This is the second-last in a series of posts I’m writing to review and reflect on my learning from this Coursera MOOC . This week’s material was on extensive reading. Extensive reading is …
a supplementary class library scheme attached to an English course. In which pupils are given time, encouragement and materials to read pleasurably at their own level as many books as they can without the pressure of testing or marks. Colin Davis (1995)
The course suggests that the best way to improve reading skills is to read and that extensive reading is the obvious manifestation of this principle, facilitating fluency in readers. Despite this, teachers apparently don’t take advantage of extensive reading as much as they ought to.
Day & Bamford, in this paper, propose 10 principles for extensive reading and the course presenter introduces them by underscoring the importance of the quantity of reading and that the reading is pleasurable.
Principle 1: The reading materials need to be easy. The greatest benefit seems to come from easy texts which have a correlation with reading that we find pleasurable.
Principle 2: Learners should have access to a range of reading materials on a variety of topics. Everyone doesn’t want to read the same thing.
Principle 3: Learners choose what they want to read (the ideal situation is that there’s a big library that learners can choose from). Choosing a book is also a task. It is meaning focused and has an outcome.
Principle 4: Learners read as much as possible. This could mean reading a book a week or 10-15 min a day.
Principle 5: The purpose of reading is usually related to pleasure, information, and general understanding.
Principle 6: Reading is its own reward (not reading for a test or assignment).
Principle 7: Reading speed is faster than other types of reading.
Principle 8: Reading is individual and silent because silent reading is faster.
Principle 9: Teachers need to orient and guide their learners because extensive reading is different than other types of reading.
Principle 10: The teacher is also a role model of a reader. The teacher also sits down to read for pleasure, is seen holding books, and talking about books.
Principle 10 is noteworthy in that it’s instruction by example which is probably very powerful especially for younger learners. Paul Nation suggests that extensive reading should take up at least 20% of total class time and there’s some interesting research around how to to approach this. I have summarized key insights in a presentation which happens to be this week’s rather dull assignment.
The module ended with a discussion about using reading circles in an adult learning context to promote extensive reading. This weeks’s been interesting from the perspective of insights on reading but we’ve really veered off topic from task-based approaches. There was a cursory look at tasks in the penultimate video which I’ve summarized in the presentation. I’m not convinced that designing a book cover amounts to an authentic task that has a real life corollary. They really had to stretch the explanation to make reading circles and groups seem task-like. The only task that they suggest which seems real life in any way is writing a book review for an online portal and the course only hints at this preferring to focus on reviews written for the classroom.
The paper from Belgar and Hunt (2014) titled Pleasure reading and reading rate gains is worth a dekko.
Image attribution: Reading by Paul Bence | Flickr | CC BY-NC 2.0