Saturday, May 25, 2024
HomeGetting the most from graded readers

Getting the most from graded readers

Sue Leather explains the four essentials needed to set up your extensive reading programme

No one disputes the benefits of extensive reading (ER) for English students. There is a substantial body of evidence supporting using graded readers as an effective way for students to be exposed to comprehensible input, through which they can acquire vocabulary and fluent reading skills, as well as grammar and oral fluency.

We know from the research that ER at the student’s language level is not a replacement for narrow reading of authentic material, but an addition to it: one teaches top-down reading strategies, the other adds in bottom- up decoding and you need both to read in L2. The accumulation of evidence amounts to what Waring has called ‘the inescapable case for extensive reading ́ (2009:93). The fact is, though, that ER is still noticeably missing from many English language classrooms.

So, what can teachers do to incorporate ER into teaching programmes? In our book, Extensive Reading: The Role of Motivation, Jez Uden and I propose that motivation is the missing link between the research and teachers. We suggest a motivational reading cycle based on beliefs, values and goals, and consisting of four phases, necessary to make ER successful in your classroom:

  1. Create the right reading environment.
  2. Generate initial reading motivation.
  3. Maintain and protect reading motivation.
  4. Encourage positive retrospective evaluation.

There are almost 60 activities in our book, but here are four, one from each of these categories, that you might try out.

A. Create the right reading environment: What do I think I’ll learn?

Key idea: Get students interested in what they’re going to read.

  1. Review types of reading goals, eg, being able to read quickly, understand well, enjoyment, etc.
  2. Ask students to look at the front cover, title and blurb of their new graded reader. Individually, they complete the handout below. Elicit examples first. Monitor and assist as necessary.
  3. Put students into groups of three to share what they’ve written.
  4. Take feedback from the groups and discuss.
  5. Finish by telling students to keep their worksheet and their goals safe. When they’ve finished their book, they will review it and check how they did compared to their predictions and their goals.

Handout:

Look at your new graded reader and complete this handout.

  1. How much do you expect to enjoy this reader?
  2. How much new vocabulary would you like to learn?
  3. What do you expect to learn about the world, or about a specific place or person?
  4. Are you expecting any difficulties in reading it?
  5. How do you expect to feel about your English when you’ve finished it?
  6. Write down your three reading goals.

(See section D for a follow-up to this activity.)

B. Generate initial reading motivation; Don’t give too much away!

Key idea: Students motivate other students to read. (Each student has read a different book.)

  1. Before students discuss the books they’ve just read, ask them to write some notes about the following:
  • Genre.
  • Brief description of the main characters.
  • Where the story is set.
  • How the story begins.
  • An interesting/exciting scene in the book (not the final scene!).
  • A personal connection you had with the story.
  • Any deeper meaningful issues that the book deals with.
  1. Put the students into pairs or small groups and ask them to discuss their books with each other.
  2. Take feedback on which books students would like to read next.

C. Maintain and protect reading motivation: The six-book challenge.

Key idea: Challenge students to read. Include competition.

  1. Present the class with a selection of books, ensuring they are easy enough for all students to read.
  2. Ask the class to look through the selection and decide on six books they want to include in the reading challenge.
  3. Put the students into small teams.
    Once the students have begun reading their individual books, they should discuss what they have read within their teams each week in class. Teachers should monitor the discussions to ensure the students are actually reading the books.
  4. The winning team is the first group whose members have all read each of the six books.

D. Encourage positive retrospective evaluation: What I learned.

Key idea: Students reflect on what they’ve learned by reading.

  1. Ask students to take out the handout they filled in before: What do I think I’ll learn? (see section A).
  2. Individually, students check their notes and write about what they learned in the handout below. Encourage them to compare their before and after ideas.
  3. Put students into groups of three to share their findings.
  4. Take selective feedback and discuss. Did they achieve their goals?

Handout:

  1. How much did you enjoy this reader?
  2. How much new vocabulary did you learn?
  3. What did you learn about the world, or about a specific place or person?
  4. Did you experience any difficulties in reading it?
  5. How do you feel about your English now you’ve finished it?

The case for ER really is inescapable. Let’s really make full use of its power in our classrooms!

REFERENCES

  • Leather, S, Uden, J (2021), Extensive Reading: The role of motivation. Routledge
  • Waring, R (2009) in A Cirocki (Ed.), Extensive Reading in English Language Teaching, .93.

Sue Leather is a writer and educator based in Vancouver. She is an expert on extensive reading, having written over 30 original graded readers for a number of publishers.

She won the Learner Literature Award twice, for Dead Cold (Cambridge University Press) and Ask a Friend (StandFor Readers) and was nominated a further two times, for The Big Picture (Cambridge University Press) and The Way Home (Cambridge University Press). Extensive Reading: The Role of Motivation came out in 2021. You can find all her books on her Amazon Author Page. Contact her at sue@sueleatherassociates.com

Images courtesy of PHOTO BY PIXABAY and Library
Sue Leather
Sue Leather
Sue Leather is a writer and educator based in Vancouver. She is an expert on extensive reading, having written over 30 original graded readers for a number of publishers. She won the Learner Literature Award twice, for Dead Cold (Cambridge University Press) and Ask a Friend (StandFor Readers) and was nominated a further two times, for The Big Picture (Cambridge University Press) and The Way Home (Cambridge University Press). Extensive Reading: The Role of Motivation came out in 2021. You can find all her books on her Amazon Author Page. Contact her at sue@sueleatherassociates.com
OTHER POSTS
- Advertisment -

Latest Posts