Extensive Reading in Foreign Language Development


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Overview and Purpose

The topic of this mini-course is to provide educators with insights and strategies of extensive reading (ER) in foreign language acquisition.

Questions that would be covered:

  • What is ER and why is it recommended for foreign language learning?
  • Is ER an alternative way to develop vocabulary in the target language?
  • What are other benefits of ER in foreign language acquisition?
  • How can teachers implement ER in language class?
  • How should learners start ER?

Needs Assessment

Instructional problem:

Extensive reading (ER) is also called “Tadoku (=extensive reading in Japanese),” “pleasure reading (Mikulecky,1990),” “free voluntary reading (Krashen, 1993) ,” “Sustained Silent Reading (SSR),” and the like, and is a major recommended method of learning languages. Many researchers also agree that “the more you do it, the more fluent and skillful you become” and that learners need rich, healthy exposure to the target language. Regardless, intensive and careful reading with summary assignments or comprehension check questions has been widely used and more emphasized in many Japanese language classes in reality. One of the reasons for this is educators’ lack of understanding of ER, its benefits for foreign language learners (from the beginning level), and teaching principles to implement ER effectively. According to an inquiry among teachers worldwide taken by Maley, the answers to the question, “why teachers don’t use ER more often” were like the following:

a) Insufficient time.

b) Too costly.

c) Reading materials not available.

d) ER not linked to the syllabus and the examination.

e) Lack of understanding of ER and its benefits.

f) Downward pressure on teachers to conform to syllabi and textbooks.

g) Resistance from teachers, who find it impossible to stop teaching and to allow learning to take place.

This course will provide educators with opportunities to gain a better understanding of the benefits and some strategies of extensive reading in foreign language learning.

The nature of what is to be learned:

The target audience will learn about extensive reading and some strategies on how to start it for their teaching/learning approaches effectively.

About the learners:

The main target audience is Japanese language instructors in the USA, whose students have limited opportunities to be exposed to the target language. The backgrounds of adult language learners in the USA are diverse from different countries across the world.

Generate goals:

The goals for this course are for the target audience to gain a better understanding of ER and strategies on how to start ER for their learners or for their own language learning experience. By the end of the course, the target audience will be able to evaluate strategies and choose some techniques to incorporate ER into their individual needs.

Performance Objectives

Target audiences of this course will be able to:

  • Understand the theory of extensive reading (ER).
  • Explain the benefits of ER.
  • Exhibit self-knowledge to effectively implement ER in their language teaching/learning approach.

Course Units

This mini-course includes the following units. Click the title of a unit to go to its page.

Unit 1: What is ER?

  • Theory and background of ER
  • IR and ER
  • Characteristics of ER
  • Educational practice of ER

Unit 2: What is the value of ER in foreign language learning?

  • Overall benefits of ER
  • Advantages and disadvantages of ER
  • The effects of ER on vocabulary development

Unit 3: How to implement ER well to support foreign language learning

  • Techniques of ER
  • Key principles of ER
  • ER approaches
  • ER in class

Extended Resources

Aliyeva, M. S. (2021). Advantages and disadvantages of extensive reading. https://www.conferencepublication.com/index.php/aoc/article/download/1253/1351

Arizona State University. Video 2: Extensive reading techniques. Retrieved from https://www.coursera.org/lecture/tesol-writing/video-2-extensive-reading-techniques-XTAgV

Bamford, J. & Day, R. R. (1997, May). Extensive Reading: What Is It? Why Bother? The Language Teacher. Retrieved from https://jalt-publications.org/tlt/articles/2132-extensive-reading-what-it-why-bother

Day, R. R. (2015, Oct.). Extending extensive reading. Reading in a Foreign Language Volume 27, No. 2 ISSN 1539-0578 pp. 294–301 Retrieved from https://files.eric.ed.gov/fulltext/EJ1078441.pdf

Day, R. R., & Bamford, J. (2002). Top ten principles for teaching extensive reading. Reading in a Foreign Language, 14, 136–141. Retrieved from http://www2.hawaii.edu/~readfl/rfl/October2002/day/day.html

Donaghy, K. (2016). Seven benefits of extensive reading for English language students. Retrieved from http://kierandonaghy.com/seven-benefits-extensive-reading-english-language-students/

Extensive reading. Retrieved from https://www.teachingenglish.org.uk/article/extensive-reading

Extensive reading: why it is good for our students and for us. Retrieved from https://www.teachingenglish.org.uk/article/extensive-reading-why-it-good-our-students-us

Hill, D. R. (1997) Setting up an extensive reading programme: Practical tips. The language teacher. Retrieved from readinghttps://jalt-publications.org/tlt/articles/2135-setting-extensive-reading-programme-practical-tips

Krashen, S. (2004). Free voluntary reading: New Research, Applications, and Controversies. Paper presented at the RELC conference, Singapore, April 2004 Retrieved from http://www.sdkrashen.com/content/articles/singapore.pdf

Maley, A. Extensive reading: why it is good for our students and for us https://www.teachingenglish.org.uk/article/extensive-reading-why-it-good-our-students-us

Macalister, J. & Elgort, I. (2019). Two approaches to extensive reading and their effects on L2 vocabulary development. https://www.researchgate.net/publication/336568551_Two_approaches_to_extensive_reading_and_their_effects_on_L2_vocabulary_development

101 ideas for extensive reading and listening http://www.robwaring.org/er/what_and_why/101_ideas.htm

ReadOasis. (2016, Dec. 3). The Benefits of Extensive Reading Part 1 [video] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=csWOeVpbF4U&list=WL&index=73

The extensive reading foundation. Evidence that ER works. Retrieved from https://erfoundation.org/wordpress/evidence/

University of London. The benefits of extensive reading. https://www.coursera.org/lecture/esl-reading/the-benefits-of-extensive-reading-WHsoV

What is extensive reading? Retrieved from https://www.er-central.com/contributors/learn-about-extensive-reading-and-listening/what-is-extensive-reading/