Why not read the backs of cereal boxes?

I wonder if there’s an issue here, looking at the latest issue of Backseat Linguist. They report a study in which students in Japan were to read a certain number of words to determine the efficacy of reading for acquisition. (http://backseatlinguist.com/blog/), It turns out they just had to read so many words, a lot but not connected to anything. They had no choice in what they read other than the right to select something from a list.
May I ask if these researchers read that way themselves? Let me give them a choice: a list of Readers Digest articles or a Patrick O’Brian Capt. Jack Aubrey novel. So why not let them pick their own reading? I force myself to read stuff in order to boot strap myself in order to get to a useful level in a fl. Fortunately, some textbooks offer more than others. Latin fables are fun, Norwegian troll stories, Greek tragedy (3 little coffins and the mother still listening for who is coughing – aaauugh!) Poems in Urdu can be haunting. Stuff that makes you WANT to read. Good lord!
A good read on this kind of dense thinking is Frank Smith, most anything, but Joining the Literacy Club is great on the dumb research methods in reading. He is one of Krashen’s favorite authors.

One Comment

  1. Judith Dubois says:

    I’m sure there’s a big difference between reading anything that is enjoyable and reading anything. Our concentration and engagement are not the same. If the study did not take this into account, their results are skewed.

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