A pragmatic solution to differentiation in the ELT classroom
using a graded extensive reading scheme

Wendy Arnold, Friday 11.30-12.00

The terms ‘extensive reading’ (ER) and ‘graded readers’ are mentioned widely (Arnold 2008;Day & Bamford 1998;Krashen 2004; Maley 2008), but the concept of an ‘extensive graded reading scheme’ or EGRS) is rarely discussed beyond the realms of discussions groups such as IATEFL YLT SIG (2006, 2007). The term ‘reading’ can also be problematic and will be taken to mean a complex process that includes a) the ability to crack the code/decipher text or decode and b) making sense of text (Arnold 2009; Klippel 2006)
This presentation will illustrate the differences between decoding and making sense of text as well as how ER and graded readers can be successfully integrated.

The importance of ‘high interest’ and ‘low ability’ which is crucial for success for young learners reading in English as a second or additional language will also be discussed. And whilst ER is a laudable concept, unless it is ‘comprehensible input’ (Krashen 2004) it can lead to being ‘low interest’ and ‘high ability’ and failure. Maley describes ER as ‘ ... reading large quantities of text at an appropriate level of difficulty …’ (2008) but little is said about how the ‘appropriate level’ is found. However, ER + graded readers with a ‘reliable’ and ‘valid’ assessment (Brown 1994) appears to be a winning combination, as some quantitative data from a six year study in Hong Kong will illustrate. Qualitative data will also be reviewed, as this has revealed valuable insights into how the various stakeholders in the study reflect about the EGRS.

Wendy Arnold holds an MA in TEYL (York) and a PCED (Hong Kong). She is a teacher and trainer trainer and has worked in Africa, Asia and Europe. She is an ELT consultant with a specialism in early literacy. She is the IATEFL YLT SIG joint co-ordinator.