Extensive Reading…

bookwormThere is a lot of research material starting to be published about the benefits of Extensive Reading as a way to improve and . So, the first questions we should answer are:

What is extensive reading, and how is it different from the “normal” kind of reading usually done in English classes?

To put it simply, extensive reading is exactly the same kind of reading that the learner would normally do for enjoyment in their own language – but in English and at a level where he/she can easily understand what they read. This means that any stories that you read should be both interesting and at the right level of English. In extensive reading, you don’t force yourself to continue if you find that a story is boring or too difficult. You simply stop and look for something more interesting or easier to read.

One way of knowing that a story is too difficult is if there are so many words you don’t know that you can’t understand its overall meaning. But this is not to say that you need to know all the words in a story for it to be at the right level. In fact, there should be some words that you don’t know so that you can develop your vocabulary.

How many words is it OK not to know? Other than the “can’t understand” test mentioned above, a good way to find out if a story may be too hard is to take a of around 200 words and then count how many words you do not know. You don’t need to be highly scientific here. Take an average looking line and count the number of words. If there are around 10 words per line then 200 words will be around 20 lines. You will see that in our stories and s there are around 20 words per line, so 200 words will be 10 lines. As a general rule, if the number of unknown words is less than 5 in 200 then the story should be fine for you. If more than this but you think the story might be interesting, try reading it anyway because often interest can make up for some extra difficulty. If not, try a lower level story.

When you are reading to improve fluency, it is important that as you come across unknown words you DO NOT stop to look them up in a dictionary. You should continue reading and try to understand the overall meaning of the story without worrying about any words you don’t know. This might seem strange at first because it is the opposite of what many learners are taught at school, but it is a very important skill. After all, in real life you will not be able to check the meaning of words that you aren’t sure about every time you are reading or talking with someone.

The best way to develop your fluency is to go right to the end of a story (or chapter if it is a long story) and ask yourself if you think you have a good understanding its general meaning. If the answer is “No”, the level was probably too difficult and you should try an easier story next time. If the answer is “Yes”, then well done! You are ready to move on to the next story.

If you want to speed up your vocabulary learning, you could go back to look up the meaning of any words that you did not know after you finish each story. But before you look in the dictionary, have a look at the sentence the word is in and try to guess its meaning. This is another important skill as you progress to higher levels of English.

Website Tools

We have a number of tools to help learners understand some of the more difficult vocabulary on our pages.As well as helping you understand words that aren’t in our Simplified English word lists, the “hover” tool described in the right-hand side-bar can help you when it comes to learning vocabulary. With it, you can quickly identify the most important words to learn among those you don’t know.

First, it is important to understand that you should try to learn the words you don’t know in our stories that are not specially marked first. Our word lists contain the most important words for you to know at each level.

Once you have looked at these, our “hover” tool can help you decide the next most important words to learn. Let’s look at the explanation you will see if you place your over the marked word “hover”:

(v) The normal meaning of the word “hover” is to stay in the air or sky in one place, like a helicopter or hummingbird when it is feeding. (โผบิน) In computing, the term means to use the mouse to place the cursor over a particular word or area of the screen such as this without clicking. 4000

For most entries, there will be a number at the end such as the “4000” you see here. This represents the frequency with which the word is used in British English. This will help you know how important it is to know the word. 1000 means the word is among the 1,000 most commonly used words in English and is therefore very important to know. 2000 means between 1,000 and 2,000; also important for fluency but not as important as the first 1,000. The word “hover” is in the 3,000-4,000 range, and most of the words at this level are not very important for general day to day conversation. The highest number you will find is 14000. Words at this level are used very little in English, so much so that you may never come across them again in your life.

Once you know almost all of the unmarked words at one level, you should go up to the next level and continue as before. Again, don’t worry about trying to learn the marked words; the unmarked words are the most important. By Pre-Intermediate level you should know almost all of the words at the 1000 level. Once you are ready to start learning words, start with those you don’t know at the 2000 level. If you have a good knowledge of the words at these two levels you will be well on your way to achieving fluency.

It is when when you reach Intermediate level (an 1,800 word vocabulary) that you need to start thinking about learning some of the higher level marked words. At this level, you will know most of the frequently used words in English.

(n: vocabulary pl vocabularies) 1. Words in general. (ประมวลศัพท์) 2. The words known and used in something [such as a language, by one person, within a particular group or profession, in a story or article, etc.]. (กลุ่มคำศัพท์) 4000

fluency(n: fluency, noncount) The ability to communicate easily and smoothly in a language. In order to understand easily and speak and write fluently, you need to be able to “think” in the language. 10000

(n: sample pl samples) A small part or amount of something that gives you information about the thing it was taken from. 2000

article(n: article pl articles) A piece of writing about something in a newspaper, magazine, on the Internet, etc. 2000

cursor(n: cursor pl cursors) The thing that moves on the computer screen when you move the mouse. 7000