I would like to report the impact of a long-term extensive reading program for reluctant EFL learners in Japanese college of technology. The ER program consists of weekly 45-minute sustained silent reading classes for 120 weeks during four continuous academic years. 40 students started the program as additional lessons at the age of sixteen just after four years of traditional English education in junior and senior high schools. They also continued the traditional English education along with the ER program.
The ER classes are conducted in the college library, which stores plenty of easy-to-read English books including both children’s literature and graded readers. In the ER classes, students select their favorite books by themselves under the guidance of the teacher and are allowed to check out books for their extra reading outside the classes.
After the program, many students developed more positive attitude toward English, increased their reading speed, and made higher TOEIC scores, which was compared to those of the students before this ER program was introduced. Comparison between three groups of the students showed strong correlation between their TOEIC scores and the reading amount.
Critical factors for success of ER program collected from our practice are: regularly secured reading time, cumulated reading amount of at least 300,000 words to measure the effect in TOEIC test, and plenty of easy-to-read books in number and genre. Because the easiness of English texts especially in the first year plays the major role, I would like to stress the importance of picture books for both young and elder Japanese EFL learners. I also propose to modify our consensus on readability scale of English texts at least for Japanese EFL learners, so as to encourage them to start ER with less difficulty.
He has been conducting Extensive Reading Classes since 2003 for engineering students aged from 16 to 22. He has also been the consultant for ER shelves of a local public library since 2005.