Extensive reading is based on the well-established premise that we learn to read by reading. This is true for learning to read our first language as well as foreign languages. In teaching foreign language reading, an extensive reading approach allows students to read, read, and read some more.
When EFL students read extensively, they become fluent readers. But there is more. Studies have established that EFL students increase their vocabulary, and become better writers.
We also know that reading extensively helps increase oral fluency—listening and speaking abilities. Finally, students who read a lot develop positive attitudes toward reading and increased motivation to study English. So there are some excellent reasons for having EFL students reading extensively.
Let’s now look at what extensive reading is by looking at four of its key principles*:
1. The reading material is easy.
For extensive reading to be possible and for it to have the desired results, students must read books and other materials that are well within their reading competence—their reading comfort zone.