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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

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Promoting extensive reading

Promoting Extensive Reading

Rob Waring

Extensive Reading Symposium

Sookmyung University Nov 14, 2009

The aim of graded reading er
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

To build reading speed

To be enjoyable – so they read more

To build depth of knowledge

To consolidate and strengthen partly known language

Types of er
Types of ER

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

Self–selected teacher selected

Lots of reading very little

Out of class reading In class reading

No follow up lots of follow up

(discussion / language work)

Er program types
ER Program types

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.

Er program types summary
ER program types - summary

Many different types of ER program

Different aims

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

Understanding their program
Understanding their program

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?

Ways to promote er emotional
Ways to promote ER - Emotional

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.

Ways to promote er logical
Ways to promote ER - Logical

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

Comparison of ir and er
Comparison of IR and ER

Explain the differences between IR and ER

Ways to promote er mathematical
Ways to promote ER - Mathematical

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

Promoting er the data
Promoting ER – the data

Furukawa (2009)

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)

Mogi (2008)

“from the view point of neuroscience, the best way to make progress in learning English is … to read as many English sentences as possible.”

Promoting er showing how er fits
Promoting ER – Showing how ER fits

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

Dealing with objections
Dealing with objections

“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

Dealing with objections ii
Dealing with objections II

“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.

Why do er programs fail
Why do ER programs fail?

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’

Why do er programs fail ii
Why do ER programs fail II?

Curriculum changes

Change to ‘test’ / speaking / CLT ….. focus

ER enthusiast leaves the school

Inappropriate materials

Reading is too difficult

Age inappropriate

Books don’t get replaced when lost

Starting badly

Too fast, Too high, Too much to read too soon

Students don’t understand why they need ER

Promoting adopting er
Promoting / adopting 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’

Introducing er to newbies
Introducing ER to newbies

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 (Japanese and English)

Things to recommend to newbies
Things to recommend to newbies

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

  • Why do it

  • How to do it / setting up a program

  • Selecting the best books / materials

    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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