In EAL at the College, we aim to instill a passion for reading. With 47 EAL pupils enrolled on an online programme called M Reader, pupils have individual reading targets of 30,000-100,000 words per term according to language level. This means by the end of the year, they will have had significant exposure to English through reading.
Numerous research studies show that Extensive Reading (ER) helps learners to become better and more confident readers, to write better, to have improved listening and speaking abilities and to gain richer vocabularies. Not only do learners develop better language skills but they also show more positive attitudes towards reading and increased motivation to study. Extensive reading also broadens cultural and background knowledge.
We have recently added graded readers across all genres to our School Library. These books have been designed specifically for second language learners and are an essential tool. This is because studies estimate that the percentage of vocabulary necessary to understand written texts is between 95% (Laufer,1989) and 98% (Hu & Nation, 2000). Many ungraded books are simply too difficult which results in increasing reading frustration and ultimately learners who give up.
On the other hand, if books are comprehensible, readers can become immersed in a story, and are able to read extensively so that grammatical structures and vocabulary are reinforced through multiple exposures. They also see how vocabulary functions in context, and as they gain an insight into a writer’s craft the reading and writing connection is reinforced so that they are more likely to replicate a writer’s style in their own work.
According to Nuttall (1996): The best way to improve your knowledge of a foreign language is to go and live among its speakers. The next best way is to read extensively in it.
At Mount Kelly we are maximising the language exposure of our international pupils who are not only living and breathing English but reading in it too!
Article by Jane Thomas, EAL Teacher