Many, many ESL students are not making enough progress in their English here in the United States, especially in Los Angeles. There are many immigrant families here. The government and the state have spent so much money trying to improve their English skills. We’ve been running so many ESL classes for so many years, but many students still cannot speak and cannot write. Normally three years should be enough time to learn a language in a country where the language is spoken. What happened to students’ learning and what happened to our teaching?
One reason, I believe, is that students have not received enough input. According to research, an average ESL student learn 2,500 new words a year. When I tell this to my students on the first day of the class, they are all surprised. They think that will be too many words, and they can’t remember that many new words. Actually it only means 7-8 new words a day. If they are learning English every day, they are learning that many new words. Then the next question is how to remember new words. Again according to research, the new word must be seen 7-9 times in different context in their reading before the students can remember the word and know how to use the word. Here we can imagine how much reading students need to do. Are they doing that much reading? If not, they are not receiving enough input. Doing exercises takes them a lot of time. Some exercise may not be worth it if it is taking students too much time. The same amount of time to be spent on reading might be more effective in improving their English.