While there is agreement that recreational reading is helpful, it can be asked whether reading should be supplemented with other activities in order to produce the best results. Can recreational reading be enhanced by the use of supplementary activities? Can we, in other words, increase the power of reading? A wide range of supplementary activities are possible, but the supplement that appears to be the most popular is to include writing that is related to what has been read.
It may come as a surprise to many readers, but there is no evidence that writing alone increases language or literacy proficiency, that is, increasing the amount of writing done does not increase proficiency. Reviews of first language studies can be found in Krashen (1993). Burger (1989) reported that adding an extra class on writing, which included correction of students' written errors, had no impact on gains in English proficiency on a variety of measures for adult students of ESL taking sheltered classes in Canada. Tsang (1996) reported that Hong Kong middle and high school students who participated in an after-school extensive reading program lasting 24 weeks made better gains in writing than comparison students who did extra writing rather than reading. Not yet investigated, however, is whether a program integrating reading and writing will be more efficient and effective than reading alone.
It can be argued that writing alone is insufficient, that writing requires feedback on form, that is, grammar correction, to be effective. Once again, the research is discouraging. Several reviews have concluded that the impact of correction is very limited: In many cases, there is no impact at all on accuracy, and when an effect is present it is very modest and confined to situations in which students are heavily focused on form (Truscott, 1996; Krashen, 2002). Not yet investigated, however, is whether grammar correction on student written output can enhance the impact of reading.
It is important to continue to investigate the impact of output and grammar correction, despite the lack of supporting empirical evidence so far, and to continue to see under what conditions they might be effective. It is nearly an unquestioned assumption that "we learn to write by writing" and many students request correction of form (e.g. Cathcart and Olsen, 1976).