Extensive Reading for Motivation
Dang Tieu Yen, M.A.
online news, and short stories, based on topics dis-
Goal: Motivate students with a sequence of
cussed in the classroom (see the Recommended
reading, sharing, and reflecting.
Sources of Materials list on p. 50). The selected texts
should be from a wide range of different genres, have
Target audience: Reading class, any level.
a wide range of styles, and be of various lengths and
Special materials needed: Collection of
levels of difficulty. The goal of this collection is to
readings, Meeting Memo form (p. 50), My
introduce students to written forms that they might
Favorite Readings form (p. 51), evaluation
encounter in real life—this will make them more
form (p. 51).
confident in using English in the future.
Sequence of Activities
A common scene from an EFL reading classroom:
Students read a text from the textbook with an intro-
(1) Reading and Reflection
duction of context and vocabulary help from the
teacher. Then they do some exercises to check com-
After finishing a reading unit, the teacher intro-
prehension. Approaching reading this way, too often
duces the extensive reading collection and explains
learners lose intrinsic motivation as they read some-
thing because they have to, not because they want
the task (a handout is recommended the first time
to. Textbook selections are often out of date. The
this is done). There are two main tasks here:
content is foreign to their lived experience. These
• Read at least two texts at home and reflect on what
demotivating factors affect badly the development of
they have read in a learning diary.
students’ reading skills.
• Create a “word bank”which includes a minimum of
For this reason, I have developed and tried a
15 vocabulary items they learn from each article.
model of learning and assessment through extensive
This activity is supposed to be done in one week’s
reading advocated by Day and Bamford. This Lesson
time while the second unit is being introduced in
File is designed for tertiary EFL classrooms in Vietnam
class. It will be monitored and consolidated by a
and is one in which authentic materials are used to
discussion in the following week.
enhance students’ reading skills and fuel their
In the discussion session, students share what
they have read with their peers. They may introduce
By facilitating students’ reading, this approach
and talk about one of their articles or bring before a
helps consolidate reading techniques and micro-skills
group issues or items—anything from grammar to
It also familiarizes students with various
main arguments—that they do not understand. At
genres and styles in English. Most importantly, it
the end of the discussion, students report what they
enables them to read what they really like and what
have done in a Meeting Memo (p. 50). This memo
they really want to read. Therefore, reading becomes
will be returned with the teacher’s feedback in the
more enjoyable, more meaningful, and more fun.
Recommended readings among
peers are also recorded in My Favorite Readings
The teacher selects articles from available
sources in English, such as newspapers, magazines,
— 48 —
reinforce reading skills development and enhance
students’ motivation. The taught topic is the center
A presentation can be done as a follow-up activ-
of the task. Based on the presented topic, every
ity in which each group chooses a topic they are
activity serves a purpose.
interested in and shares it with their classmates. The
It can be argued that time constraints are a prob-
aim of the presentations is to have students under-
lem when implementing such a sequence of activi-
take further investigation into a topic of their choos-
ties. Teachers must do something “extra” besides the
ing. This is also a way to integrate the learning of cul-
formal curriculum, which is usually quite a lot.
ture into the learning of language, as these are insep-
Extensive reading activities do result in more work
arable aspects of second language acquisition
for teachers. However, the average time spent in
(Crystal). Each presentation might last only five min-
class for the whole sequence is only about three
utes, plus five minutes for follow-up discussions.
classroom periods. This is quite manageable in terti-
ary EFL classrooms where teachers have more flexi-
(4) Evaluation and Review
bility in planning and materials selection. For exam-
ple, if the workload is too high, the teacher might
This activity can be conducted shortly after the
delete the presentation and evaluation parts for
presentations or twice per semester. In this session,
some units, instead having a presentation once every
teacher and students work together to reflect on
three units and just two evaluation sessions the
their activities in order to improve them. Students
are allowed ten minutes to self-evaluate their work
based on provided guidelines (p. 51). Then they
form groups of three or four, assessing and providing
The Cambridge Encyclopedia of
feedback on one another’s work and exchanging
Language. Cambridge University Press, 1997.
their opinions about the activities. The teacher col-
lects students’ feedback at the end of the session and
Day, R., and J. Bamford. Extensive Reading in the
gives general comments on their activities and effort
Second Language Classroom.
University Press, 1998.
Dang Tieu Yen (M.A., Educational Studies,
University of Queensland) has been teaching at
In short, the entire procedure is a loop with four
Can Tho University for about six years. Her mas-
steps: (1) Students read materials independently. (2)
ter’s thesis focused on foreign language testing and
They share their experiences with peers. (3) They
assessment, a topic which she continues to
do further investigation into one topic. (4) They crit-
ically review their work. The activities in this task
He that governs well
leads the blind;
OPENS THE DOOR TO
he that teaches well
gives him eyes.
Our Resource Bulletin Board reviews
– quoted by Earl Stevick
books, software, and Websites that
can help you in your teaching.
— 49 —
Recommended Sources of Materials
Journals and Magazines
Saigon Economic Times
Vietnam Cultural Windows
These journals and magazines are available at newsstands everywhere. In addition, there may be foreign magazines and journals
available in some libraries.
These Websites provide up-to-date news about Vietnam and the world. They are useful not only for reading practice but also for
improving students’ general knowledge.
www.english-forum.com There is a special section for students here where they can learn English idioms or famous quotations
every day. There are also exercises and quizzes for language improvement. Additionally, there is a students’ message board
where students can send questions about English or exchange learning experiences.
www.collegestories.com This Website is a forum with stories about student life in the United States. Students can send in their
own stories to share experiences.
www.penguinreaders.com This Website provides plenty of designed reading articles which include exercises and vocabulary
explanations. The readings are categorized according to their level of difficulty. This is a very good resource for self-studying
and practicing reading skills.
www.chickensoup.com Here you can find a collection of heart-touching stories which also provide food for thought. They are
very pleasant to read, an interesting form of entertainment.
www.whitehouse.gov This site offers an overview of life in the White House. The reason why I recommend it here is that there
are large collections of Presidential speeches—good examples of formal writing. Also, some speeches might be interesting due
to their up-to-date contents.
— 50 —
My Favorite Readings
It is time for us to look back on what we have done in order to improve it. First, spend several minutes thinking through these
questions about your own learning. Then join in a group of three or four students and share your ideas and comments with one
another. Do not hesitate to write down your ideas. I really appreciate it!
What have you learned from (1) Reading and Reflection? What are some difficulties in doing this activity?
What have you learned from (2) Discussion? What are some difficulties in doing this activity?
What have you learned from (3) Presentation? What are some difficulties in doing this activity?
What do you think we need to improve in each activity?
Which activity do you prefer? Why?
— 51 —