Jacobs, G. M., & Gallo, P. (2002, February). Reading alone together: Enhancing extensive reading via student-
student cooperation in second-language instruction. Reading Online, 5(6). Available:
Reading Alone Together: Enhancing Extensive Reading via
Student-Student Cooperation in Second Language Instruction
Extensive reading (ER) programs involve students in silently reading large quantities of
materials. These materials are usually at a level that permits students to gain at least a fair
understanding of what they are reading without outside help. ER’s benefits for first and
second language (L2) learners are well-researched and well-known (Coady, 1997; Day &
Bamford, 1997; Elley, 1996; Krashen, 1993; McQuillan, 1994; Nagy, Anderson, & Herman,
1987; Ng, 1988, 1994; Yu, 1993, 1999). For an annotated bibliography of works on ER in L2
contexts, see http://www.kyoto-su.ac.jp/information/er/biblio.html.
Despite this strong, widely disseminated evidence supporting ER, implementation has
often been infrequent and a less than complete success. Many explanations have been offered
to explain this. Greaney (1996) notes that in many lower income countries, ER programs
must grapple with such problems as lack of reading materials, inadequate preparation of
teachers to implement ER, and teacher-centred views of learning. However, these problems
apply worldwide, even in countries which, with the proper priorities, could afford large
quantities of books for ER (Day & Bamford, 1997).
Day and Bamford suggest that the key impediment to successful ER implementation
lies in a teacher-centered view of reading instruction. In this view, teaching means talking,
and if teachers are not talking, teachers are not earning their salaries. ER is seen as something
students should be doing at home, after they have finished their homework. In contrast, Day
and Bamford propose a combination of teacher-led intensive reading and large quantities of
in-school and out-of-school ER.
Other reasons for not using ER are of a more practical nature. Teachers often face a
great deal of pressure from administrators, community members, and others to finish the
syllabus and do every single activity on every single page of the textbook, workbook, etc.
Further, ER is less easy to assess than discrete reading skills. While the research suggests that
ER is precisely the prescription for high scores on reading exams, in an increasing exam
oriented environment, a short-sighted, so-called ‘practical’ view of exam preparation often
prevails. This view leads educators to look for short cuts to exam success by having students
do large quantities of exercises that mirror exam questions.
ER involves students in silently reading alone. Thus, it may seem to be a contradiction
to talk about ER and student-student cooperation, but actually the two can come together
smoothly, as will be described in this article. The article has four main sections. The first
discusses the possible benefits of adding a group element to ER. The second section presents
cooperative learning principles that can help facilitate effective group interaction to
accompany ER. Section three provides examples of group activities when the entire class has
read the same ER book. The fourth section recommends group activities for students who
have each read different ER books or when each group reads a different book.
Rationale for Blending ER and Groups
In a pretest, posttest study with 415 fourth grade students in the US reading in their
native English, Manning and Manning (1984) sought to test the value of combining ER with
peer interaction. Their two dependent variables were attitude toward reading and reading
achievement. Students and teachers were randomly assigned to one of four conditions: (1) no
ER, (2) ER without follow-up activities, (3) ER accompanied by individual teacher-student
conferences about student reading, and (4) ER plus interaction with peers about student
reading. The researchers found that students who did ER accompanied by peer interaction
significantly outperformed students in the three other conditions on reading achievement
gains, and that the ER with teacher conferences and ER plus peer interaction conditions were
related to significantly greater gains on the attitude variable.
The following five-part explanation can be advanced for the potential benefits of
adding a group element to ER:
1. Students can infect each other with enthusiasm for reading.
Knowing that their peers are reading can motivate students to read more. Motivation
plays a key role in all education (Slavin, 1991), and reading is no exception. Fader (1971)
stresses that in the case of students who are weak readers, programs that attempt to remediate
via skills instruction are mistaking the symptom – low reading proficiency – for the disease –
low motivation. To increase motivation among weak readers, instead of remedial classes,
Fader suggests heterogeneous classes that incorporate cooperative learning.
Much of the literature on ER stresses, quite correctly, the role of the teacher as a
motivator and enthusiast for reading (Yu, 1993), e.g., urging that when students are reading
silently, teachers should be reading silently too. However, peers can sometimes provide more
powerful examples than teachers and other adults (Harris, 1998) in part because peers present
a more accessible model for students (Murphey, 1998, http://www.ic.nanzan-u.ac.jp/~mits/).
It may be easy for students to dismiss what teachers do and enjoy as something only an
expert could accomplish and relish, but the sight of peers enjoying reading offers an example
less easy to cast aside.
2. Students can suggest good ER materials to each other.
Recommendations from peers can lead students to explore new genres, new authors,
and new topics for ER (Parrott, 1987). Along the same lines, students can give each other
ideas about where to find ER materials, e.g., website addresses (Derewianka, 1997). Also,
just as peers can provide ideas about good materials to read and good places to find those
materials, they can also give advice on materials and places to avoid. Students might even
arrange to go together to visit a library, bookstore, website, or the bookshelves of one of their
3. Students can be a source of ER materials for each other.
Students can bring ER materials from their homes, relatives, neighbors, public
libraries, and other sources, such as websites (Lituanas, 1997). Further, students can write ER
materials that peers can read (Davidson, et al., 1997; Dupuy & McQuillan, 1997). This
writing can be done alone or in groups, but even if students write single-authored works, peer
feedback should be used, in addition to teacher feedback. These peer-generated materials are
likely to fit students well in terms both of reading level or of topic. Plus, knowing the author
increases one’s interest in reading. This is one of the reasons why The Reading Teacher and
other journals provide teachers with information on children’s book authors that teachers can
share with their students.
4. More proficient students can help other students.
Materials that less proficient students have read and discussed with more proficient
students can later be read alone. One form that these partnerships take is cross-age tutoring in
which an older student helps a younger partner (Rodgers, 1997; Samway, Whang, & Pippitt,
1995). This kind of coaching arrangement helps the student receiving the help, as well as the
student who provides help (Topping, 1995). Additionally, the more proficient students can
help their partners write stories that the less proficient students can then read on their own.
5. Peers provide an audience with whom students can share about what they have read.
After students have finished reading, many avenues exist for them to share about their
reading, including speaking, dramatizing, writing, and drawing. Sharing with others can make
the reading seem more meaningful by supplying an audience interested in knowing about
what was read (Gee, 1999; Lie, 1997; Strong, 1996). As students exchange ideas and feelings
that emerge in the course of their reading, peers can provide new perspectives. Additionally,
post-reading sharing encourages students to try out new language that they might have
encountered in their reading.
Swain (1999) argues that receiving large quantities of comprehensible input in the
target language is vital but not sufficient for second language acquisition to occur. This input,
Swain believes, must be supplemented by output in the form of speaking or writing. She
highlights three functions of output. One, while attempting to produce output, students may
notice gaps in their understanding. Two, output involves students in formulating hypotheses
about what works in the target language and then testing those hypotheses in the language
they produce and the response they receive from interlocutors. A third, less frequent function
of output implicates students in metatalk about the target language. For instance, they might
discuss what a word means or how a particular grammatical construction could be untangled.
In this section of the article, five reasons for adding a peer element to ER have been
proposed. These are: peers as models of enthusiasm for ER; peers as sources of ideas on what
to read and where to locate good ER materials; peers as creators of ER materials; peers as
tutors; and peers as audience and interlocutors in sharing about ER. The next section of the
article presents some principles for structuring student-student interaction in order to enhance
Cooperative Learning Principles
Cooperative learning (CL) can be defined as concepts and techniques for enhancing student-
student interaction. CL has a history dating back more than 100 years (Johnson & Johnson,
1994) and finds support from diverse traditions in psychology, social-psychology, sociology,
and education. Different cooperative learning theorists take different principles to be central
to CL. In this article, we will use Kagan¹s basic principles, captured by the acronym PIES:
Positive interdependence, Individual accountability, Equal participation, Simultaneous
interaction (Kagan, 1994). Here, we will briefly describe PIES. In the later sections of this
article that describe ER-CL activities, these basic principles will be used to analyze the group
activities designed to enhance ER.
Positive interdependence – Many consider this principle the key to CL (Johnson & Johnson,
1994). Positive interdependence is the feeling among group members that what helps one
member of the group helps all members, and what hurts one member hurts all members. In
other words, positive interdependence is the feeling of “one for all, and all for one”, the idea
that the group “sinks or swims together”, the belief that no one can go it alone – we all need
each other’s help. To analyze whether the activities described below promote positive
interdependence, we will ask these two questions: (1) Is a gain for one group member, a gain
for another? (2) Is help necessary or can one group member do the task alone?
Individual accountability – Sometimes a group can produce a good product, e.g., a good
essay, but only one or two members of the group would be able to produce an essay of nearly
similar quality working alone. In CL, the focus is not on what the group can do but on the
learning of each individual member of the group. This is where individual accountability
comes into play. Slavin (1988: 5) defines individual accountability as a condition in which
students feel that "[T]he team's success depends on the individual learning of all team
members". Thus, for a group to succeed each member must learn, display their learning, and
participate in the learning of others. When we analyze the activities to see if they encourage
individual accountability, we will ask, “Is individual public performance required?”
Equal participation – A common problem in group activities arises when some member or
members of the group take very active roles while others seem to do very little. When we do
the PIES analysis of the group activities, for the E we will ask, “How equal is the
Simultaneous interaction – In the typical teacher-fronted classroom, the dominant interaction
pattern consists of sequential interaction, i.e., one person speaking at a time. Commonly, it
goes like this: the teacher talks, then asks a question, and calls on a student. That student
answers, the teacher evaluates the answer, talks some more, and then calls on another student.
However, when a class does group activities, the interaction pattern changes to one of
simultaneous interaction, i.e., many people in the class speaking at a time. For instance, if a
class of 40 works in groups of four, ten people are potentially speaking at the same time, i.e.,
one person in each of the ten groups of four. One lesson to be learned from the principle of
simultaneous interaction is that the smaller the group, the more people who are speaking
simultaneously, e.g., if our class of 40 is divided into groups of two, 20 people are speaking
simultaneously, whereas if groups of ten are used, only four are speaking. Thus, from the
perspective of increasing the amount of student talk, the smaller the group, the better.
Increased student talk has been linked with progress in second language acquisition (Long &
Porter, 1985). For this final ingredient in the PIES analysis, we will ask, “What percent of
students in the entire class are overtly active at once?”
These four CL principles – equal participation, simultaneous interaction, individual
accountability, and positive interdependence – supply valuable insights into group
functioning. The literature on CL provides many ideas and techniques, accumulated from
many places over many years, for attempting to bring these four principles to life. A list of
internet resources on CL can be found at: www.iasce.net. The next section of the article
describes how some of these ideas and techniques can be applied to ER.
Using Cooperative Learning to Enhance ER
This section presents only a small sample of the many ways that ER can be combined
with student-student interaction as part of second language instruction. Each CL technique is
followed by an analysis (Kagan, 1994) of ways in which the technique incorporates each of
the four CL principles described above as PIES: P (positive interdependence), I (individual
accountability), E (equal participation), and S (simultaneous interaction). Some of the
techniques have been modified from their original version.
Most commonly, ER involves each student choosing their own book to read. This
method allows students to choose books that fit their proficiency level and interests, and to
read them at their own speed. However, sometimes ER is done via class readers (Greenwood,
1988). In a class reader scheme, the entire class reads the same book. A third possibility is for
the class to work in groups, with each group reading the same book but different groups
reading different books. We will be looking at CL techniques that can be used in each of
these three ER formats.
Heal (1998; http://langue.hyper.chubu.ac.jp/jalt/pub/tlt/98/dec/sh_heal.html) describes
a class reader program in which she used group activities to increase students’ motivation to
read the L2 book the class was studying. During various class sessions over the time the class
was reading a particular book, students met in groups to answer questions about the section of
the book the class had been assigned to read. Initially, the groups answered questions written
by the teacher. Later, each group wrote questions for other groups. Group rewards were used
to help motivate the groups. Heal reports that, based on her observations, this approach was
successful in increasing the quantity of student reading. Hess & Jasper (1995) also describe
the use of student questions to encourage ER among L2 students, this time in combination
with film versions of the books students are reading.
Two CL techniques that were not used by Heal but that could be when students are
reading the same book are Showdown (Kagan, 1994), for when students are answering the
teacher’s questions, and Trade-A-Problem (Kagan, 1994), for when students are generating
questions for other groups. These two techniques are described below and examined using a
1. Students sit in groups of four. Each group member has a number: 1, 2, 3, or 4. Student
number 3 is designated Showdown Captain.
2. Students design a team cheer or handshake. Cheers are preferably silent ones, e.g., an
“accordion clap” which combines the motions of clapping with those of pretending to
play an accordion - the two hands never meet.
3. Each student has a paper and pen. The teacher asks a question; students each write
their response without consulting groupmates. When each finishes, they put down
4. When all pens in a group are down, the Showdown Captain says, “Showdown!”
5. Beginning with the person to the captain’s right, each student reads their response.
The group compares responses and tries to reach consensus.
6. If the group reaches consensus, they celebrate, i.e., do their group cheer or handshake.
7. The class discusses responses.
8. The role of Showdown Captain rotates for the next question.
P: Groupmates provide each other immediate feedback to questions. This enhances
comprehension of the reading, especially when discrepant answers are discussed. The group
cannot celebrate until everyone agrees.
I: Students are accountable to their groupmates for sharing their answers to the question.
E: All students participate roughly equally as they write and share their answers.
S: After the captain says Showdown, one student per group (25% of the class) is speaking
1. Students are in groups of four; each group member has a number: 1, 2, 3, or 4. Each
writes a thinking question on one side of a piece of paper (to save paper, this can be a
half or quarter page) and a response to their own question on the other side of the
paper. [Previously, the class has discussed the difference between a text retrieval
question – one for which the answer can be retrieved directly from the text – and a
thinking question – one for which the answerer needs to go beyond the information
given in the text.]
2. Groupmates review each other’s questions and responses. They discuss the quality of
both the questions and responses. If necessary, the group makes changes. The
questions only are written on four separate slips of paper.
3. Each group exchanges their four questions with another group. Each group member
receives one of the other group’s questions and writes a first draft of a response to that
4. Each person reads out the question they received and their draft response. The group
discusses these responses and tries to reach consensus. The resulting responses are
5. The teacher calls a number. The member with that number takes their group’s
responses and explains them to the other group. The other group shares the responses
they had earlier written to their own questions.
6. The group representatives return to their original group. Groups discuss the other
7. Whole class discussion follows.
P: Students work together in their teams to prepare their questions and to respond to the
questions they receive. The group helps each other to prepare questions and responses. The
group needs to rely on the one member who was chosen at random to present their responses.
I: All group members need to initially work alone to create a question with a response and
then to write a response to a question from the other group. Both these are presented to the
group. Also, the group representative is chosen at random to present their group’s responses
to the other group. Thus, everyone needs to be ready.
E: Each student writes a question to send to another team and an initial response to the
question they receive from another team, and each group member has an opportunity to speak
when they read their questions and responses.
S: One student per group (25% of the class) is speaking simultaneously when they read their
questions and responses.
Individually Chosen Reading
When each student reads something different, students cannot discuss what they read
without first explaining something about the book, article, etc. This poses a problem in that
L2 students may lack the proficiency to give and understand these explanations. On the other
hand, each student reading different materials creates an information gap which students are
challenged to close. Below are some CL activities that may be useful in this context.
Art provides a medium via which students can share with each other about what they
read. For instance, students might design posters, murals, board games, collages, book
covers, bookmarks, comics, and drawings of key scenes to advertise books they like. Art
supports L2 students as they do language tasks.
RoundRobin (Kagan, 1994) is a CL technique that can be used after each student has
completed a simple art project, such as designing a bookmark.
1. Students are in groups of four.
2. One at a time, moving around the group in a clockwise direction, each student stands,
shows their bookmark to the group, and explains its significance in relation to the
3. The person to the speaker’s right asks a question or makes a comment.
P: The group cannot complete RoundRobin unless everyone takes their turn. Each person
needs a groupmate to ask them a question. Sharing their art relating to the reading with
groupmates improves comprehension and retention of the reading for both the presenter and
the students hearing the presentation.
I: Students are accountable for creating a bookmark, sharing their bookmark, asking a
groupmate a question or making a comment, and answering a groupmate¹s question or
responding to their comment.
E: Every group member has a turn to show and explain their bookmark.
S: One student per group (25% of the class) is speaking simultaneously when they tell about
their bookmark and ask about/comment on what another has said.
While students are preparing their art, they can share ideas by using the CL technique
Roving Reporter (Kagan, 1994). This can be used either before or after RoundRobin.
D. Roving Reporter
1. Students are in groups of four; each group member has a number: 1, 2, 3, or 4.
2. When students are doing their ER artwork or other projects, the teacher calls a
number. The student with that number becomes their group’s Roving Reporter. The
Roving Reporter visits another group(s) to learn what that group’s members are
doing. The Roving Reporter should ask at least one question to each member of the
group they visit.
3. The Roving Reporters return and report to their groups. Ideas collected by the
Reporters can furnish new ideas about how to do the artwork or other projects. Also,
and more importantly, the Reporter provides a means of spreading students’ book
suggestions not just among the members of a particular group, but throughout the
class. Another means of spreading the need to read is to display students’ artwork.
4. A new number can be called, thus allowing other students to roam. One way to
facilitate more students roaming is to have each roamer visit only one group.
Subsequent roamers can visit new territory.
P: Only one member can go off roving; the others have to stay behind. Each group depends
on their Reporter to bring back useful information.
I: Reporters need to display to their group what they learned from the other groups. Each
person needs to answer one question from the Roving Reporter who visits them.
E: The Roving Reporter asks a question to each member of the group(s) they visit. Also, each
group member may be given a turn at the role of Reporter.
S: Students simultaneously share about their art work with the Reporter who has visited their
group. One Reporter in each group shares what they learned from the other group.
One way for students to recommend books to their peers is by way of book reviews.
These reviews can be brief, rather than the lengthy reviews which cause some students to shy
away from reading to avoid writing the required book review. These short reviews can take
many forms, including: a system of stars (five stars = great read; one star = avoid); a one-
paragraph critique; a graphic organizer such as a skeleton that includes the book’s title and
author; a rating; a brief plot summary; and brief comments. These reviews not only alert
students to books they might enjoy but also warn them of books they may wish to give a
miss. These reviews can be presented to groupmates using the RoundRobin technique
described above. Another CL technique that could be used is Three-Step Interview (Kagan,
E. Three-Step Interview
1. Students are in groups of 4.
2. In pairs, they interview each other to find out their ratings of the books they read.
3. Each student tells the other pair about their interviewee’s book.
P: If an interviewee has not prepared their review, the interviewer has nothing to report to the
other pair. Groupmates rely on each other to share the content of their interview.
I: Each student is under pressure to read and to prepare their review so that they can answer
the interview questions. Each student is accountable for listening carefully to their interview
partner, because they must share the information with the other pair in their foursome.
E: Every student is interviewed, interviews, and shares their findings with groupmates.
S: Two students per group (50% of the class) are speaking simultaneously when the
interviews are being conducted, and one student per group (25% of the class) is speaking
simultaneously when the group members report on their interviews.
Midway between the class all reading the same book and each student reading a
different book is the situation where small groups of students read the same book. In
Literature Circles (Dupuy, 1997, 1998; Dupuy, Tse, & Cook, 1996; MacGillivray, Tse, &
McQuillan, 1995; McQuillan, 1996; McQuillan & Tse, 1997), L2 students read for pleasure
in small, self-selected groups that meet regularly to discuss books that the members
themselves have chosen. Although students are working in their Literature Circles without
direct instruction from teachers, teachers still have valuable roles. These roles include helping
students form groups, advising students on which books to read, assisting with
comprehension problems, unobtrusively observing group progress, and assuring students that
pleasure reading can indeed promote language acquisition. Hill and Van Horn (1997)
describe a similar technique called Book Clubs.
F. Collaborative Skills
Student discussions in Literature Circles and Book Clubs could be enhanced if students
have instruction in the use of collaborative skills (Johnson & Johnson, 1994). A wide variety
of such skills are vital to successful interaction. Examples of roles that students could play in
their Literature Circles are:
1. Paraphraser, who repeats the previous speaker’s ideas using other words;
2. Praiser, who points out good ideas or actions by individual group members or the
3. Controversy kindler, who brings up controversial issues and differing points of view
in order to help the group see situations from different angles; and
4. Connector, who points out connections between, on one hand, ideas in the book the
group has read or ideas generated in the group’s discussion, and, on the other hand,
other works they have read or experiences they have had.
Roles rotate to provide everyone with opportunities to practice these collaborative
skills. It might be argued that using roles would make the discussion artificial; however,
roles can increase student awareness of group function and encourage them to try out
roles and the language that accompanies the roles. One way teachers can assist students in
using the language appropriate to their roles is to teach the gambits that accompany a
given role, e.g., for the controversy kindler, phrases such as “Have you ever thought
about it this way?” and “What about …?” Perhaps after specific roles have been used a
number of times, assigning roles will no longer be necessary. Also, teachers and/or
students can suggest certain roles in order to promote better group interaction or to
provide opportunities to use certain features of language, e.g., a particular function such
as disagreeing politely.
P: No one can do all the roles. Also, everyone needs to have read the group’s book to
contribute to the discussion. By doing their role well, each group member contributes to their
I: Each person is encouraged to perform their designated role.
E: The use of roles encourages each student to participate as they play their role. Also, roles
such as paraphraser can rotate so that after each person speaks another person paraphrases
what has been said.
S: One student per Literature Circle (which are normally of small size) is speaking
Another example of the use of group roles, this time when each student has read a different
book, is Book Wheels (Jacobs, 1993, adapted from Laughlin, 1987).
G. Book Wheels
1. Teachers and/or students construct Books Wheels from cardboard or poster paper.
The wheel is divided into 8-12 quadrants and a thinking question is written in each
quadrant. A spinable arrow is put in the middle of the wheel.
2. Students are in groups of four. After they have finished reading their books, etc., one
group member plays the role of Reporter, giving a brief summary of the book they
3. Another student is the Spinner, who spins the arrow.
4. The third group member is the Questioner who asks the question indicated by where
on the wheel the arrow stopped.
5. After the Reporter answers the question, the last member of the group, Questioner II,
asks a follow-up question.
6. Each Reporter answers six questions before the roles change and a new member
becomes the Reporter.
P: The group members depend on each other to report on their books so that the other
members can ask them questions. As the Book Wheels procedure follows a sequence,
students depend of groupmates to play their roles in the procedure.
I: Each group member needs to prepare to report on their book and to answer questions about
it. Also, they need to listen carefully to other members’ reports and answers so as to be able
to ask follow-up questions, and they all need to play the other designated, rotating roles.
E: Every group member has an equal opportunity to speak when they perform their rotating
Book Wheels roles.
S: One student per group (25% of the class) is speaking simultaneously when they perform
As mentioned earlier, students can be a source of ER materials for each other. In the
spirit of collaboration, students can work together to create materials for themselves and
others. For instance, Malgawi (1999) describes how the lack of reading materials in Nigerian
schools and the lack of a reading culture in students' homes is partially addressed by having
students work in groups to tell each other and then write out local folktales in the L2. To
prepare themselves to write, students read storybooks by other authors. Illustrations and book
covers are added after the teacher has given feedback on the writing. These books become
part of a class library and can be exchanged with other classes.
Ideas from CL can supplement Malgawi’s scheme. Here is one way this might work.
H. Peer Feedback on Writing
1. Students work in groups of four. Each group member writes their own story.
2. The other three members serve as editors, with their names listed on the book as such.
3. Editing focuses on aspects such as fidelity to the story genre, appeal to the intended
audience, clarity of plot, depth of description of setting and characters, and any other
points that the teacher and students feel need attention. Each group member uses a
different color pen or font when doing their editing. To emphasize the collaborative
skill of praising, when editing students highlight not just what needs improvement but
also the strengths of the draft and what they, the editors, can learn from the draft about
the elements of good writing.
4. In addition to written feedback, the group holds discussions about each book.
5. After the books have been completed, group members survey their classmates and
other readers to see how the group’s books were received by their intended audience.
P: Because all groupmates contribute to each book, the books bear the names of all group
members, rather than belonging solely to the original author. Reaction to the group’s books
for their readers provides a kind of feedback to the whole group.
I: Each group member is responsible for writing and revising their drafts, and for giving
feedback on other’s draft. Who wrote each piece of feedback is seen by the color used.
E: Everyone is encouraged to participate, because everyone is to write their own story and to
provide feedback on the other stories.
S: Each student is active when they are writing their stories and when giving feedback. One
member per group is talking during peer feedback discussions.
As this article is appearing in an online journal, it is appropriate to point out that the
internet offers students many new ways to enact the types of collaboration explained above.
For instance, chat rooms can be used to discuss books and art about books can be drawn
using computer tools or scanned in. All the CL techniques described here could be done
electronically. Further, the internet offers students a greatly expanded range of groupmates
with whom to collaborate about reading.
This article has presented a rationale and practical suggestions for adding the element
of student-student cooperation to the solitary task of reading in an L2. One colleague who
read an earlier draft of this article was somewhat skeptical, based on past, less-than-thrilling
experience trying to motivate L2 students to read extensively. After all, how can students
collaborate on post-reading activities if they have not made the effort to read in the first
place? Yes, motivation is key, and group activities, even those structured according to CL
principles such as PIES, are not a magic wand that guarantees everything will work well. CL
activities are only a potential part of the solution. The argument made in this article is that
when ER is supplemented with CL, peers may be able enhance ER by: modeling enthusiasm
for reading, acting as resources for finding existing reading materials, creating more reading
materials, facilitating comprehension, and serving as an interactive audience for sharing
about what has been read.
Another qualm raised by this astute colleague concerns the issue of the L1 when
students do group activities: Is it okay for students to use their L1 while working in groups?
This important issue is one that lies beyond the scope of this article. Suffice it to say that
context plays a key role, including such factors as the language context outside the classroom
and the proficiency level of the students. Further discussion of this and other issues
implicated in the use of ER in L2 instruction can be found at a website devoted to the topic:
To conclude, reading brings with it great delights. ER programs hope to help students
experience these delights by spreading the joy of reading. As Nuttall (1989, p. 192) puts it:
“Reading is like an infectious disease: it is caught not taught.” CL offers a means by which
students can share this joy with one another. In the words of a Native American proverb, “To
have joy one must share it. Happiness was born a twin.”
Acknowledgements: The authors would like to thank Andy Barfield, Julian Bamford, Miguel
Kagan, Stephen Krashen, Tom Robb, and Rob Waring for their feedback on earlier versions
of this paper.
Coady, J. (1997). L2 vocabulary acquisition through extensive reading. In J. Coady & T.
Huckin (Eds.), Second language vocabulary acquisition (pp. 225-237). Cambridge:
Cambridge University Press.
Davidson, C., Ogle, D., Ross, D., Tuhaka, J., & Ng, S. M. (1997). Student-created reading
materials for extensive reading. In G. M. Jacobs, C. Davis, & W. A. Renandya (Eds.),
Successful strategies for extensive reading (pp. 144-160). Singapor SEAMEO Regional
Dupuy, B. (1997). Literature Circles: An alternative framework for
increasing intermediate FL students' comprehension of texts in the
target language. Mosaic, 5(1) 13-16.
Dupuy, B. (1998). Cercles de lectur Une autre approche de la lecture
dans la classe intermédiaire de français langue étrangère.[Literature
Circles: A different reading approach in the intermediate French
classroom] The Canadian Modern Language Review, 54, 579-585.
Dupuy, B. & McQuillan, J. (1997). Handcrafted books: Two for the price of one. In G. M.
Jacobs, C. Davis, & W. A. Renandya (Eds.), Successful strategies for extensive reading (pp.
171-180). Singapor SEAMEO Regional Language Centre.
Dupuy, B., Tse, L., & Cook, T. (1996). Bringing books into the classroom: First steps in
turning college-level ESL students into readers. TESOL Journal, 5, 10-15.
Day, R. R., & Bamford, J. (1997). Extensive reading in the second language classroom. New
Derewianka, B. (1997). Using the internet for extensive reading. In G. M., Jacobs, C. Davis,
& W. A. Renandya (Eds.). Successful strategies for extensive reading (pp. 128-143).
Singapor SEAMEO Regional Language Centre.
Elley, W. (1996b). Using Book Floods to raise literacy levels in developing countries. In V.
Greaney (Ed.), Promoting reading in developing countries: Views on making reading
materials accessible to increase literacy levels (pp. 148-163). Newark, DE: International
Fader, D. (1971). Shaping an English curriculum to fit the junior college
student. Junior College Research Review, 5(10), 1-4. ERIC Document Reproduction Service
Gee, R. W. (1999). Encouraging ESL students to read. TESOL Journal, 8(1), 3-7.
Greaney, V. (1996). (Ed.). Promoting reading in developing countries: Views on making
reading materials accessible to increase literacy levels. Newark, DE: International Reading
Greenwood, J. (1988). Class readers. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Harris, J. R. (1998). The nurture assumption: Whey children turn out the way they do. New
York: The Free Press.
Heal, L. (1998, December). Motivating large reading classes. The Language Teacher Online.
<http://langue.hyper.chubu.ac.jp/jalt/pub/tlt/98/dec/sh_heal.html> retrieved 4 June, 1999.
Hess, N., & Jasper, S. P. (1995). A blending of media for extensive reading. TESOL Journal,
Hill, M. H., Van Horn, L. (pp. 98-108) Extensive reading through book clubs: How book
clubs have changed lives. In G. M. Jacobs, C. Davis, & W. A. Renandya (Eds.), Successful
strategies for extensive reading (pp. 98-108). Singapor SEAMEO Regional Language Centre.
Hsui, V. Y. (2000). Guided independent reading (GIR): A programme to nurture lifelong
readers. Teaching & Learning, 20(2), 31-39.
Kagan, S. (1994). Cooperative learning. San Clemente, CA: Kagan Cooperative Learning.
Krashen, S. (1993). The power of reading. Englewood, CO: Libraries Unlimited.
Laughlin, G. (1987). Book report roulette. In D. W. Johnson, R. T. Johnson, & E. J. Holubec
(Eds.), Structuring cooperative learning: Lesson plans for teachers (pp. 145-156). Edina,
MN: Interaction Book Company.
Lie, A. (1997). The reading and writing connection: Community journal. In G. M. Jacobs, C.
Davis, & W. A. Renandya (Eds.), Successful strategies for extensive reading (pp. 161-170).
Singapore: SEAMEO Regional Language Centre.
Lituanas, P.M. (1997). Collecting materials for extensive reading.
MacGillivray, L, Tse, L., & McQuillan, J. (1995). Second language and literacy teachers
considering literature circles: A play. Journal of Adolescent & Adult Literacy, 39, 36-44.
Malgwi, G. J. (1999). Building a class library using local folktales. English Teaching Forum,
Manning, G., & Manning, M. (1984, May). What models of recreational reading make a
difference? Reading World, 23, 375-380.
McQuillan, J. (1994). Reading versus grammar: What students think is pleasurable for
language acquisition. Applied Language Learning, 5(2), 95-100.
McQuillan, J. (1996). How should heritage languages be taught?: The effects of a free
voluntary reading program. Foreign Language Annals, 29, 56-72.
McQuillan, J. & Tse, L. (pp. 90-97) Let’s talk about books: Using literature circles in second
language classrooms. In G. M. Jacobs, C. Davis, & W. A. Renandya (Eds.), Successful
strategies for extensive reading (pp. 90-97). Singapor SEAMEO Regional Language Centre.
Murphey, T. (1998). Motivating with near peer role models. In B. Visgatis (Ed.) JALT97
Conference Proceedings: Trends and Transitions (pp.201-205). Hamamatsu, Japan: Japan
Association for Language Teaching.
Nagy, W. E., Anderson, R. C., & Herman, P. A. (1987). Learning word meanings from
context during normal reading. American Educational Research Journal, 24, 237-270.
Ng, S.M. (1988). Research into children's language and reading
development. Singapor Institute of Education.
Ng, S.M. (1994). Changing the English language curriculum in Brunei
Darussalam. International Journal of Educational Development. 14(4),
Nuttall, C. (1989). Teaching reading skills in a foreign language. Oxford: Heinemann
Parrott, J. (1987). Reading syndicates: A working model for the language classroom. Reading
in a Foreign Language, 3, 411- 416
Rodgers, T. S. (1997). Partnerships in reading and writing. In G. M. Jacobs, C. Davis, & W.
A. Renandya (Eds.), Successful strategies for extensive reading (pp. 120-127). Singapor
SEAMEO Regional Language Centre.
Slavin, R. E. (1991). Educational psychology. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall.
Strong, G. (1996). Using literature for language teaching in ESOL. Thought Currents in
English Literature, 69, 291-305. ERIC Document Reproduction Service No. ED407860
Swain, M. 1999. Integrating language and content teaching through collaborative tasks. In C. S.
Ward and W. A. Renandya (Eds.), New insights for the language teacher (pp. 125-147).
Singapore: SEAMEO Regional Language Centre.
Topping, K. 1995. Paired reading, spelling & writing: The handbook for teachers and parents.
Yu, V. W. S. (1993). Extensive reading programs--How can they best benefit the teaching
and learning of English? TESL Reporter, 26(1), 1-9.
Yu, V. W. S. (1999). Promoting second language development and reading habits through an
extensive reading scheme. In Y. M. Cheah, & Ng, S. M. (Eds.) Language instruction issues
in Asian classrooms (pp.59-74). Newark, DE: International Reading Association.