So You Want to start an Extensive Reading Programme?

So You Want to start an Extensive Reading Programme?

Anita K Hadiyanto & Willy A Renandya

We know that Extensive Reading (ER) can bring numerous language learning benefits for our language learners. For a summary of research on ER, click here. However, setting up an ER programme can pose a challenge for some teachers. We outline below some practical tips that might be useful for those of us who want to implement an ER programme in their school.

First, we need to decide the type of programme we want to have. There are two options: (1) we can organize a separate ER programme or we can integrate it with our existing reading programme. Once we have decided on the option, we then need to consider how many hours we want to allocate for this program.

Anita for example decided to organize a separate ER programme by offering a four-credit hour course for her pre-service student teachers in her university. This means that her students spend four hours per week with her reading books together, talking about books that they have read, acting out exciting scenes from the story book and doing other enjoyable post-reading activities.

Anita’s course syllabus is available here. Do take a look and use it as a model for you to develop your own customized syllabus.

Second, an ER programme needs a lot of reading materials appropriate to the learners’ language ability. If we do not have enough graded reader books in the school library, we can always use online reading sources such as ER-Central ( Students can also explore the Internet for interesting and comprehensible reading or viewing materials. More advanced learners for example can watch TED talks or other similar materials.

If you school/institution is well-resourced, you might consider adopting a graded reader digital library. X-Reading for example is a digital library that contains about 1,000 graded readers. It also has a built-in learning management system which makes it easier for teachers monitor students’ reading and their progress.

Third, extensive reading is different from intensive reading (for a more comprehensive discussion on extensive vs intensive reading click here). Extensive reading aims at developing the joy of reading. To reach this aim, we need to design engaging follow-up reading activities. We can, for example, ask the students to imagine as if they are one of the characters in the story and ask them to retell the story from their point of view. Or we can ask them to create a poster that captures the theme of the story, choose an exciting section from the book and perform a mini drama.

Fourth, assessments are sometimes required to monitor their progress. Nevertheless, the assessments should support rather than undermine students’ motivation to read more. We can, for example, ask the students to put a star on the poster or diorama they like most. This young learner type of activity is still enjoyable even for adult learners. We can ask the students to complete a reading record form to check their own reading progress. This form can later be used as a report to any third parties who need it.

Fifth, we can use the students’ written work from the follow up reading activity as one of the reading sources. For example, we can ask the students to write a letter to one of the characters in the story. Their partners will then receive the letter. They will answer the letter, pretending as if they are the character of the story.

Further Reading

Day, R., & Bamford, J. (1998). Extensive reading in the second language classroom. Cambridge: CUP.

Jacobs, G.M., & Renandya, W.A. (2015). Making extensive reading even more student-centered. Indonesian Journal of Applied Linguistics, 4(2), 102-112. Free download here.

Online resource
ER Foundation Website

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