Easy, enjoyable reading for World Language Classes
Here are a few tips to starting a recreational reading program:
How you display the class library is important. Think of a bookstore; the titles whose covers are facing outward get a lot more attention than the books that are hidden in the shelves. Generating interest by letting students browse the covers is essential. I have designed a cheap, easy to assemble display for our booklets that displays the covers outward.
Suggestions from 81 Generalizations about Free Voluntary Reading
GUIDELINES for SSR:
The following suggestions are based on the generalizations presented above as well as on the suggestions of teachers.
1. Do a little each day, not a lot once a week (distributed, not massed)
2. Less is more; do less than you think they can handle; if you think they can sit and read for 15 minutes, do ten minutes.
3. Make sure plenty of books and other reading material are available.
4. Comic books are ok.
5. Magazines are ok.
6. Graded readers, books written for language students, are ok.
7. Let students select their own reading material (SY Lee 2007)
8. Impose minimum censorship on what is read* (for discussion, see Trelease, 2004)
9. It is ok for readers to read “easy” books (below their “level”) (Krashen, 2005b).
10. It is ok for readers to read “hard” (books above their “level”) (Krashen, 2005b).
11. Students don’t have to finish every book they start to read.*
12. Sustained silent reading is not for beginners. Beginners need other kinds of comprehensible text. It also will not help advanced readers who have already established a reading habit (Krashen, 2001a).
13. Supplement SSR with activities that serve to make reading more comprehensible and interesting (e.g. read alouds, trips to the library, discussion of literature).
14. Don’t use rewards for reading, don’t test students on what is read, do not require book reports. Use zero or minimum accountability. When the conditions are right (compelling reading material available, and enough reading competence) direct encouragement can work.
15. How about some food and drink? Let’s trying eating and reading in the school library.* (Trelease and Krashen, 1996)
Little or no assessment
This is a hard pill for a high school teacher to swallow. I have settled for the option of little to maintain some sort of accountability (for instance, I can track when students flat out lie about their reading). In my experience most students do NOT need accountability, so I do not punish the majority with book report just to make sure that every one reads! Click here to download a link to my reading log. There is a space for every day, although in my intermediate classes we often need two weeks to complete a five day reading log. I pass them out at the end of the reading period, students take just a moment to record a summary and reaction, then I collect the log and apply a unique stamp to indicate that the log has been completed. The stamp is a Peto head stamp, hand-made.
The SSR Handbook, Janice L. Pilgreen (book)
Where to go from here?
Hopefully you will continue to receive booklets from this website!
Beyond that then the next step, I think, is to buy a single copy of every TPRS reader that you can find (most sell for $5 to $6 per copy, so even with a small budget you can grow your classroom library). Interestingly, I have found that even books that I initially dismissed for whatever reason have found some fan base among my students. For that reason I am a huge fan of the professionally prepared TPRS readers offered at TPRS Publishing. The authors are experts at creating highly compelling stories with extremely limited vocabulary, which translates into pleasure reading for our students.
Here is a list of sites where you can purchase TPRS readers:
If you know of another author publishing books with limited vocabularies like the TPRS authors listed above then please leave a comment so that I can add them to my list (and my library).
** Good reading quotes curated by Bryce Hedstrom; click here to see his presentation on light reading.