An Introduction toExtensive Reading Richard R. Day, Ph.D. Professor, Department of Second Language Studies University of Hawaii
Purpose To explain in depth the ten principles that serve as the foundation for an extensive reading approach
Extensive Reading • Extensive reading involves students in reading large quantities of material in the new language. The goal often goes beyond learning to read; ER can improve students' overall language proficiency and their attitudes toward English and motivation for learning. It can be used with any language course and program, regardless of the focus or methodology.
Extensive Reading • Extensive reading involves students reading a lot of easy, interesting books that they select themselves. • There are no comprehension questions. • Students often do activities based on the books they have read.
The Goals of ER • To improve students' overall language proficiency, • their attitudes toward English, and • motivation for learning.
Ten Principles of ER • The reading material is easy.
Books must be well within the learners' reading ability in English. They must be easy. For beginners, more than two or three unknown words per page might make the text too difficult for overall understanding. Intermediate learners might use the rule of hand—no more than five difficult words per page.
EFL teachers are lucky because a great variety of high-quality language learner literature (graded readers) is published for learners of all ability levels.
2. There must be a wide variety of reading material on a large range of topics.
The success of extensive reading depends on students reading. To encourage students to read, we need to have a lot of different books on many different topics or subjects.
3. Learners choose what they want to read. What to read How to read Where to read When to read When to stop reading Similar to reading in their first language
Learners read as much as possible.We know that the most important element in learning to read is the amount of time spent actually reading.
Silent, individual extensive reading is “real reading.” It allows students to discover that reading is a personal interaction with the book.
The purpose of reading is usually related to pleasure, information and general understanding.
There are no comprehension questions. • Students don’t write book reports. • They don’t translate the book to their first language.
Reading rate, enjoyment and comprehension are closely linked with one another. Students need to stop using their dictionaries when they come across words they don’t understand. Looking up words in dictionaries slows down readers.
Enjoy • Enjoy • Enjoy
Extensive reading is very different from usual classroom practices. Students accustomed to wading through difficult texts in English might drown when suddenly plunged into a sea of simple and stimulating material.
Introducing Extensive Reading • Explain the benefits of reading extensively to your students. • Tell them that a general, less than 100%, understanding of what they read is appropriate for most reading purposes.
Emphasize that there will be no test after reading a book. • Introduce the library of reading materials and explain how it is divided into difficulty levels.
Guiding students • Keep track of what and how much each student reads, and your students’ reactions to what was read. • Encourage them to read as widely as possible and, as their language ability, reading ability and confidence increase, to expand their reading comfort zone.
Is reading caught or taught? • Students do not just (or even) learn the subject matter we teach them; they learn their teachers. • We are selling reading.
Putting ER into the Curriculum • A stand-alone course • An addition to an existing course • An extra-curricular activity (e.g., an after school club) • During the homeroom period
An addition to an existing course • ER is extra; the course remains the same. • Most reading is done outside class • Do some reading in class. • Give credit for ER. • Do ER activities in class to monitor students’ reading and to enhance incidental language learning.
Tracking Student Reading • ER journals: Students report weekly what they have read.
Tracking Student Reading • ER journals • Individual conferences • Activities that help teachers determine if students have read what they report reading
Evaluating ER • Use reading targets • Give credit for reading • Monitor reading by doing ER activities • Individual interviews