About 17 years ago, I attended an ETJ certificate workshop by Rob Waring on something I had never heard about before: extensive reading (ER). As a lifelong avid reader, I was very interested in hearing that learners of English could make a lot of progress simply by reading books right at their level; books that were on topics that interested them and that they chose for themselves. To me, this sounded like a more enjoyable way to study than doing grammar exercises out of a textbook and so I set about creating an ER library for my adult students in my eikaiwa school. At the beginning, my library only had fourteen graded readers!
It sounded so easy! All I had to do was set some books on a shelf and let the students choose! The reality was somewhat different and I discovered by trial and error how to choose appropriate books and the best way motivate my students to read them. I wrote about my experience in an ETJ Journal article entitled, The Little Library that Could.
At that time my school had been teaching children to read using phonics, but the students never had any opportunity to practice their skills outside of the classroom. I shifted my energies toward creating an ER library for children, which was a bit trickier because not only did I have to provide audio support for students still learning to read, I also had to convince their parents of the value of reading books at home.
The library at BIG BOW English Lab has come a long way, with over a thousand books available for students. I’ve learned to become a better “book whisperer” and help students choose books that suit their interests and reading level. In the spring, we created a library management system where students could easily check out many books using a bar code scanner. This system is so easy to use and has breathed new life into our library program. It was so successful that we’ve decided to make it available to other schools and teachers through a subscription service.
Come hear how to set up a successful ER library at your school at the Chubu ETJ EXPO this Sunday, January 29th in Room 511 at 11:15, Creating a Successful Extensive Reading Library.