Yomimono Ippai!  For Readers, Teachers and Writers of Japanese Graded Readers

Use stories for Extensive Reading

Extensive Reading

Learners of any language need to develop the ability to process vocabulary and grammatical structures contained in texts rapidly and automatically (without conscious effort), in order to read and absorb/process information from texts. This is called ‘reading fluency.’ Reading fluency cannot be developed entirely through the traditional Grammar-Translation-oriented method, also called ‘Intensive Reading’ (contrasting to ‘Extensive Reading’).

Because of some inefficient factors of Intensive Reading, ‘Extensive Reading’ has been gaining attention in recent decades. In Extensive Reading, learners read easy and interesting materials for general understanding (gist), without worrying about unknown vocabulary and grammar structures. This allows the learners to read more texts of varying topics and difficulty, which develops their language fluency. Because texts used in Extensive Reading are captivating and fun, learners can enjoy the learning process and remain motivated.

Tips For Extensive Reading

Learners need to know about 97∼98% of running words in texts when they do Extensive Reading. That means the proportion of unknown words should be less than a few words per 100 words. That is because if there are many unknown words and difficult grammatical structures, learners cannot read texts for general meaning in an engaging and speedy manner. When learners are preoccupied with vocabulary, and unfamiliar grammatical structures they cannot increase their fluency, because the focus is on translation not understanding. With little or no enjoyment or curiosity to find out the outcome of the story, learners’ motivation to read in Japanese dwindles.

We recommend that teachers encourage learners to start reading texts from the easiest levels and work their way up, and to persevere in reading about many topics at different difficulty levels.

Please remember the basic rule of Extensive Reading: ‘Have fun reading a lot of easy texts often.’

While some teachers recommend not using dictionaries during ‘Extensive Reading’, it may be best to treat it as a general guidance rather than a fixed rule. If texts are easy and interesting, soon or later learners will naturally stop using dictionaries.

If you have any questions about Extensive Reading, please contact the organizer (Mitsue) of this site.