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 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 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 Variables 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 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 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 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 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 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 Explain the differences between IR and ER
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 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 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 “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 “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? 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? 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 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 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.extensivereading.net http://www.robwaring.org/er/ http://www.erfoundation.org http://groups.yahoo.com/group/ExtensiveReading/ http://www.seg.co.jp/sss/ (Japanese and English)
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
Homework 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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