Why teachers don’t use extensive reading in their English classroom

Extensive reading in the English foreign language classroom

This is the last article in a series of three, following “Why should I include extensive reading in my English classroom?” part one and part two. In those two articles, we had a look at the benefits of asking your students to read graded readers or easy English texts to help them learn English. And there are many.

But, the question this raises is: if extensive reading is such a positive method of teaching a language, why don’t more teachers do it?

Why teachers don’t use extensive reading to teach English

It’s a simple question with more than one answer. At the end of the day, every teacher is an individual person with a different set of circumstances and different working conditions.

I live in France, where I run a private language school, but my children are scholarised in the French school system and have English teachers. I also know a lot of other English foreign language teachers who work in language schools nearby or who belong to TESOL France and IATEFL, two organisations I adhere to. I was curious about their use, or non-use, of extensive reading. So, I asked many of these teachers if they promote extensive reading and, if not, why not. Their answers reveal that some teachers:

  • lack the time
  • don’t have the funds
  • lack the materials
  • often have to follow a programme or syllabus that does not include extensive reading
  • don’t always know what extensive reading is or what the benefits are
  • are under a lot of pressure to teach material that wil be in an end-of-year exam
  • genuinely believe that their students can’t work alone

What is the solution?

The solution may be as easy as asking students to read at home or liberating ten minutes at the end of every lesson for reading. They might also be more complex, but still doable, like setting up an extensive reading programme in a school that doesn’t have one by convincing the powers that be of the benefits.

What are your suggestions? Have you been faced with this situation? If so, what did you do?

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