Promoting Extensive Reading. Rob Waring Extensive Reading Symposium Sookmyung University Nov 14, 2009. The aim of graded reading / ER. To recycle important and useful words and grammar time and time and time again to aid acquisition To provide massive fluent reading practice
Promoting Extensive Reading
Extensive Reading Symposium
Sookmyung University Nov 14, 2009
To recycle important and useful words and grammar time and time and time again to aid acquisition
To provide massive fluent reading practice
To build reading speed
To be enjoyable – so they read more
To build depth of knowledge
To consolidate and strengthen partly known language
Minimum requirements for ER
Easy - no dictionary needed
Fast - at a good speed and with minimum pauses
High comprehension - almost everything is understood
Fun – so they continue reading
No assessment test / reports / exercises
Lots of readingvery little
Out of class readingIn class reading
No follow up lots of follow up
(discussion / language work)
Purist ER program
Lots of self-selected reading at home with no / little assessment or follow up. Often is a stand-alone class.
Integrated ER program
Lots of self-selected reading at home and in class. Follow up exercises / reports which aim to build the 4 skills.
Class reading - study
Students read the same book and work through it slowly. Lots of follow up / comprehension work and exercises.
ER as ‘literature’
Students read the same book and discuss it as if it were a work of literature.
Many different types of ER program
Different levels of involvement for teachers / students
Some programs may adopt two or more types at the same time
Some programs can start more easily than others
Each type is scalable – from a single class to a whole school
No ‘best’ type for all programs
How much time does their curriculum allow?
How flexible is it? How much time for homework?
Make a new ER course? Add to an existing one?
Do they have suitable materials?
Budget? (one off or recurring?) Staff?
How will they manage the materials? Library? Class bags?
What borrowing systems do they need?
How will the reading be assessed?
Graded or not? Formal or informal assessment?
Reading makes you smart
learn about the human condition
learn about other cultures / places / people etc.
Reading is enjoyable
it enriches your life and can open worlds
Reading is good language practice
it’s the only realistic language skill most students may need
allows them to read web pages, magazines etc.
Course books only can introduce language elements
Course books can’t teach everything – too much to learn / do
Vocabulary selection in courses tends to be topical and not systematically selected
Course books are mostly linear in design
Typically, course books repeat the average word only 2-3 times in the whole series
Course books don’t teach more than a few collocations, sentence patterns and multi-word phrases
Explain the differences between IR and ER
Learners need 8-9000 words to read native texts at 98% coverage (i.e. with high levels of comprehension)
Learners need about 2000 words to be intermediate level
It takes 20-30 meetings with a word to learn it receptively (even more for production)
Graded readers recycle the vocabulary systematically by frequency and usefulness to aid DEPTH of knowledge and allow learners to meet collocations, phrases and so on they won’t meet in course books
2 years of ER gives 2nd grade JH students an equivalent reading level of 3rd grade HS students (even taking into account time on task and extra time studying English)
“from the view point of neuroscience, the best way to make progress in learning English is … to read as many English sentences as possible.”
Course books and graded readers are two sides of the same coin – they help each other
Course books introduce language
Graded readers help deepen / strengthen this knowledge
Graded reading should be integrated into our courses. It should not be an option
Choose books at the right level for your students (so they can read fluently with high levels of understanding and without a dictionary)
Students need to learn to listen fluently too
“The books are too easy and childish. They are not learning anything.”
-> easy is good - so they can build reading speed. Choose books are at the student’s fluent reading level
-> Native materials are too hard, demotivating, inappropriate
-> ‘intermediate’ learners can’t read intermediate graded readers
“I’m not teaching so they aren’t learning”
-> our job is not to ‘teach’ but to help people learn, build independence, reading speed, fluency etc. etc.
“I don’t know how to do it, or where to get information”
-> I’ll help
“Nice idea but I have no time in my course”
-> If you don’t have graded reading where will your students get the massive exposure they need?
-> How else will they get the ‘sense of language’ they need?
“We don’t have the money for this”
-> Ask your schools to reallocate funds so this reading is done; ask for donations; get some free samples etc.
“We have to go through our set curriculum”
-> Speak with your course designers to build in graded reading. Re-allocate resources and re-set class hours
“We have to prepare the students for tests”
-> Research shows students perform better on tests if they have a general sense of language, not a deconstructed ‘bitty’ one.
ER is optional. If it’s optional:
students will opt out
the message is ‘do the reading if you have time, it’s not as important as other things’
the administrators don’t see it as valuable
it becomes a target to be cut out completely
ER should be REQUIRED. Requiring ER means:
the teachers value this reading, so we want you to do it.
it’s part of the full course work – and you’ll be graded on it.
the students see it as ‘natural’ and ‘normal’ not an ‘option’
Change to ‘test’ / speaking / CLT ….. focus
ER enthusiast leaves the school
Reading is too difficult
Books don’t get replaced when lost
Too fast, Too high, Too much to read too soon
Students don’t understand why they need ER
Work within the system – don’t expect miracles
Understand where teachers / institutions are coming from – find out their aims
What is at stake for them / what would prevent them from adopting ER? Solve those problems first.
If they mistake the meaning of ER, then used the term ‘graded reading’
Demonstrate with an intensive reading book to show the differences between ER and IR
Leave publisher catalogs and ER booklets with them
Offer to speak to their staff and students – set up workshops
Show them what you do, your library, your methods etc
Be a contact point for their questions
Direct them to websites
http://www.seg.co.jp/sss/ (Japanese and English)
Start small – their own class and then expand later
Go slowly at first – new things take time
Look for potential problems when expanding and think what they can do about them. Help them with ideas
Experiment with different styles of ER to see what suits them and their learners
Set aims for the students, the program and themselves
Be aware that things don’t always go well – so they need your support
Aim to improve / introduce ER at your own institutions
Help another institution to start a program
Give a talk / lecture about ER
Become a contact point in your local area
Write an article on your ER program (ERJ???)
Openly discuss successes and failures
Write your own graded readers
Do some ER action research
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