According to Wikipedia, extensive reading is:
“Extensive reading, free reading, book flood, or reading for pleasure is a way of language learning, including foreign language learning, through large amounts of reading. As well as facilitating acquisition of vocabulary, it is believed to increase motivation through positive affective benefits.”
Now that you know what is is, should you be using it in your ESL/EFL classroom? If yes, how can you do it? Find out the answers to these questions by reading more!
Extensive Reading for English Learners
The best speakers of English are those that can read fluently. Extensive reading is an excellent way to learn a language the natural way. Extensive reading means reading for enjoyment and to develop general reading skills. It can be compared with intensive reading, which means reading in detail with specific learning aims and tasks. For example, to answer a set of questions based on the reading.
English Grammar and Vocabulary used in the Real World
Extensive reading helps you see how grammar and vocabulary are used in the real world. You’ll see all the stuff you’ve probably learned from a textbook in a natural context. Keep in mind two things: you should choose something at a slightly lower level, so you’re able to read for pleasure, and you shouldn’t stop and get out the dictionary every two seconds. This will make you feel frustrated and you’ll probably give up!
Not Too Difficult
My general rule of thumb is that you shouldn’t use your dictionary more than once per page. If you do, the book is too difficult for you if your purpose is extensive reading (reading for fun!). In this case, put that book back on your bookshelf and get an easier one. Test out the book before you borrow it from the library or buy it from the store. Read one page and see how you do. Can you understand almost everything relatively easily? Good! Start with that one.
Students Have Freedom to Choose What they Want to Read
A key concept in extensive reading is that students should have a variety of books to choose from in a variety of different genres. This will allow them lots of freedom and they’ll hopefully be able to find something that interests this. This will in turn increase motivation in a big way.
I recommend checking with your school to see if they have graded readers already. If not, there may be a budget for this so check and see if you can get your hands on a small English library for the purpose of doing extensive reading in your classes.
Start with Teen Fiction
I always suggest to my students that they start with teen fiction. The stories are quite interesting (I like reading them too!) and the language is less difficult. Once you’ve mastered that genre, it’s time to start reading more difficult stuff like in-depth magazine articles, or adult fiction.
- Amazon Kindle Edition
- Bolen, Jackie (Author)
- English (Publication Language)
- 107 Pages - 02/16/2020 (Publication Date)
What is the Teacher’s Role in Extensive Reading?
There are numerous things that English teachers can do to make a reading program for ESL students as successful as possible. Here are just a few of them:
- Provide a selection of books at different levels
- Help students choose an appropriate one to their level and interest
- Counsel individual students to see how their reading is going
- Require occassional summaries (written or oral) from the students about what they’re reading.
Top 10 Extensive Reading Ideas for ESL/EFL Students
Some suggestions in the teen fiction genre you might enjoy are the following. Clicking the links below will take you to the book on Amazon.
1. The Hunger Games Series
2. The Twilight Series
3. The Harry Potter Series
4. His Dark Materials Series
5. A Wrinkle in Time
6. Charlotte’s Web
7 The Giver
8. To Kill a Mockingbird
9. The Anne of Green Gables Series
10. The Chronicles of Narnia
What are the Benefits of Extensive Reading? Top 8
There are numerous benefits to extensive reading for language learners. Here are a few of the most important ones:
- Becoming a better reader
- Vocabulary acquisition (Stephen Krashen’s comprehensible input theory)
- Writing skills improvement
- General language skill improvement in all areas
- Students can learn to enjoy reading
- Increased motivation to read for fun because students choose what they want to read
- Learner autonomy
What about Extensive Reading in the ESL Classroom?
If you’re a teacher considering using extensive reading in your classes, then here are a few thoughts to consider.
You may be tempted to assign free reading for homework. I certainly like this idea, but in my experience, most students won’t actually end up doing it. You can assign things like a book review, but many students will just end up reading the summary on the Internet. You’ll largely have to depend on honesty and self-reporting so whatever you do, don’t assign too many points for this.
You may also consider doing free reading in class. Perhaps the first or last 15 minutes of class. I like this idea a lot and think there are certainly a lot of benefits. It’s ideal for ensuring that reading actually happens. Plus, you can choose books that at the appropriate level and subject matter for your students.
The only problem is that you’ll have to bring these books with you to each class, and may also have to purchase them with your own money. Ideally, you’d have a dedicated classroom and small budget to facilitate this. If yes, then make it happen!
Another thing to consider is how often you see your students. Once a week is a bit of a stretch for students to remember what they read the previous session. Twice or even three times a week is better. And certainly don’t consider it if you work in a public school in Korea for example and only see each group of students twice a month for example.
Paul Nation on Vocabulary Acquisition and Extensive Reading
Paul Nation is the guy who popularized extensive reading for language acquisition. Find out some of his thoughts about using it to learn new vocabulary.
Did you like this Reading for ESL Adults Tip?
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- English (Publication Language)
If you liked this tip about extensive reading for English language learners, then you’ll need to check out Study Tips to Learn English Faster: Become Fluent Quickly and Easily. There are 200+ ideas for how you can learn English quickly and easily.
The authors, Jackie Bolen and Jennifer Booker Smith have taught English to students from around the world for almost 30 years. In this book, they’ve put together all the advice they’ve given students during that time for how to improve their English skills. Reading, writing, listening, speaking, grammar + vocabulary, and English proficiency exams. If you’re ready to level up your English, you’ve most definitely come to the right place.
The book is available on Amazon in both digital and print formats. The (cheaper!) digital one can be read on any device by downloading the free Kindle reading app. Better English awaits you! Check out the book on Amazon today:
Have your Say about Extensive Reading for English Language Learners
Do you use extensive reading in your classroom? Have you done it yourself to learn a language? Leave a comment below and share your thoughts with us.
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Last update on 2020-04-16 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API