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Extensive Reading Motivating Students to Read Dr. Vivienne Yu © Vivienne Yu 2002 The value of extensive reading How to encourage students to read extensively Integrating extensive reading into the TBL curriculum The value of extensive reading

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extensive reading

Extensive Reading

MotivatingStudents to Read

Dr. Vivienne Yu

© Vivienne Yu 2002

The value of extensive reading
  • How to encourage students to read extensively
  • Integrating extensive reading into the TBL curriculum

It provides exposure to extensive comprehensible language and is

therefore highly beneficial for language acquisition and literacy development

Extensive - a wide range of texts

a large number of books

Comprehensive - of the right level

  • Revisiting vocabulary and structures in different books and contexts
  • reinforcing understanding of story structure ie. introduction, setting (place and time), characters, plot (problem or goal), episodes or events, resolution
  • Extensive practice of reading skills such as word attack skills, meaning attack skills, prediction skills → fluent reading
  • Extensive exposure to language not usually encountered in textbooks and simplified readers

It is an important source of ideas and information

It can nurture a good reading habit


Read faster

Learn more

Enjoy more

Language improvement

Sustained exposure / reading habit

Cycle of growth

Extensive reading – increased exposure – cycle of growth (Nuttall 1996)

Extensive reading helps student to become fluent, independent readers

who are interested in reading.

Read more



Problems identified by teachers:

Lower forms

No interest in reading

Some books are boring

Reading-related activities are boring e.g. taking tests

Lack of vocabulary knowledge and so find reading difficult

Upper forms

No time to read : need to prepare for examinations

Reading materials are too difficult


Not motivated

Not aware of the benefits of ERS

Lack confidence in reading

  • Books / reading materials need to be interesting and not too difficult
  • Students need to develop reading skills - e.g. how to guess

words from context, activate background knowledge, read

for implied meaning etc

  • Reading-related activities should be interesting and creative
  • A reading culture should be developed in the school
1 choosing suitable reading materials for an extensive reading programme
1. Choosing suitable reading materials for an extensivereading programme
  • Compare passages in the course books with stories for extensive reading. Are they different? Which are more interesting?
  • What kinds of books are suitable for extensive reading?
  • How do we find out about the interests of the students?
  • How do we grade books? Note that the input must be ‘comprehensible’!
characteristics of good books
Characteristics of good books

The content is rich and varied

  • Entertaining

Contain interesting and imaginative characters, themes, events and situations

The illustrations are attractive and provide appropriate support

The language is rich and creative

Good books?

Children can respond to them


What books / materials?

  • L2 readers

Reading schemes for English-speaking children (including picture books)

L1 books for leisure reading

adolescent literature

movie books

popular series – teenage fiction


Magazines / CD-Roms / websites



  • Allow ‘subliterature’ e.g. movie books (Home Alone, Jurassic Park), the Apple series, The Bailey school kids, Goosebumps etc.
  • Let your students choose topics / authors they like
  • Get them hooked onto a series!!!

Finding out about the interests of students

  • What do you like to do in your spare time?
  • Do you enjoy reading?
  • Which of these do you like to read? Tick in the columns
If you like stories, what sort do you like?

What sort of books do you like best of all?

If you like to read books about true things, what kind of things do you enjoy?

What T.V. programmes do you enjoy watching?

2 helping students overcome reading difficulties
2. Helping students overcome reading difficulties


  • Too bottom-up in approach – too much concentration on individual words. If they get stuck with a word, they do not know how to go on. (Even place or people’s names)
  • Do not know how to activate background knowledge in reading
  • Do not know how to work out ‘implied meaning’
suggestions for helping students overcome these problems
Suggestions for helping students overcome these problems

Cloze reading (to develop ability to tolerate vagueness and to guess words from context)

Think-aloud protocol (to help develop awareness of the importance of background information)

Predicting the ending of short stories

Discussion of plot, characters, setting, problem, resolution etc through story frames and story maps

Read more!!! ‘We learn to read by reading’ (Smith 1978, Nuttall 1996)


Nuttall, C (1996) Teaching Reading Skills in a Foreign Language. London: Heinemann

Smith, F (1978) Reading. Cambridge: CUP


3. Including reading-related activities that are interesting and enjoyable inyour extensive reading lessons in addition to USSR (Uninterrupted sustained silent reading)

Teachers acting as facilitator and motivator (Readers are made by readers)


Introducing stories and recommending books in class

Using a multimedia approach - watch a related movie etc

Psychological preparation

Discussing a book with students (small group or individual conferences)

Teacher reading a book herself


Creating a reading community in class (Peer support and sharing are essential)SuggestionsLiterature circlesReaders’ and writers’ workshopsReaders’ theatreConferencing with and writing to book authorsPublishing students’ stories in the form of ‘small books’


Providing a print-rich environment (Easy access to books is important)


Class libraries

Display corner for ‘Book of the month’, ‘Author of the month’

Display corner for students’ work e.g. letters to the authors, book cover design.


4. Developing a reading culture in school

A whole school approach

Eg. Book week to celebrate literacy:

- Book character day

- Graphic display of number of books read by the entire school

in the form of a bookworm that ‘grows’ around the school

- Book talks by authors and community leaders


Display of English books in the library – a book corner (Change it every month) – can adopt a theme (Detective stories) or an author approach (Roald Dahl)

Display of students’ work, like book reviews, letters to

the authors, book cover designs

Board displays with slogans – e.g. Reading is fun!

Activities to promote reading e.g. story-telling competition, drama competition, book report competition, best readers of the class, the form, the month etc.


Surveys on books

Teachers’ recommendations (the ten best books) in school newsletters

Opportunities to borrow books in the summer and the holidays

Enlist the help of parents


Extensive reading is an important source

of ideas and language for carrying out tasks

in the English language curriculum


For example

Task: Write a letter to a friend asking for help and advice

Students each choose a character from a book they have read. They pretend to

be the character and write the letter

e.g. The Pied Piper of Hamelin - The mayor of the town asks a friend to

suggest ways of getting rid of the rats.

The Three Little Pigs – The pigs ask for ways to protect themselves

from wild animals

Task: Produce a radio play

Students who have read the same book can work as a group to

produce a radio play based on the book

ie. different groups will produce different plays


Task: A project based on the theme ‘Animals’

Students can make use of the animal stories / books they have

read in doing some of the tasks, e.g. they create / publish their own animal

stories in the form of small books.

Task: The most popular character

Each student nominates a character from the books he/she has read

and draws a picture / writes a short description of the character.

The whole class vote to decide on who the most popular character is


Task: Students create a new ending to a story they have read

Task: Students design new book covers, book marks or

cartoon strips based on a story they like

There is more variety in the students’ work because they have read

different books


Extensive reading materials should be actively used in completing

tasks in the TBL curriculum

Students will be motivated to read if:

  • The books / reading materials chosen are interesting and of appropriate level
  • They are helped to develop reading skills
  • The reading-related activities are interesting and creative
  • There is a reading culture in school