In 2014, I posted on the TESL Ontario blog “Encourage Extensive Reading with MReader.” Since then, I have been integrating extensive reading with language learners in different contexts. I have learned a great deal using extensive reading in face-to-face situations. However, as COVID has forced us all online, the new challenge is facilitating extensive reading in a fully online mode.
In late 2021, Sepideh Alavi, a member of the Extensive Reading Foundation Board of Directors and Avenue mentor, and I started an extensive reading research project on the Avenue system. A critical part of this study is a pilot test of extensive reading with literacy-level classes.
I often hear students say they like any chance to have a casual conversation in English. Literacy learners, however, are much more likely to avoid a conversation because they’re not confident enough to use the language yet. As ESL teachers, we prepare well-thought-out lessons that focus on grammar, composition, pronunciation, and structured activities, but we rarely foster a free flow of dialogue that encourages the students to just “use the language.”
I recently wrapped up an introductory English course with literacy learners and got some valuable feedback from my students. After three months of students learning verbs, adjectives, and nouns, and practicing sentence structure and pronunciation, during our last lesson I decided to take a break from the routine and just engage students in a casual chat.