The Benefits of Extensive Reading

TheBenefitsOfERWhat is the most important improvement a language teacher can make? According to Paul Nation, it’s “Adding an extensive reading program to a language course.”

But what are the benefits of extensive reading, and why should we practice it? In this workshop at JALT National (11/23/2015), we gave a core definition and summarized 9 benefits of ER.

First, we stated that ER is a reading BEE (a meeting for communal enjoyment). Readers commune with authors, story characters, and other readers. BEE stands for the idea that ER is Big, Easy, and Enjoyable.

Next, we stated the benefits of ER, saying that “ER makes MASTERFUL English.” Each letter in MASTERFUL summarizes one of the 9 benefits of ER.

  • Motivation: ER motivates reading and learning.
  • Attitude: ER improves attitudes.
  • Syntax: ER develops learner syntax and grammar.
  • Thinking: ER improves thinking, that is writing.
  • Ears: ER benefits listening skills.
  • Riches: ER enriches physical, emotional, and intellectual life.
  • Fluency: ER increases reading automaticity and fluency.
  • Uber-text: ER employs the supreme form of content, namely stories.
  • Lexis: ER improves vocabulary and word knowledge.

Click here or on the image for a PDF of the talk.


Promote Big Reading Through the As If Principle

AsIfJALTNational2015By Douglas Forster and Joseph Poulshock

What is the As If Principle? 

“If you want a quality, act as if you already have it.” — William James, 1884

We presented our latest iteration of insights about As If Principle at the JALT National Conference in Shizuoka on November 21, 2015. We summarized and demonstrate five practical case studies and practices that use the “As If Principle” (AIP) to motivate students to do big reading: (1) The Five-Minute Drill, (2) The Reading Poster Project, (3) The Reading Photo Project, (4) The Confidence Trick, and (5) The Power Pose. Besides these activities, we discussed ways to research the efficacy of the As If Principle.

Click here or on the image to download the PDF.


Story Versus Non-Story

5-StoriesPan-SigDo Stories Promote Learning More Than Non-Stories?

This is my talk for the PanSIG 2015 Conference of the Japan Association for Language Teaching (JALT). May 16-17, Kobe City University of Foreign Studies.

Click on the image or here for a PDF of the talk.

Abstract: Two groups of university students read separate variations of one text. The Story Group (SG) read a variation embedded in story grammar, i.e., with a character who faced conflict and tried to resolve it. The Non-Story Group (NSG) read a variation with the same facts, but not embedded in story grammar.

After reading and a delay, SG and NSG Groups took identical quizzes about the text. The SG and NSG groups got statistically similar results on the quiz, but in one subset of the SG Group, learners performed better. The small sample and mixed results indicate a need for more research on this topic.

For some reason, my last name was omitted in the program, so I’m “Joseph Warren” instead of Joseph Warren Poulshock.

Researching the “As If” Principle and ER

AsIfResearch400x300Presentation for the Seventh Annual Extensive Reading Seminar, Sunday September 28, 2014 Keisen University, Tokyo Japan.

Click the image to download the PDF.

“If you want a quality, act as if you already have it” (William James, 1884) This is the As If principle (AIP), and research shows that it applies to many kinds of behaviors.

To apply the AIP in ER, students participated in a photo contest, acting as if they liked reading by taking pictures of themselves enjoying books. They wrote captions on the pictures promoting reading, and they rated the pictures for the contest.

Pre-post questionnaires suggest students might gain reading motivation by doing this activity. Authors will summarize their results and discuss the implications of AIP research in ER.


As If Activities for Extensive Reading


Presentation for the Seventh Annual Extensive Reading Seminar, Sunday September 28, 2014 Keisen University, Tokyo Japan.

Click the image to download the PDF.

The Philosopher William James (1884) argued for what is today called the “As If principle,” (AIP) that if you behave as if you are a certain kind of person, you become that person. Decades of modern research show that the AIP is a dynamic theory of psychology.

In this short paper, the authors demonstrate seven  practical activities that apply the AIP to motivate students to do extensive reading: (1) A Picture of Reading; (2) Colored Wristbands; (3) Happy Mirror Reading; (4) Happy Talk; (5) Three Minute Drill; (6) Reading Posters; (7) The Confidence Trick.

Besides these activities, authors discuss ways to research the efficacy of the AIP (giving details of that research in a separate presentation).