Reading course: Background
I use extensive reading for
the one reading course that I teach, as well as for some
first-year oral communication classes. The reading class
(first-year medical students) uses extensive reading
exclusively in the ten-week summer term (a 200-title library
of Oxford Bookworms, Stages 3, 4, 5 & 6).
At the start of the course, students take an
extensive reading placement test which I developed, and then
are advised at which stage to start (ranging from Bookworms
Stage 3 through 5) according to their test score.
The main aims with the class are to encourage reading
a large amount of comprehensible text each week, and to
build confidence, enjoyment and reading speed. and then
choose books from the appropriate stage. Different students
read books from different stages. Higher-level students also
start reading Usborne L1-teenager content-based books.
Reading course: Main
(1) Social English phase
(pairs) moving into (2) discussion of how much they have
read outside class; how much time they have spent reading;
whether the story was interesting or not; key points from
story. This is followed by (3) short report-writing and (4)
reading, re-telling or one-page summary + opinion reports,
and (5) using the libraries. During class, reading record
sheets are handed out, and students update these before
handing them back in at the end of class. Students spend
some time in class reading, accordingly.
Key points in success: (1) reading regularly (20+
minutes a day for five days rather than 2 hours in one day);
(2) setting reading goals in terms of number pages and time;
(3) reviewing personal goals; (4) keeping clear and neat
notes; (5) reading for enjoyment and learning to read
relatively fast; (6) returning books if too difficult or
Differences from previous learning
Key differences: (1) choice of content by students;
(2) learning to monitor performance and to set own reading
goals; (3) focus on reading quantity and content rather than
Reading course: Teacher
Main roles: (1) advisor ( I spend a lot of my time
sitting with students one-to-one, seeing how they are doing
and giving advice to help them 'speed up'); (2) encourager
(I constantly encourage students to keep on reading and to
focus on meaning); (3) monitor (I check weekly totals and
running totals). In particular, I make sure I take time for
the slower students.
Routines: I follow a fairly
repetitive routine in class and don't go in for lots of
different activities. I do this because I want to establish
a familiar route for students to success. In-class
activities begin to vary more from the second term on.
Class target: I used to set a term goal for the
students of 500-750 pages, but I have don't this the last
couple of years because I wanted to see if the students
would reach such a goal of their own volition. Some do, but
many don't, so I'm moving back towards setting such a goal
for next year (and indeed I have set one for the second term
for the reading class).
Evaluation: Based on reading totals, notes kept by
students in their notebooks, and self-assessment. Could be
done on the Edinburgh Project in Extensive Reading
proficiency tests and a gain score between start and end of
term, but I see this type of course as highly
individualised, with students starting from different levels
and interests, as well as highly personalised, so I think
the advantage of pinpointing an exact progress over 10 weeks
is better achieved through self-reflection rather than
through an objective test.
The oral communication
classes that are using extensive reading in the autumn term
are reading at about 25-50 pages a week, and keeping notes
for homework on what they read. These notes are used for
re-telling and discussion in class. These pair discussions
happily go along for 20+ minutes.
One class consists of Japanese Language and
Literature majors, who clearly have an affinity for reading
literature in a foreign language. They are using Oxford
Bookworms Stage 4.
Another class consists of Politial Science, Law,
Sociology and Economics majors. They have started off with
Skyjack! and Justice (Stage 3), and again enjoy discussing
the various issues that these stories can raise.
A third class consists of Physical Education majors
who have started with Recycling in the Oxford Factfile
series. Here the students enjoy reading and talking about a
serious social and political problem, at a level at which
they feel comfortable.
I make audio-tapes of certain stories, so that
students can read and listen outside class at the same time.
The point here is that the quality of extensive reading for
making home-grown listening materials; moreover, integrating
skills in a motivating way naturally fits in with such a
Feedback from the
(more detail will be given at
Relaxed and motivating atmosphere
Extending reading fluently in the autumn term with
the Medical students to newspaper texts;
Keeping reading record sheets in an
English-English dictionary-based games that the
students can successfully play to enhance their noticing and
conscious recycling of key words from a reading text;
Apart from this, and the great
range of activities that Ken will present, I'd like to hear
what you do, so that we can try to identify together any
common problems (and solutions!) that can come up in working
with extensive reading in the classroom. Thank you for
coming to the group presentation today.
Foreign Language Center
University of Tsukuba