One of the best ways to improve language proficiency is through extensive reading. The key idea behind extensive reading is actually very simple. When we see the same words, phrases and expressions in meaningful contexts regularly, we will gradually remember them and later use them for speaking or writing.
Learning a language via extensive reading (or extensive listening) is an excellent way of building our implicit knowledge of the language. ELT experts believe that our ability to use language for meaningful communication is largely due to this type of knowledge. When we speak or write, we draw heavily on our implicit knowledge of the language.
Is there sufficient empirical evidence to say that ER facilitates language learning? A short answer to this question is a resounding YES. This however does not mean that we now know everything there is to know about extensive reading. Further research needs to be done so that we are more well informed, in particular, about the types of extensive reading programmes that work/don’t work in a particular contexts, the kinds of training that teachers need to successfully implement an extensive reading programme, etc.
The article entitled Extensive Reading: Theory, Research and Implementation (FREE DOWNLOAD) that I co-authored with my graduate students provides an update of the theory and principles of extensive reading, reviews recent research findings in the past 5 years and suggests productive areas of research.
Day, R., & Bamford, J. (1998). Extensive reading in the second language classroom. Cambridge: CUP
Extensive Reading Central: https://www.er-central.com/ (Lots of free graded readers)
M-Readers: https://mreader.org/mreaderadmin/s/ (hundreds of short and easy quizzes to help you check your students’ reading)
X-Reading: https://xreading.com/ (a digital library of graded readers suitable for students who prefer to read on their mobile gadget).