Helping Daunted Low Level Adult EFL Learners Get a Fresh Start with a Literature Ladder

| December 28, 2007
Title
Helping Daunted Low Level Adult EFL Learners Get a Fresh Start with a Literature Ladder

Keywords: Low-level, autonomous learning, literature, graded readers, lexical automacity, reading speed

Authors
J. R. Baker, Y W. Luo, & Y.Y. Hung
Tamkang University and Chung Hwa University of Medical Technology

Bio Data
John Baker has a background in TESOL, literature, and composition. He has taught in Korea and Thailand and is currently teaching in Taiwan at Chung Hwa University of Medical Technology and Tamkang University. His professional duties include a range of EFL courses, academic and technical writing instruction, and self-access center design and management.

Yi-Wen holds an MA in computer science and lecturers at Chung Hwa University of Medical Technology where he teaches a range of English as a foreign language courses and provides support for the self-access language learning center.

Yun-Ying Hung, a registered nurse with an MA in public health, lecturers at Chung Hwa University of Medical Technology where she teaches nursing and ESP for nursing and provides support for the self-access language learning center

Abstract
This paper explores the pedagogical changes Taiwanese EFL students have undergone over the last decade and a half, identifies one group (a small portion of college students who have thus far failed to attain the skills needed for basic reading tasks), and offers a goal for the members of this group: to become autonomous learners. The paper then proposes Krashen s (2004) literature based extensive reading model as a tool to help them attain the goal but notes that lower level students will have to overcome two challenges. First, lower level students cannot engage the material at the first rung of Krashen’s model–graded readers–due to lexical difficulties: Because the passages in graded readers are much longer than typical EFL books, students who experience low lexical sight automaticity forget what they are reading by the time they reach the end of the paragraph.

To help them improve their automaticity and thus their reading speed, the paper proposes using Anderson’s (2002) rate build up reading technique, an adaptation of Samuels Repeated Reading (RR) application (1979) and the i minus 1 hypothesis (Day & Bamford, 1998), as a prestage to Krashen’s model to create a combined extensive reading ladder. Secondly, despite the surfeit of research espousing the benefits of extensive reading and the motivational advantages of using literature in the classroom, simply providing literature as reading material does not automatically guarantee low level students’ interest either in the classroom or once they leave. Thus, teaching should be carefully organized both at the course level and in the presentation of the material so that students can enjoy and profit from the work both during the course and once they leave. To illustrate how each area can be addressed simultaneously, the paper outlines Krashen’s contribution and then offers a classroom model that illustrates the use of the RBU procedure and a cyclical application of three skills areas: language based, literature for content, and literature for personal enrichment.

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Category: Quarterly Journal, Volume 9 Issue 4