The aim of this presentation is to study the efficiency of comprehension-based methodology in second language acquisition (Krashen 1985).
Study 1: Reading and listening alone
Two groups of college students in Japan participated in an English class in which they listened to stories in English told by a teacher in class and read graded readers at home. One group consisted of English majors who took six other English classes using a skill-based approach, and the other consisted of Preschool Education majors who took no other English classes. Both groups improved, but the Preschool Education students’ gains per hour of class-time were far greater on reading, writing and vocabulary; they were, in other words, more efficient.
Study 2: Efficient vocabulary gain from listening to stories alone
The purpose of these studies was to determine whether Japanese beginning level students with limited vocabulary in German could sustain their interest in hearing a story for over 20 minutes, and to determine how much vocabulary could be gained just from listening to stories, without a list to memorize and without supplementary vocabulary exercises. The first experiment showed that listening to a story had a higher acquisition/learning rate than a list method. The second and third experiments showed that supplementary focus-on-form activities were not worthwhile in vocabulary acquisition/learning, and that the rate of acquisition/learning was .10 words per minute during the seven weeks. It appears to be the case that students acquire six words per hour when they hear stories, while they learn 2.4 words per hour in traditional classes.
Study 3: Efficient TOEFL preparation from reading alone
This study provided evidence that Japanese students who do self-selected reading in English only during vacation gained as much on the TOEFL as those who took a TOEFL preparation class.
Beniko Mason teaches English using graded readers and fairy/folk tales. Her students range from children to older adults. Many of her publications are available at www.benikomason.net.