (p. 118). Some reluctantreaders had experienced sustained silent reading (SSR), but in several of their SSR classes theydid not have access to what they wanted to read.Self-selected/narrow. The readers ". felt . that it was critical for teachers to allowthem to read whatever they wanted to read. When avid readers were asked to read requiredmaterials during [SSR] time, they frequently admitted that 'This makes me not want to read.'"(McKool, 2007, p. 125). Some reluctant readers had SSR, but they did have their choice of whatto read; teachers did not allow comics or magazines. Both avid and reluctant readers read seriesbooks.Tests, exercises and rewards. None of the avid readers felt they read more as a result ofa reading incentive program. "In fact, several avid readers admitted that they read less because ofsuch programs" (McKool, 2007, p. 126). Avid readers disliked incentive programs because "theydid not allow complete choice in material selection. Students . reported that participation in the8

What does it take to develop a long-term pleasure reading habit?program required them to read a book off of a predetermined list on a particular reading level .One student stated: 'I want to read whatever I want to read. When I have to read an AR(Accelerated Reader) book, it makes me not want to read.'" (p. 126). These reactions confirm theimportance of self-selection (see above).Two additional studies (Purcell-Gates, Degener, Jacobson & Soler, 2002; Rodrigo,Greenbert, & Segal, 2014) provide some useful information. In both cases, those exposed to aliteracy program emphasizing reading for meaning (stimulation) were shown to have developedmore of a reading habit than those in programs that did not. Both studies included secondlanguage acquirers, but it was not clear if they reacted differently from the native speakers ofEnglish.9

watching the Naruto TV series in Mexico, a story about a teenage Ninja, and starting reading Naruto manga in English. Access. Ramon borrowed Naruto manga from the school and local public libraries, and read online versions. Self-selected and narrow. Ramon is clearly a "narrow" reader: A year and four months