Monday, October 02, 2006

Extensive Reading for the budget conscious country

On the Extensive Reading mailing list, Dave Kees floated the idea today that China (or likely any developing country) could use extensive reading exclusively. (Extensive reading (ER) involves reading tens of thousands of words per week in the target language. This is made possible by keeping the difficulty of the material largely within the comprehension level of the reader, usually by controlling the vocabulary of the text.)

Dave suggests that, even if ER weren't quite as effective as using a variety of teaching methods,
"China should think about what the impact would be and the cost savings be (sic) if they gave Comprehensible Input a wholehearted tryout, especially considering the difficulty of many high-maintenance foreign teachers and the trouble, heat and friction of the age-old academic battles between grammar-translationalists and communicative approachers."
If I had all the freedom in the world to set up my ideal program, I don't think I'd go for 100% ER, or even 100% ER with accompanying audio, as Dave is suggesting. Still, if you look at the cost/benefit ratio of French classes in English-speaking Canada or of English classes in Japan, it would be hard to do worse.

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