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ER: What, Why and How

Mark Brierley Shinshu University 4th February, 2014

What is ER?
Extensive Reading graded reading side reading

What is ER?
reading a lot of easy, enjoyable books
Marc Helgesen

literacy fluency agency

How many books have you read?

being really really good at a language
= ability to use language in real time = quality of vocab quantity of vocab

put students in control of their destiny motivation

English is not boring

it's just the teachers and the tests and the textbooks

What do you need for ER?

Books Time Permission to enjoy reading

What to do
invest time in books and reading

orient and re-orient assess widely

Seven ways to orient for ER

input metalanguage fluency vocabulary and collocation the story brain learner autonomy classroom management

Words and text coverage

100 90 80 70 60 % 50 40 30 20 10 0 0 1000 2000 3000 4000 5000 6000 7000 Vocabulary size

Pedagogical reasons
range of levels appropriate texts

No assessment

What do I do?

Give us their grades

Give me a credit

Must be easy

Our students: 6,000 word vocabulary Wheres the dictionary?

Give me a challenging book

No Activities
Theyre only reading books Did they read it?

Why do I have to write so much?

They need to write more!

ER at Shinshu University
2005: Voluntary
2 teachers 7 teachers

2006: Part of curriculum

20 teachers

2007: First and second year

30 teachers

2010: Optional

Two problems
finding money for books where to put them

How to get books with no money

students buy the books
graded readers cheaper than textbooks

students donate books to class library

can reclaim at end opt-out rather than opt-in

give choice to students stakeholders and stockholders
they literally own the library

learner-centred approach

University Coop Bookshop ()

more of a warehouse than a retailer bulk orders from teachers textbooks of the same title sale or return basis

Choosing levels
students told level 1 or 2 later starter level
E.P.E.R. test results advice from Prof. K. Sakai ()

Socializing reading
choosing books from catalogues

ordering in groups browsing with friends swapping books managing the class libraries
putting the books into genres

Tasks for teachers

managing libraries recording reading providing word counts reading reports

New curriculum
new 5-year curriculum cycle in 2005 strong emphasis on learner-centred teaching ER key component

materials development staff development books booktrucks

Keeping track of books

customized borrowing sheets colour-coded booktrucks colour-coded stickers

teachers like their own systems ERS online system for tracking student reading
virtual solution

books are real objects!

we lost even more

The library
the perfect place to keep books!

Working with the Library

they want to buy books
Not enough recommendations

they want students to visit graded readers ideal solution

Top library lending

3 7 Just like a movie / Sue Leather ; [illustrations by Debbie Hinks] Inspector Logan / Richard MacAndrew Hotel Casanova / Sue Leather ; [illustrations by Hannah Webb]
837.7:C14 837.7:C 14 837.7:C 14


Alaskan ice climbing

Batman begins / screenplay by Christopher Nolan and David S. Goyer, story by David S. Goyer, Batman created by Bob Kane

837.7:F 38
837.7:Sc 6

2 3

John Doe / Antoinette Moses ; [illustrations by Debbie Hinks] Help! / Philip Prowse ; [illustrations by Gary Taylor]
Sherlock Holmes and the Duke's son / Sir Arthur Conan Doyle ; retold by Jennifer Bassett ; illustrated by Ron Tiner L.A. raid / Philip Prowse The long tunnel / John Milne ; [illustrated by David Barnett]

837.7:C 14

837.7:C 14

837.7:O 93

8 9

837.7:Ma 22 837.7:Ma 22

1 2 3 4

Help! / Philip Prowse ; [illustrations by Gary Taylor] Dracula / Bram Stoker ; retold by Diane Mowat The phantom of the opera / Jennifer Bassett The wizard of Oz / L. Frank Baum ; retold by Rosemary Border ; illustrated by Gillian McLean A little princess / Frances Hodgson Burnett ; retold by Jennifer Bassett ; illustrated by Gwen Tourret Love or money? / Rowena Akinyemi The wizard of Oz / L. Frank Baum ; retold by Rosemary Border ; illustrated by Gillian McLean Pele / Rod Smith Newspaper boy / John Escott ; [illustrated by Tony Morris]

837.7:C 14 837.7:O 93 8 837.7:O 93

837.7:O 93

6 7

837.7:O 93 837.7:O 93

8 10

837.7:P 37 837.7:Ma 22

at odds with ER our worst enemy our greatest weapon

I feel that formally evaluating ER runs the very real risk of De-motivating students. It should NOT be just another scholastic hoop to jump through!
ER teacher, 2009

Bonus points seem to motivate my students

How much do we have to read?

How much have you read?

Three books.

Thats not enough!

How much is a lot?

books? pages? words?

Prescribed targets - 2005

Semester I: 10 reports
Extra point if it proves the book was read

Semester II: 14 reports EPER test

pre and post

Semester I
800 700 600 500 400 300 200 100 0
0 5


Pages Read

10 Books Read



Semester II Spike
800 700 Pages Read

600 500
400 300 200 100 0

Residual Spike

Books Read



How much should they read?

one decent-sized book to 20 books 50,000 to 100,000 words
Questionnaire responses from ER Teachers, 2009

The problem with targets

students try to hit them

Some are doing the minimum just to fulfil the requirement


Each person should be encouraged to read a lot, but at their own pace

Words read second semester January 2013

What percentage?

60% 70%
80% 90%

100,000 200,000
300,000 500,000

if we want people to read a lot, we must appear to grade how much they read

How do you know theyve read the book?

you dont!

Reponses to books
Last semester I asked them to write a 1page book report on any book theyd care enough to write about. It was counted as 5% of the grade. It did not seem to affect their ER behaviour in any way.
ER teacher, 2009

Theres a GREAT PLENTY of writing to evaluate already. Neither [the students] nor I need more.

I do not assess, but write down some short comment; I found that stimulate[s] them to read more. ER is not to assess, but let them have fun reading English books

Responses to books
too much work for students not enough information for teachers

Text difficulty
. . . low level grades - not intimidating, confidence building - short texts

. . . books easy to read but meaningful so that they can sustain their interests

Too easy
Some books might be too easy because they say it only takes one hour to finish reading without a dictionary

The students who read upper level books will get more points

As far as the students in my class . . . are concerned, they would like to read more academic and scientific articles than books in the library. . . . (of course, well need to make adjustments, so that students can gain more points for difficult academic articles)

Texts are much too easy

teachers dont understand ER teachers dont know students fluent reading level students choose books above their level

dont understand dont read much cant read quickly

dont enjoy reading

Nuttal, 2005

Assessable and worthwhile

reviews presentations surveys quizzes
for other students emphasise rationale for students who like quizzes
about the story including real questions

Activities I like
measuring reading speed (5 minutes) reading marathon (whole lesson) reading allowed (5 minutes whole lesson) ER activities (whole lesson + homework)

Reading allowed
first time: at end of reading time, all students coninue reading aloud later: students choose a passage from their book to read allowed to partners or groups for exactly one minute

ER activities
picture map self-introduction diary letter news report the prequel students shown five activities and must choose one write in class present to peers upload to a moodle forum for homework

The most practical way [to encourage students to read is] giving some class time to reading

if it's worth doing, it's worth doing in class autonomy
for learners and teachers

many different ways to introduce ER

use many

many different ways to assess ER

use many

Some papers
Brierley, M. (2012). Who killed Extensive Reading? Round up the usual suspects. 6Journal of humanities and social sciences, Shinshu University, 6, 37-49

Brierley, M., Ruzicka, D., Sato, H., & Wakasugi, T. (2010). The measurement problem in Extensive Reading. JALT2009 Conference Proceedings (pp 641-650). Tokyo: JALT.

Brierley, M. (2010). Assessing extensive reading through written responses and comprehension tests. In Eric Skier & Tim Newfields (Eds.) Infinite Possibilities Expanding Limited Opportunities in Language Education: Proceedings of the 8th Annual JALT Pan-SIG Conference 2009 (pp 45 53). Tokyo: JALT.

Brierley, M. (2010). Implementing a university Extensive Reading programme: The need for teacher autonomy. Creativity and diversity in the implementation of a new English paradigm in the EFL context (pp 179-183). Korea: ETAK.

Brierley, M., & Ruzicka, D. (2012). Developing institutional relationships through ER. In K. Bradford-Watts, R. Chartrand, & E. Skier (Eds.), The 2011 Pan-SIG Conference Proceedings (pp. 220234). Matsumoto: JALT.

Brierley, M., Kubota, Y., & Uchikawa, S. (2011). Using online student data to assess graded readers: Preliminary results. In K. Bradford-Watts, E. M. Skier & M. Walsh (Eds), Pan-SIG 2010 Conference Proceedings (pp 12-30). Kyoto: JALT.