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Re: Getting students to want to read.

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  • Glenski
    Hi again, Jeremy, Thanks for answering my questions. I m surprised you don t know about eikaiwa, but then again, maybe you re not in Japan. Eikaiwa means
    Message 1 of 33 , Oct 31, 2010
      Hi again, Jeremy,
      Thanks for answering my questions. I'm surprised you don't know about eikaiwa, but then again, maybe you're not in Japan. Eikaiwa means English conversation school. Sorry if I assumed too much there.

      Your answer to #1 seems reasonable, but I would have to say that even my first-year college kids would have problems with some of the language and listening in your examples. Solution, of course, is to simplify it even more, but then again that makes the intermediate and (few) high levels students feel like idiots.

      Your answer to #2 (I hope that doing the activities
      > before will pique their curiosity. I would love to visit some of these
      > 'unmotivatable' classes and see them for myself. ") has 2 parts.

      Knowing my students (and those in high school here, too), I'll be up front and state that giving kids grammar points will not pique their curiosity to read anything. Maybe others here will disagree, and I wish I had a solution to the motivation issue, but I don't.

      Just visiting any of my reading classes will not tell you much. I give 30 minutes of reading time, and they do it. But only a handful will check things in a dictionary because they don't want to waste time. I have no idea if they check dictionaries at home, though, when they __have__ time. I suspect not. You could see my kids reading in class, but you (and I) wouldn't know if they chose appropriate level books. Maybe I should have a key or icon on their name plates, and when I walk around the room I could check, but that's a bit unfeasible for 160 students (40 per section). And, what would I do if I found a kid reading too high or too low a level anyway? He can't run off to the library to change it.

      After the reading, we do some sort of skills exercise, so that is out of bounds of ER motivation. What you would have to see is the end results:

      1) Only about 1% of my students continue doing reading after the course is finished. (THIS is the key point I want to work on!)
      2) Many kids still read zero books in a semester, despite knowing it is 25% of their grade.
      3) Few, if any, take vocabulary notes while reading. None do reading speed training at home.

      Regarding your answer to Q3 ( I would hope that once students are
      > hooked on readers then all the preamble won't be necessary), the main problem is __getting__ them hooked. Hard as heck to do in only 14 lessons per semester. This is another key point, especially since most of my students see English courses as credits to fulfill in their science major, not at a long-term language learning experience that they will need in their careers.

      so hopefully as
      > long as you have good support material for a few titles, that will be
      > enough.

      Well, I just have not been able to make or find any of this sort of support material. I would really like to see from the experienced, successful veterans just what __does__ work, especially in Japan.

      As a final note here, my own English library now has almost 2000 books. I know other unis have far more, but I think 2000 is a sufficient number for now. My school has only about 1200 students total (from first to fourth year), and we have only one designated reading course. A couple of us teachers (there are only 3 non-natives) are trying to put a required reading element into 2 other courses (communication II for first-year students, and a quasi-content course for third-year students), but we are finding that even with required reading, they still don't always read.

      About 1500 of those books are fiction. I have 100 non-fiction on order with pretty low level English (American K-3 grades). However, even though I constantly try to determine what they will find interesting and at their level, the key is to get them motivated to start __and__ continue reading. I am at a loss as to how to manage that, so having 10,000 books will not help.

      This is a major problem that I think small unis like mine have to face. Little manpower, few courses, and specialized students who think they don't even need the language skills until it's too late.

    • Mark Brierley
      On the subject of computers and how much people read, and something statistical rather than anecdotal, this was posted to the ER Facebook page almost a year
      Message 33 of 33 , Nov 8, 2010
        On the subject of computers and how much people read, and something statistical rather than anecdotal, this was posted to the ER Facebook page almost a year ago.

        Apparently the average American consumes 100,000 words per day, much through computers.

        Something else numerical. I recently helped with the (Japanese to English) translation of a computer game of over 5 million characters. Much of this was repeated (different characters in the game saying the same thing) although repetition is something we agree with as ER proponents. The game was based on historical events and characters. Are games literature? Certainly games are motivating!


        On 8 November 2010 09:56, Glen Hill <glenahill@...> wrote:

        I have been considering adding English manga to my own English library.  However, I can't seem to find anything that I feel is suitable for 2 reasons.

        1) Things like One Piece have some pretty horrible language in it. There is one character, for example, who speaks with an accent (French?), and I wouldn't want my students mixing that sort of jumbled English with what they should learn.
        2) Many of the others have the Japanese on the same page, so I don't think the students would necessarily even read the English, and therefore all I would be doing is providing them with free J comics.

        Have you found any that have suitable English and English-only pages?  If you have comics that are bilingual, how do you get the students to read only the English (or at least read the English at all)?


        On Mon, Nov 8, 2010 at 9:27 AM, Marc Helgesen <march@...> wrote:

        Rob wrote:
        I get a lot of pleasure from reading emails, blogs, comics, news
        reports, Time magazine, in flight magazine etc. I guess kids read
        much more than they used to - they spend half the time looking at the

        Along the same line of thinking, I added a shelf of manga (in
        English) to our ER section of the school library. Very popular,
        especially with kids who aren't excited about the other books. (I
        don't want to make that sound too narrow. A lot of students who do
        read lots of different types of books also like manga. I'm just
        saying that manga often reaches the group of students that more
        traditional "literature" doesn't.

        Some manga is available online at http://shonenjump.viz.com/ and

        Also, following a suggestion from Eleanor Kane at last summer's ER
        SIG conference in Hokkaido, we've added a 12-15 minute SSR time to
        the beginning of each reading class. So far the feedback from the
        students is very positive.


        Marc Helgesen
        Dept. of Intercultural Studies
        Miyagi Gakuin Women's University
        9-1-1 Sakuragaoka, Aoba-ku, Sendai 981-8557 Japan
        Tel: +81 (0)22 277-6204
        Fax: +81 (0)22 277-6208

        Mark Brierley
        School of General Education
        Shinshu University
        Matsumoto, Nagano, Japan
        +81 263 37-2923
        mobile 090 4464 6391
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