Updated April 2016
Extensive Reading Requirements
Please use our shared Google Sheet to keep a monthly record of your students’ extensive reading word-counts. This is located at the bottom of our Record Keeping page:
1. What is extensive reading?
Extensive reading, (silent sustained reading, pleasure reading or uninterrupted sustained reading) has various definitions. For the GTI, we define extensive reading as purposely reading a large amount of understandable text in English in order to improve language ability.
“Purposefully” means to do according to a designated plan. “A large amount” is several thousand words and “understandable” means reading texts that are easily understood without much use of a dictionary.
As Day and Bramford (1998), outlined, extensive reading means that students read as much as possible, both in and definitely outside of the classroom, read a variety of materials, and select what they want to read as the purpose of reading is usually for pleasure, information and general understanding.
In the SLC at TIU our goal is to help our students increase their language skills. We believe that reading extensively is one of the most effective methods to acquire English. In mandatory reading courses the focus is on reading in general. These required courses focus primarily on comprehension vocabulary development, finding the main ideas, skimming and scanning.
While teaching specific skills is important for helping our students improve, students require readings that will facilitate fluency and speed.
Extensive reading, within the GTI, has students reading several times a week, both inside and outside of the classroom. What a student reads should be at a level where the student knows almost all of the vocabulary and can understand the meaning of the text with little difficulty.
2. Why include extensive reading in our program?
We believe that high expectations and specific attainable goals can lead to outstanding outcomes. Reading is a crucial factor for language learners and how they develop their language skills. In order to develop the vocabulary necessary to master a language (even L1) it is necessary to be exposed to as much vocabulary as possible. For L1 learners, most of the vocabulary they acquire occurs outside of a formal classroom. Our students have a limited amount of time exposed to English, which means their exposure to English is limited. In order for our students to have more contact with English, situations where they will have more opportunities to interact with English are necessary to improve and speed up language acquisition.
Primary goals of extensive reading are:
- • the student is able to comprehend what is being read
- • the student knows 95-99% of the vocabulary in the book
- • the student enjoys what is being read
Secondary goals of extensive reading are:
- • the student will be exposed to new vocabulary
- • the student will begin to develop decoding skills
- • the student will be exposed to multiple types of book formats and styles of writing
- • the student will be exposed to more content, developing a larger “bank” of prior knowledge to pull from in other situations (TOEIC, conversations etc.)
- • the student develops fluency and speed
L1 learners develop their language ability with the aid of reading. Various studies have shown that students who do not read at all (beyond the day-to-day activities require reading directions, for example) remain at the bottom percentile of students, while those who read even 5 minutes a day jump to the 50th percentile and increases exponentially from there.
A student who reads 15 minutes a day is in the 80th percentile, 20 minutes per day in the 90th and 65 minutes is in the 98th percentile (Anderson, Wilson, Fielding, 1988). While these kinds of numbers do not directly correlate to L2 learners, an argument can be made for implementing the type of reading requirements that would give them the best chance to improve their overall language acquisition.
3. Why read in class if we require students to read at home?
Reading in class is a form of modeling for the student. Having students read in class, while the teacher is reading, is ideal as it provides time and a visible role model and establishes the groundwork and habit-forming structure for reading outside the classroom. For students who do not enjoy reading, who believe that reading is a waste of time or is not doing them any good, reading in class is a way to show them it is important enough that the instructor is willing to use class time to read.
4. How to start?
The first week of classes is the most important time to implement extensive reading.
First, explain the theory and rationale behind the extensive reading program. Students who do not understand the purpose of the program may resist and not fully participate. Thus, the first classes should provide orientation to the objectives. Extensive reading routines should be plainly introduced and implement. The end result of the orientation is for students to understand what they must do, how they must do it and why it is beneficial for them.
In order to reach this end, GTFs should take sufficient time to explain and practice these points:
- i. the goals of extensive reading (see the Freshmen/sophomore compulsory mandatory activities document)
- ii. the theory and rationale for extensive reading is beneficial
- iii. the routines, for example: a) how to choose books, b) silent reading, c) completing reports, d) other exercises and practices (reading in class time, how much time to read outside of class, etc.)
Anderson, R. C., Wilson, P.T., & Fielding, L.G. (1988). Growth in reading and how children spend their time outside of school. Reading Research Quarterly, 23, 285-303.
Day, R. R. and J. Bamford. (1998). Extensive reading in the second language classroom. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press