It’s my honor this week to have written a guest post commissioned by Jason Slanga, an expert language learner and teacher and one of the most thoughtful people I know when it comes to personal habits and disciplines. Jason recently organized the Latin Reading Challenge (#LatinReadingChallenge) to support people trying to boost their Latin reading ability.
My post explains in simple terms the research behind Extensive Reading (reading large volumes of low-difficulty text), offers practical tips, and includes several easy-to-access resources that either go deeper into the effectiveness of Extensive Reading or help learners and teachers present Extensive Reading to others. Specifically, the post explains why context matters, volume matters, speed matters, easiness matters, and interest matters.
Check out the post here and spend some time on Jason’s site!
the last four points can be used as important tips, while the first point is mainly showing how extensive reading helps.
however, i initially thought the first point was a tip as well. why? because i often use what i call “context”, or rather familiarity/knowledge of the story/subject, as a strategy to promote comprehension. The most extreme version of this is where you recount a personal story of a student for him to read and listen to (Language Experience approach).
one caveat here, is that where this “context” is generated from one’s own culture and the content is thus set in one’s own culture, I have read of research that shows that this does not provide as much aquisition as content that is based in the culture of the target language. although I am not sure of the mechanism of this. and having a mix of both is probably not a problem!
Thanks for reading and commenting, Charles. You’re right that “context clues” often feature among tips for reading comprehension. As you’ve seen, in this article, “context matters” refers to the value of meeting words in their natural contexts in texts, as opposed to isolated in lists.
If you find the research about the cultural setting of a text affecting its efficacy for acquisition, do share the sources with us, please!
By the way, if I were going to split the five point into (a) ones that explain why Extensive Reading works and (b) tips, I would include the second point, “volume matters,” in category (a). One can encounter words in their natural contexts in Intensive Reading, too, but to get the benefits of Extensive Reading one must consume a high volume of text. The other three factors, as you rightly note, simply make it more likely/possible for one to read the necessary volume.