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Extensive Reading and Listening

Extensive Reading is not just one thing. Extensive Reading is about building reading speed and fluency so the students can build a sense of how the language works while enjoying their reading (or listening). In order for this fast fluent reading to happen, there are some minimum conditions that need to be met. The students have to READ:

Read quickly and …
Enjoyably knowing …
Almost all the language so they …
Don’t need a dictionary.

If one of these is missing, then the students might be reading slowly because the text is too hard which means they stop reading for communication (i.e. understanding the message), but read to understand the language itself – the words the grammar and so forth. In other words they are ‘study reading’ not READing.

The following four versions all require the students to READ the material for them to be labeled types of ER. All of which are legitimate forms of ER.
‘Purist ER’
This version of ER involves the students only in READing massive amounts of self-selected comprehensible input at their own pace with no tests, and little if any follow-up work.
‘Integrated ER’
This flavor of ER exists as part of an existing class or curriculum whereby students would probably READ their self-selected materials but may follow this up with discussions, reports or do other follow up class work all with the aim of building the four skills.
“Class reader ER’
In this mode, all the students READ the same book and work though it slowly, often over a period of weeks stopping to predict, check comprehension and discuss the story. Often there is some language work developing vocabulary, reading skills and grammar.
‘ER as literature’
Here, students READ the same book usually slowly and treat it as a work of literature examining the plot, character and various literary aspects of the book.

Thus we can see there is no one type of ER provided that the 4 READ conditions are met when they actually are reading. If we wish to see ER grow, then it’s important to understand that not all curriculums have the same focus, the same amount of time, or the same commitment to ER. And that’s fine. There may be curricula, resource, staffing, or budgetary constraints which only allow for a limited ER program.

Moreover, not all programs wish to adopt ER across all their classes but prefer to provide different types of ER to meet various student needs. Therefore, it behooves us to be aware of these types so we can select the most appropriate flavor of ER which would best suit our program’s needs, or those of others.

I’ve seen many times practitioners suggest ER to others only within their own view of ER and incorrectly assuming that type is the one or only type of ER. However, if this type doesn’t match the needs of the program where it might be adopted, then it is doomed to low use, or even failure. Therefore, when helping others develop an ER program, we have to be aware of the program’s needs, their budget, their long term aims, the amount of time available, the program size, their library facilities and so on. Knowing these things can help people select the right flavor of Extensive Reading that suits their program.

adopted from a posting that's written by Rob Waring

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