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Extensive Reading Explained In 10 Aspects

Some claimed that teaching students to read intensively did not necessarily make them good readers. They added, “Most students who learn to read in English reading lessons do not like reading and rarely read outside the classroom”.

This is due to the way reading is approached in the language class. The reading skill is most often taught by intensive study of short passages followed by an analysis of lexical items.

It is widely believed that students can’t become good readers unless they learn to read by focusing on meaning rather than the language of the text.

Here, another model for teaching reading exists, which is “Extensive Reading” in which students are involved in reading long texts or large quantities for general understanding, with the intention of enjoying the texts, which is the main difference between extensive reading and intensive reading.

In fact, extensive reading is different from intensive reading in many aspects.

Below are the main 10 aspects that explain extensively what extensive reading is and differentiate it from intensive reading.

1. Aims

Extensive reading mainly aims at:

  • Getting students to read because they like reading and they have a strong desire to read.
  • Increasing fluency in reading, which is reading long texts in a short time focusing on understanding the whole meaning rather than the language.
  • Making reading a pleasurable activity for the students.

2. Reading Materials

Extensive reading requires a large section of books to be available for students to choose from at their level.

Here, teachers can make good use of graded readers (books which have been written specifically for ESOL students or which have been adapted from authentic texts)

Setting us a class library is a good way to provide these reading materials for students. They can borrow the books they want and the teachers can also refer some to them.

3. Students’ Choice

In extensive reading, students choose what they want to read based on their interests. If a student finds a book too difficult or they don’t enjoy it, they can replace it with another one.

4. Place Where Students Read

Teachers do a lot to help students pursue extensive reading outside of the classroom. Teachers refer some books to students to borrow and take home to read.

But if there are some books shelved in the classroom, students can be given some time to select and browse the books that interest them.

5. Language Level

The vocabulary and grammar of the books that students selected to read should not pose difficulty.

As one of the aims of extensive reading is to encourage reading fluency, students should not stop frequently because they do not understand the passage. However, the books should not be too easy as this may demotivate students and make them feel they are getting nothing out of the books.

6. Motivation

Capturing students’ interest is the key to extensive reading. If the books available are interesting to the students, then they will be far more likely to want to read them.

These books should also be at a level appropriate to their reading ability.

As mentioned above, the texts should not be too difficult for students so that they do not experience frustration out of not being able to understand them, nor too easy so that they do not feel demotivated out of getting anything from the books.

7. Use of Dictionaries

Reading becomes a chore if students think they have stopped and looked up every word they do not understand in a dictionary. For this reason, dictionaries should be avoided in extensive reading.

Instead of interrupting their flow, students should be encouraged to jot down the words they come across in a vocabulary notebook, and they can look them up after they have finished reading.

8. After-Reading Assignments

Often students are put off reading when it is tied to class assignments.

Unlike in intensive reading, in extensive reading, there is not always a follow-up discussion or work in class.

Teachers can ask students about the books they read informally and encourage occasional mini-presentations of the books they read or book reviews, but these should not seem like obligations to the students.

9. The Teacher’s Role

If the teacher is seen as a reader by the students, they will be encouraged to read.

  • The teachers can talk in class about the books that they have been reading, and then they can make some recommendations to students about what to read.
  • The teacher can also read aloud to students to introduce them to different genres or specific books.
  • The teacher can occasionally give summaries (oral or written) of some books to help students understand what their books are about.

Teacher designing of some assignments and activities can also help students improve their writing or speaking skills.

Counselling is another important role of the teacher. This gives the teacher the opportunity to ask the students about their reading experiences and this can be done also by the teacher in class while the whole class is involved in silent extensive reading.

The teacher’s primary role is to encourage and assist the students with their reading, which students do during or after class.

10. Benefits

Extensive reading not only leads students to improve their reading proficiency and other language skills but also increases their motivation and positive attitude towards learning for its own sake. 


Getting students to start off their extensive reading is very vital for them to discover that they can read in English and that they can enjoy it. This experience would stimulate them to read more with motivation and enjoyment.

Above all, extensive reading should be a student-centred and student-managed activity.

Thanks For Reading

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