I teach EFL classes to freshman students in the medical, agriculture, engineering, humanities, and education departments. It’s a lot of fun seeing the different personalities of the students with such a wide range of majors. Our school does not have a standalone extensive reading program but it is something that I incorporate in all of my classes. Extensive Reading has played a big role in my own language learning, and I try to share that experience with my students so they can realize the pleasure and effectivenesss of reading regularly in their L2.
The benefits of extensive reading are widely recognized in research (Day, 2010), but it can be challenging to get students to read enough to reap such benefits. While some students read much more than required by their assignments, others read the minimum amount or less. Student motivation to read has been investigated quantitatively using questionnaires (Mori, 2002; Takase, 2007), but less research has taken a quantitative approach. Milliner and Cote (2015) used focus group discussions to explore disengaged students’ perceptions of reading done on digital platforms. This study explored factors that influence the amount of reading done as homework by students at a Japanese university using an English virtual library of graded readers. Semi structured interviews were conducted with 14 prolific readers and 16 reluctant readers in Japanese to identify factors that influenced the amounts they read. Students were selected from 352 freshman students across 10 classes varying in faculty and proficiency levels. Students whose reading word counts were within the top or bottom 5% of their respective classes were approached to participate in interviews conducted outside of regular class time. Audio recordings of the interviews were analyzed to identify common themes. Based upon these themes, several recommendations are made to help reduce obstacles for reluctant readers as well as take advantage of the mindsets and strategies of prolific readers.
Conducting classroom-based research on extensive reading allows language teachers to contribute to knowledge about a valuable approach to language learning; however, a strong understanding of research methodology is essential to execute meaningful studies. Greg Sholdt reports on a unique professional development project that helps language teachers gain skills and knowledge related to conducting quantitative research. He provides an overview of the project and explains benefits of this approach to professional development. Following the presentation, Pat Conaway will lead a discussion on how the ER SIG can replicate the project framework to increase the opportunities to conduct research and raise its quality. While results from research can support using ER in the classroom, It is also important for teachers to get their students interested in extensive reading with engaging classroom activities. The final part of the seminar will be a slam session in which teachers will have a maximum of five minutes to explain a successful ER activity they have used: Making picture dictionaries, Reader's theater, Pattern seekers - teaching and testing scanning, the Extensive Reading Foundation placement test, and using the V-Check level test.
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