Review written by Thomas Simon
Extensive Reading Activities for Teaching Language is a relatively recent addition to the Cambridge Handbooks for Language Teachers Series, first published in 2004, & fits in well with the overall scheme of the series, being another very well thought out & practical book for teachers.
Extensive reading is incredibly important for the progress of our learners & the authors, in their introduction, cite ten principles of extensive reading:
|1. The reading material is easy.
2. A variety of reading material on a wide range of topics is available.
3. Learners choose what they want to read.
4. Learners read as much as possible.
5. Reading speed is usually faster rather than slower.
6. The purpose of reading is usually related to pleasure, information, & general understanding.
7. Reading is individual & silent.
8. Reading is its own reward.
9. The teacher orients & guides the students.
10. The teacher is a role model of a reader.
They go on to say how the principles are put into action through the activities in the book, with one of the overriding messages being that extensive reading should be an enjoyable experience.
The book is divided into five major sections; Organizing Extensive Reading, Oral fluency, Writing, Reading & Vocabulary. Each then is sub-divided, all sections containing a variety of activities, & each activity is laid out uniformly under the headings; Level, Aim, Preparation, Procedure, Variation & Contributed by. All very easy to follow.
In the Getting Started section, learners are asked to consider their own reading history & attitudes, & then the Introducing Reading Material gives ideas for easing them into different reading materials. Then we move on to Motivating & Supporting Reading through a series of activities that ask for students to respond to the texts they are reading. The Monitoring, Evaluating Reading & Oral Reports sections give ideas for sustaining the experience. The Drama & Roleplay & Having Fun sections lift the material off the page through lots of ideas for active responses to the material being read. Written responses are then dealt with before tackling reading strategies in the Developing Awareness in Reading section. There are a couple of ideas for increasing reading speed before the book ends with looking at using extensive reading to actively develop vocabulary. Within all of the sections are over 100 tried & tested activities.
There is a slight difference between this book & others in the series in that the activities are a collection of tasks from many different sources, all referenced in the 'Contributed by' part of the activity. Sometimes there are comments from the author of the activity.
Extensive Reading Activities for Teaching Language is an excellent book, definitely worth buying & working through with your students. As mentioned above, extensive reading is crucial for effective language development & it is one of our jobs to encourage, support & maintain the skill & activity with our students & this book provides a wide range of tools to help us do just that.