When I found out I would be teaching ACCESS, a group of high school students receiving scholarships to study English from the U.S. Department of State, I was thrilled. I was also eager to do something I had always wanted to try with my classes: an extensive reading curriculum.
In case you aren’t familiar with the concept, extensive reading involves learners reading texts for enjoyment and to develop general reading skills. This is in contrast to intensive reading, which involves learners reading in detail with specific aims and tasks (SOURCE: The British Council).
When I examined our language center’s collection of graded readers, however, I was disappointed to find that we only had one copy per title. Despite this, I was determined to press on with a reading curriculum.
I did some research, and to my surprise, students reading different books in the same class was actually a thing. According to Dr. Diana Senechal, whose blog I fortunately stumbled upon, a Reading Class could be distinguished from a Literature Class due to its objective: while the former aimed to encourage students to read for pleasure, the latter’s goal was to facilitate student discussion of literary elements.
I was relieved that a Reading Class could be beneficial for students. What I didn’t know was that it would not only lead my students to fall in love with reading but also guide their understanding of basic literary elements – killing two birds with one stone.
Below is an outline of what I did and the results:
LEVEL: Lower Intermediate
AGE: 16 to 17 year olds
DURATION: 30 hours of instruction over a period of 2 weeks* (intensive summer session)
OBJECTIVE: Encourage a love of reading and expose students to some basic literary elements
STUDENT PROFILE: Most students had never read a book in English and had limited access to books in any language. All students went to public high schools, which provided very limited exposure to literary elements or devices within literature classes (in Arabic, French or English).
CULTURAL NOTES: In general, there is not a culture of reading for pleasure in Morocco. Most homes lack a library or bookcase, and the only books likely to be found around the house are religious texts. Books are expensive, and books in English are difficult to find – especially in Oujda, where I teach.