• 70 hours of comprehensible input = 286 hours of traditional instruction

    by Beniko Mason, Nobuyoshi Ae

    Abstract: Japan faces a significant challenge in improving its English language proficiency, lagging behind global and regional averages. This study addresses this issue by examining language teaching methodologies. While language education has evolved in the last half-century, the Japanese system still relies on outdated practices despite raising language competency standards. Language is best acquired when understood, not through speaking, writing, error correction, or memorization. This study explores the potential of eliminating traditional practices hindering language acquisition and increasing input-based instruction.

  • Meeting Ministry Recommendations for Vocabulary Learning: A Suggestion

    by Beniko Mason, Nobuyoshi Ae & Stephen D. Krashen

    Abstract: The Japanese ministry of education has changed its recommendations for English vocabulary study. The recommended number of words has been increased from 1,200 for junior high school students to 1,800 words, and, as before, without a clear recommendation to students on how to learn these words. A small-scale study was done with Japanese 7th graders at a local junior high school to study the efficiency and effect of these instructions and goals and was compared to Story-Listening. The latter was more effective and efficient, and probably contributed more than vocabulary learning.

  • Foundations for Story-Listening: Some Basics

    by Krashen, Stephen D. & Mason, Beniko

    Abstract: This short paper is intended to describe our current progress, the conclusions reached over the last few decades. These conclusions are not “proven fact” but are hypotheses. As such, they can be disproven tomorrow. Thus far, however, these generalizations have survived quite well with a considerable amount of supporting evidence, and no counterevidence. (Representative studies that provide this supporting evidence are cited in this paper, but this is not an exhaustive review.) We claim that the best way to ensure progress in a second language is to provide “optimal input,” input that is comprehensible, highly interesting, and provides large quantities of rich second language input. Thus far, it appears that Story-Listening and Self-Selected Pleasure Reading meet these requirements. Stories can be made comprehensible to second language acquirers through the use of Comprehension-Aiding Supplementation applied to words and phrases that acquirers may have difficulty understanding (Krashen, Mason, & Smith, 2018). The goal is not immediate mastery of new vocabulary but is to make the story more comprehensible. Of interest is the finding that this approach leads to better vocabulary acquisition than traditional methods. Story-Listening provides a conduit, a passageway so to speak, to pleasure reading, a powerful means of developing language and literacy. Pleasure reading is introduced by guiding students to read large quantities of undemanding texts. The goal of Story-Listening and Guided Self-Selected Reading is to help students establish a pleasure reading habit, ensuring progress long after students complete their language course.

  • Story-listening with Japanese EFL Junior High School Students: Is Pre- teaching of Vocabulary Necessary?

    by Mason, Beniko & Ae, Nobuyoshi

    Abstract: Story-Listening is a foreign language teaching method based on Second Language Acquisition Theory. It has been used to test the effect and efficiency of subconscious acquisition-based teaching on the vocabulary gains of foreign language students. The Story-Listening (SL) method communicates using comprehensible and interesting input, but also provides rich and abundant input. Research on the effect and efficiency of SL on vocabulary retention has shown that SL is superior to list-memorization and more time efficient than SL plus vocabulary activities. The subjects in these previous studies were mostly college students, and they had at least six years of formal English education in secondary school. It may therefore be the case that their impressive retention rates were somehow influenced by their previous instruction. To deal with this possibility, two experiments were set up to determine whether early beginners of English as a foreign language can understand a story told in English using the Story-Listening method and incidentally acquire previously unknown words. Beginning level students may understand a familiar story when a teacher supports comprehension with drawings, facial expressions, and gestures, but we wanted to know if they could understand an unfamiliar story using the Story-Listening method and acquire new words. The results confirm that Japanese beginning level EFL 7th graders can: (1) understand an unfamiliar story spoken to them in English, a non-cognate language; (2) acquire words incidentally at an impressive rate; and (3) remember many of the words on a delayed post-test. The positive effect of an acquisition-based teaching method on vocabulary retention holds true for 12-year-old beginning-level EFL students. Listening to both familiar and unfamiliar stories is effective.

  • Guided Self-Selected Reading: A Steady Path to Independent Reading

    by Mason, B. & Smith, K.

    Abstract: This paper begins by reminding readers that Guided Self-Selected Reading (GSSR) is grounded to the Comprehension (Input) Hypothesis. It continues by providing the fundamental characteristics of GSSR for teachers and researchers who wish to use the method in either their research or classroom. After reviewing the history of extensive reading, it concludes that GSSR and ER should not be considered the same as they are based on different theories. It touches on the potential for narrow reading within a GSSR program and the Affective Filter Hypothesis by mentioning ways to reduce anxiety when introducing GSSR to students. The paper concludes by tying the Reading Hypothesis to GSSR and the role of the teacher in a GSSR program.

  • Story-Listening and Guided Self-Selected Reading: Short-Term Results from Indonesia

    by Smith, K., Mason, B., & Krashen, S.

    Abstract: Mason and Krashen (2020) introduced the world to Story-Listening and Mason (2019) did the same for Guided Self-Selected Reading. These two methods attempt to provide optimal input (Krashen and Mason, 2020) for language students. This study, the second in a series of studies conducted during a summer program in Surabaya, Indonesia with university English language acquirers, examined the impact of a three-week course using StoryListening (SL) and Guided Self-Selected Reading (GSSR) on English language proficiency. The study considered how much input students received in-class in the form of SL and GSSR, input through GSSR outside of class, as well as efficiency rates. We concluded that substantial language acquisition occurs in a short-term course when optimal input is provided.

  • When progress stops: The continuing saga of Mr. Tanaka.

    by Mason, B.

    Abstract: Mr. Tanaka is a 43-year-old Japanese man who works in a hospital radiology department in Osaka, Japan. From January 2009 to January 2010, he read over 6,456 pages of mostly graded readers in English and scored 655 on the TOEIC (Test of English for International Communication) in January 2010, gaining 180 points in one year starting from January 2009. He continued reading after that, but after 16 months his TOEIC score remained virtually static (650). This paper presents Mr. Tanaka’s reflections and speculates on why his progress stopped, positing the teacher’s inexperienced suggestions as to how to guide a student at the intermediate level, Mr. Tanaka’s reluctance to completely trust the principles of free voluntary reading, and his dogmatic faith in the mainstream approach which had betrayed him in the past and had now done so again.

  • Do young people in Japan like to read? Let’s take a closer look.

    by Krashen, S., Mason, B., & McQuillan, J.

    Abstract: As part of literacy instruction, teachers use reading programs that use rewards to motivate students to read (Kohn 1999). Underlying such programs is the assumption that young people are not interested in reading and need a system of reward and punishment interventions to motivate them to read. This assumption is not supported by us.

  • The Immersion Assumption

    by Beniko Mason and Stephen Krashen

    Abstract: The public, as well as many language professionals, think that immersion is the best way to acquire a language. People assume that the chance for acquirers to interact with native speakers is the major factor conferring immersion its value. The immersion assumption can be tested by comparing immersion and immersion-type experiences to other treatments. In this study we report a case of a Japanese college student, Kenta, to explain that reading might be a better choice than immersion. He gained significantly on the TOEIC after engaging in periods of pleasure reading but gained little after periods in essentially immersive situations. This matches the experience of Sawako, a Japanese woman whose case we’ve previously reported (Mason & Krashen, 2019). The results are surprisingly consistent: Reading for pleasure, a form of optimal input, appears to be a better option for second language acquisition than immersion.

  • Do Cloze Execises Make Pleasure Reading More Effective? (1991)

    by Mason, B. and Pendergast, T.

    Abstract: This article was published in 1991, when the author was still using the term, Extensive Reading. As it was still a very new method and very little was known about the effect of reading those days, and most teachers were skeptical of the effect of pleasure reading on language acquisition. We did not even think of obtaining the rate of acquisition per hour of reading. We were still debating whether traditional grammar translation was still more effective than just reading alone. We did not even dream that reading alone would be more efficient than reading plus skill-based activities...

  • The Promise of Optimal Input

    by Beniko Mason and Stephen Krashen

    Abstract: For the last 40+ years, teachers have been advised to avoid following one specific methodology and use techniques and activities from different language teaching approaches and methodologies. This approach is called the “Eclectic Approach,” and almost all the modern course books support mixing methodologies. (British Council). (1) After 40+ years, however, the Eclectic Approach has not been shown to be the most effective...

  • Story Listening and Guided Self-Selected Reading

    by Beniko Mason

    Abstract: The goal in Optimal Input language teaching is to develop “autonomous” acquirers of second languages; that is, to bring stu- dents to the point where they no longer need us and can continue to improve on their own (Krashen, 1998). Research over the last four decades has shown... (Note that minor corrections have been made from the published version.)

  • Story-Listening: A Brief Introduction

    by Beniko Mason and Stephen Krashen

    Abstract: In traditional foreign language classes, the vocabulary and grammar used in stories are deliberately placed there; the story is a way of helping students learn these items. Vocabulary lists and definitions are usually provided before the actual stories are presented or read, and exercises are provided after the stories are presented or read to help students remember the words and “master” them. In contrast, in Story-Listening (SL) the focus is on understanding and enjoying the story. The teacher makes the story more...

  • The Optimal Input Hypothesis

    by Stephen Krashen and Beniko Mason

    Abstract: A popular assumption is that any kind of input we provide in class is acceptable as long as it provides some comprehensible input. Thus, we can teach songs, put on a play, and lead the students in exercises, because they all involve some comprehension of messages. This is not correct. Comprehensible is not enough. There are other factors that make up “optimal input.” We present here the Optimal Input Hypothesis.

  • Story-Listening in Indonesia: A Replication Study

    by Beniko Mason, Ken Smith, and Stephen Krashen

    Abstract: This study reports on an attempted replication of four previous Story-Listening studies. Conducted with EFL students from five Asian countries, findings confirmed that subconscious vocabulary acquisition can not only occur from Story-Listening using Comprehension-Aiding Supplementation, but also confirmed that gains are durable.

  • Applying the Input (Reading) Hypothesis: Some history and a look ahead

    by Beniko Mason and Stephen Krashen

    Abstract: The Reading Hypothesis calls for students to do large amounts of interesting and comprehensible reading. When introduced in Japan, this presented a challenge to the established approach and resulted in a compromise, the eclectic approach, combining reading for meaning and Intensive Reading. Studies, however, consistently show that doing large amounts of self-selected reading, with no “skill-building” and no language study, results in impressive gains. We present a way of applying a pure version of the Reading Hypothesis that includes a neglected stage: large amounts of highly comprehensible and interesting reading. The goal of the program is to help students reach the level where they can do self-selected reading of authentic texts.

  • Direct Teaching of Vocabulary

    by Stephen Krashen and Beniko Mason

    Abstract: The goal of this paper is to discuss direct teaching of vocabulary using a skill building approach and aiming at rapid mastery. This includes pre-teaching vocabulary before a story or reading a text, interrupting the reading or listening with vocabulary lessons, abd post-story vocabulary instruction.

  • A note on comprehension checking

    by Stephen Krashen and Beniko Mason

    Abstract: Comprehension checks can be interpreted as a test, raise anxiety, and take the focus away from understanding. Instead, the focus will be on preparing for the comprehension question, which often means having a translation ready to demonstrate comprehension. Also, comprehension checking may send the message that students should fully understand every word and understand each word well enough to give an accurate translation, which is counter to what we know about vocabulary acquisition.

  • Guided SSR before Self-Selected Reading

    by Beniko Mason

    Abstract: The goal of the reading program is not only to help highly motivated students but also help every student reach the level where they can be an autonomous reader and thereby continue to make progress on their own after they leave the program. It has been reported that an initial pleasant experience, access to books, a time and place to read regularly, the freedom to choose one’s own books, no tests, no workbook exercises, and no rewards for reading are the basic conditions for developing a long-term reading habit. In this paper I would like to suggest including a stage, Guided Self-Selected Reading, which prepares students to become free voluntary readers

  • Hypothesis: A Class Supplying Rich Comprehensible Input is More Effective and Efficient than “Immersion”

    by Beniko Mason and Stephen Krashen

    Abstract: An acquirer of English as a foreign language had experiences in EFL classes that aimed to supply rich, interesting aural and written comprehensible input, traditional classes, and living in an English-speaking country. Her scores on the TOEIC examination support the hypothesis that the input-oriented classes were more effective and efficient, resulting in greater gains and more rapid gains.

  • Language and Language Teaching Vol. 8 January 2019

    by Editors: Rama Kant Angihotri, A. L. Khanna, Steven Krashen

    Abstract: Language Journal of Azim Premji University

  • An Interview with Beniko Mason

    by Stephen Krashen

    Abstract: Beniko Mason answers questions from Dr. Stephen Krashen about her work over the last 30 years, and shares her ideas about implicit and explicit instruction.

  • Some New Terminology: Comprehension-Aiding Supplementation and Form-Focusing Supplementation Language Learning and Teaching

    by Stephen Krashen, Beniko Mason, and Ken Smith

    Abstract: We introduce two terms in order to facilitate research and clarify practice: Comprehension-Aiding Supplementation (CAS) is designed to promote language acquisition, while Form-Focusing Supplementation (FFS) is designed to promote conscious learning.

  • A Pure Comprehension Approach: More Effective and Efficient than Eclectic Second Language Teaching?

    by Beniko Mason

    Abstract: For the last twenty years the question that I have been interested in is whether a method that is based on the strong version of the Input Hypothesis is possible, and if so, whether it is both more effective and efficient than the combination of implicit and explicit methods, i.e., an eclectic approach.

  • American Students’ Vocabulary Acquisition Rate in Japanese as a Foreign Language from Listening to a Story. Turkish Online Journal of English Language Teaching (TOJELT), 3(1), 6-9.

    by Beniko Mason & Stephen Krashen

    Abstract: The positive effects of listening to stories on second language development have been widely reported. In this study we investigated the rate of vocabulary acquisition by American high school students of Japanese-as-a-foreign-language from listening to a story told in Japanese just once. The rate was .17 words per minute, very similar to the rate reported for students in Japan acquiring English and German who also listened to a story just once.

  • Paths to Competence in Listening Comprehension

    by Stephen Krashen, University of Southern California, USA (Emeritus); Willy A. Renandya, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore; Beniko Mason, Shitennnoji University Junior College, Japan ; Pratheeba Bose, Kamuraj College of Engineering and Technology, India

    Abstract: We present two paths to increasing listening comprehension ability, one in-class and other in the country where the language is spoken. In both cases, we predict that those with higher reading ability in the second language will progress faster.

  • The Effect of Pleasure Reading Experience 30 Years Ago

    by Beniko Mason

    Abstract: This paper reports on a pleasure reading experience case. “Miyako” developed an English reading habit as a student in Japan 30 years ago and has continued pleasure reading in English since that time. She reads not to improve her English but because she enjoys it. In 2011, she started working for a company that required the TOEIC examination. Miyako achieved a near-perfect score and was awarded an $800 bonus from her company. At first she did not think she had done anything special to achieve this high level of English, and only later realized that her reading habit was the reason.

  • Sustained Silent Reading in Foreign Language Education: An Update

    by Stephen Krashen and Beniko Mason

    Abstract: Three meta-analyses of the effect of sustained silent reading are reviewed, all showing a consistently positive effect for self-selected reading in school, with most studies with EFL students. In addition, an important new study from Korea is analyzed: Despite less-than-optimal conditions, EFL students made impressive gains in vocabulary and reading that were consistent with previous results.

  • Self-Selected Reading and TOEIC Performance: Evidence from Case Histories 自主的にする読書のTOEICへの影響: 事例研究からの示唆

    by Beniko Mason and Stephen Krashen

    Abstract: Case histories are real science, as long as we do enough of them and pay attention to crucial characteristics of our subjects' experiences. The case studies presented here provide confirmation of central hypotheses in language acquisition and have interesting practical implications. Eight subjects, former students of the first author, reported the self-selected reading they did on their own time: the mean gain was .6 of a point per hour of reading on the TOEIC, with very little variation among subjects, even though they read different things.

  • Can Second Language Acquirers Reach High Levels of Proficiency Through Self-Selected Reading? An Attempt to Confirm Nation's (2014) Result. (2015)

    by Stephen Krashen and Beniko Mason

    Abstract: An analysis done by Nation (2014) leads to the conclusion that readers in English as a foreign language can gain about one-half a point on the TOEIC test for every hour of independent English reading. A statistical analysis of progress made by seven adult acquirers of English living in Japan was performed to confirm this conclusion: All were intermediates, but there was considerable variation, with TOEIC scores ranging from 220 to 705. All engaged in self-selected reading, and took pre and post TOEIC tests. Hours spent reading was shown to be an excellent predictor of gains on the TOEIC, and the rate of improvement was shown to be nearly exactly the same as that reported by Nation.

  • 英語教員を目指す教育学部2回生の現在の英単語力と今後の指導について (2015)

    by Beniko Mason

  • Can we increase the power of reading by adding communicative output activities? A comment on Song and Sardegna (2014)

    by Stephen Krashen, Beniko Mason, & Ken Smith

  • Self-Selected Pleasure Reading and Story Listening for Foreign Language Classrooms

    by Beniko Mason

  • Comprehension is the Key to Efficient Foreign Language Education - Self-Selected Reading and Story-Listening are the Solutions

    by Beniko Mason

  • Comprehension is the Key to Successful English Language Education Reform

    by Beniko Mason

  • The Case of Mr. Kashihara: Another Case of Substantial Gains in Reading and Listening without Output or Grammar Study

    by Beniko Mason (To be published in the IBU Journal 2013.)

  • The Efficient Use of Literature in Second Language Education: Free Reading and Listening to Stories

    by Beniko Mason

  • Substantial Gains in Listening and Reading Ability in English as a Second Language from Voluntary Listening and Reading in a 75 Year Old Student

    by Beniko Mason (Shitennoji University Junior College International Journal of Foreign Language Teaching (2013))

  • Necessary conditions for a successful Extensive Reading Program

    by Beniko Mason

  • Impressive gains on the TOEIC after one year of comprehensible input, with no output or grammar study, 7(1). November.

    by Beniko Mason (2011)

  • The Reality, Robustness, and Possible Superiority of Incidental Vocabulary Acquisition: Another Look at File and Adams

    by Beniko Mason and Stephen Krashen

  • The Effects and Efficiency of Hearing Stories on Vocabulary Acquisition by Students of German as a Second Foreign Language in Japan

    by Beniko Mason, Martina Vanata, Katrin Jander, Ramona Borsch, and Stephen Krashen

  • Interview

    by Ken Schmidt

  • The Efficiency of Self-Selected Reading and Hearing Stories on Adult Second Language Acquisition

    by Beniko Mason

  • TOEFL Preparation using Recreational Reading

    by Beniko Mason

  • Free Voluntary Reading and Autonomy in Second Language Acquisition: Improving TOEFL Scores from Reading Alone

    by Beniko Mason

  • Extensive Reading; Why do it, how to do it, how not to do it

    by Beniko Mason

  • The effect of adding supplementary writing to an extensive reading program

    by Beniko Mason

  • Teaching Reading to EFL Learners in Japan Using an Extensive Reading Approach

    by Beniko Mason

  • Can Extensive Reading Help Unmotivated Students of EFL Improve?

    by Beniko Mason and Stephen Krashen

  • The Practice and Effect of an Extensive Reading Program at University

    by Masuko Ikeda and Beniko Mason

  • The Details of the Extensive Reading Program at International Buddhist University

    by Beniko Mason and Tom Pendergast

    Abstract: This paper outlines the 13-year old Tadoku or Self-Selected Extensive Reading Program at International Buddhist University’s Junior college. The program’s classroom approach to Low Frequency Word Vocabulary acquisition utilizes storytelling to complement at-home reading (Goal:1,000 pp./semester; Actual: 700+pp). The paper sets forth the goals of the program, introduces a specifically-designed 30-page “Orientation to Tadoku” booklet, describes the home-reading and classroom storytelling elements, explains evaluation procedures and results, and defines the conditions for a successful Tadoku program.

  • Is Form-Focused Vocabulary Instruction Worth While?

    by Beniko Mason & Stephen Krashen

  • Extensive Reading In English As A Foreign Language

    by Beniko Mason and Stephen Krashen

    Abstract: Three experiments confirm the value of extensive reading in English as a foreign language (ELF). In extensive reading, students do self-selected reading with only minimal accountability, writing brief summaries or comments on what they have read. In Experiment 1, "reluctant" EFL students at the university level in Japan did extensive reading for one semester. They began the semester far behind traditionally taught comparison students on a cloze test, but nearly caught up to them by the end of the semester. In Experiment 2, extensive readers outperformed traditionally taught students at both a prestigious university and a two-year college. In Experiment 3, extensive readers who wrote summaries in English made significantly better gains on a cloze test than a comparison class that devoted a great deal of time to cloze exercises. Gains made by extensive readers who wrote in Japanese were greater than comparisons, but the difference was not significant. Those who wrote in Japanese, however, made gains superior to both groups on a measure of writing and in reading speed.

  • Vocabulary Acquisition through Storytelling (2005)

    by Beniko Mason

    Abstract: It has been demonstrated that vocabulary acquisition is possible from listening to stories (Elley, 1989), but it has also been argued that this source of vocabulary is insufficient and inefficient, that students need direct instruction as well (e.g. Nation, 1990). In this study, I attempt to confirm that listening to stories leads to the acquisition of vocabulary as well as to determine how efficient this acquisition is, i.e., how it compares to direct instruction.

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