Extensive reading in English language teaching

Extensive reading in English language teaching. Ed. by Andrzej Cirocki. (LINCOM studies in second language teaching 8.) Munich: LINCOM Europa, 2009. Pp, 635. ISBN 9783929075663. $124.88 (Hb).

Reviewed by Dennis Ryan, Raleigh, NC

Education researchers, constantly scrutinizing teaching methodology to enhance the efficacy of student learning, have rejected ineffective, traditional teaching methods in favor of newer ones that focus on cognition, affective response, and motivation. Editor Andrzej Cirocki and the contributing scholars offer an alternative approach to foreign-language and second-language learning that emphasizes ‘reading in quantity’ (19) to promote reading comprehension, the learning of new vocabulary, grammar rules, and real-world writing and speaking skills. Extensive reading (ER) of texts in a variety of subject areas offers students ‘meaningful and memorable contexts for processing and interpreting new language’ (19), thus stimulating language learning. This book is organized effectively to present a coherent argument in favor of ER education and offers an abundance of empirical data to support this claim.

Section 1, ‘Developing reading skills in a foreign/second language’, discusses theoretical aspects of reading, and the importance of interactive reading models, automatic student response, vocabulary recognition, motivation, and student self-monitoring during the reading process to maximize correct comprehension.

Section 2, ‘Promoting literacy through extensive reading’, examines the role of texts (i.e. reading material in various genres) to the success of language instruction from primary school through the university level. The authors in this section discuss the importance of graded readers, literary texts, repeated reading, and the use of authentic materials in the EFL and ESL classroom to facilitate student understanding of written language in cultural, social, and personal contexts that promote literacy/fluency and personal and social growth.

Section 3, ‘The efficacy of extensive reading: Insights from the research’, discusses how students benefit from ER using qualitative (e.g. book reports, diaries) and quantitative (e.g. speed reading tests, vocabulary tests) research methods.

The final section, Section 4, ‘Extensive reading in the EFL/ESL classroom: Teaching tips’, is comprised of teacher lesson plans and language-learning activities. The articles in this section demonstrate how teaching according to the ER lesson plan facilitates student learning of content information and specific content terminology in EFL/ESL classrooms.

The book’s contributors make fundamentally important insights regarding ER and the incorporation of ER texts and methods in classrooms across the globe. The book’s purpose is to discover ‘if extensive reading programmes promote effective learning in all language skills…’ (20). The articles seem to point affirmatively to that goal on a world-wide basis.