Most teachers are trying to get their students to read more. The question to ask is what kind of reading are teachers trying to get students to do. In general, there are two common ways in which students read and they are extensive reading and intensive reading.
Extensive reading is having students read broadly for the sake of reading in a pleasurable way. Doing so improves students word recognition and builds overall reading ability. For many students, including adult ESL, you cannot just turn them loose and say read. Rather, it is important to develop some sort of guidelines for extensive reading.
- The books students choose to read extensively should be at their reading level so that comprehension is the primary goal.
- The teacher needs to provide motivation. This can be done through the use of assignments, group work, or other activities related to the books the students are reading.
- There must be some mechanism in which students are required to report their opinion about a book they have read.
Extensive reading is often done outside of class or as a small part of the school day. If it happens outside of class it requires the students to have some discipline to complete an assignment on their own. If it happens in class it is often used as a cool-down after an exciting activity.
Intensive reading is serious focused reading for the purpose of achieving a study goal. A common example is reading a chapter to answer questions. This requires a slightly different scaffolding in order to have success. Below are some principles to keep in mind when having students read intensively.
- Students must know why they are reading and for how long. This helps with goal-setting and self-regulation.
- There must be some sort of way for students to provide feedback about what they learned. It can something as simple as a discussion, or as complex as developing a presentation.
- When a discussion takes place, students must refer to the text while discussing to demonstrate their familiarity with it.
Intensive reading is often done in class. One challenge with intensive reading is vocabulary. Students often see too many words that they do not know the answer too. The constant use of dictionaries uses up all the time set aside for reading. As such, teachers need to monitor dictionary use so that they do not impede the goal of reading the text.
Reading is a skill that most would agree that students need to develop. Extensive and intensive reading provide different ways in which students can develop reading skills. Reading for pleasure or purpose is some of the primary ways in which adults read. As such, extensive and intensive reading are excellent strategies for supporting students in the development of their reading abilities.