We greatly appreciate Newton’s (2017) thoughtful and lucid response to our article, which takes the discussion forward in interesting ways. However, points of disagreement remain.

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Firstly, Newton questions whether most English learners have adequate mother-tongue text-handling skills; but it seems implausible that fifty per cent or more of learners cannot easily read newspapers or assimilate news broadcasts in their own languages. Certainly, not everyone possesses the higher-level interpretive skills demanded by some text-based teaching activities. But our task is surely, in most cases, to teach people to do in English some of what they can do in their mother tongues, not to address perceived deficiencies in their education.

Newton’s research citations are interesting. However, Goh’s (2000) students’ post hoc reports of listening difficulties simply demonstrate that the pressure of achieving low-level decoding in real time can block access...

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