Extensive Reading (ER) is regarded by many as an effective way to help language learners improve their language skills, with a general acknowledgement that "a wide range of learning benefits accrue [from ER but] the benefits do not come in the short term. Nevertheless, the substantial long-term benefits justify the high degree of commitment needed” (Nation, 2001, p. 156). To be effective, an ER course must be sustainable, and implementing such a programme involves a number of challenges. Instructors and administrators need to ensure a range of suitable reading material is available and easily accessible, either in the learning space or the institution’s library. Students should be able to access books often and easily if they are to read at the levels required for successful extensive reading. Then some system to check if reading is actually being done may be required, especially if it is part of a required or for-credit course. All this needs to be manageable for administrators and teachers who are often hard-pressed for time, and in a way that won’t be overwhelming for students.
In this presentation, we will draw on our experiences of coordinating, managing, and teaching a university-level extensive reading course to illustrate how such a programme can be set up. We will consider the challenges involved, and how these can be overcome to keep the programme running smoothly. We will also report on student reactions to, and outcomes of, the ER course with particular focus on our use of Moodle Reader and the online xReading system as the backbone of our ER courses.
Paul Collett currently teaches at Shimonoseki City University, and helps run the ER programme at Seinan Jo Gakuin University. His interests are in teacher and learner psychology, and research methodology.
Malcolm Swanson teaches English and media studies at Seinan Jo Gakuin University. His interests revolve around the implementation of technology in active learning programs.