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Reading Alone Together: Enhancing Extensive Reading via Student-Student Cooperation in Second Language Instruction

  • Kampung Senange Charity and Education Foundation Singapore


Extensive reading (ER) programs involve students in silently reading large quantities of material. Research suggests that extensive reading is associated with gains in first and second language proficiency. Further, extensive reading can help learners develop a reading habit and increase their level of autonomy. This paper begins with a discussion of the benefits for second language learners of combining the solitary activity of reading with group activities in which students share with classmates about what they have read. Cooperative learning is recommended as a source of principles for organizing these post-reading group activities. These cooperative learning principles include positive interdependence, individual accountability, equal participation, and simultaneous interaction. The heart of the presentation consists of a variety of post-reading group activities. The way these activities embody the cooperative learning principles is explained. Different post-reading activities are suggested for when the entire class reads the same book, when a group of students reads the same book, and when each student reads a different book. A Web site on extensive reading in second language instruction is also provided, which includes an annotated bibliography, research articles, and ideas for beginning an extensive reading program. (Contains 41 references.) (KFT)
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
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,
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
its effectiveness.
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: 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.
Class Readers
Heal (1998; 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
PIES analysis.
A. Showdown
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
their pen.
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.
PIES analysis
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
B. Trade-A-Problem
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
written down.
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
group’s responses.
7. Whole class discussion follows.
PIES analysis
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.
C. RoundRobin
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.
PIES analysis
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.
PIES analysis
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.
Short Reviews
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.
PIES analysis
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.
Literature Circles
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
entire group;
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.
PIES analysis
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
group’s success.
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.
PIES analysis
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
their role.
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.
PIES analysis
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.
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... Different CL theorists have proposed different sets of CL principles. Many, however, consider positive interdependence to be the most important principle in CL (Jacobs & Farrell, 2012;Jacobs & Gallo, 2002;. Positive interdependence is "a feeling among group mates that everyone is important and necessary and that what helps one member helps others and what hurts one group member hurts the rest" (Jacobs & Kimura, 2013, p. 19). ...
... This positive interdependence is usually lacking in ER or ERWL, because they typically involve independent reading without peer interaction. However, by combining ER or ERWL with CL (i.e., combining individual reading with cooperative activities such as group activities on reading), ER or ERWL can become a cooperative activity where learners can increase each other's motivation through peer interaction such as providing each other with an audience in discussions on their reading and peer book suggestions (Jacobs & Farrell, 2012;Jacobs & Gallo, 2002;Jacobs & Renandya, 2015). Furthermore, ER, EL, and ERWL are all input-focused activities where learners are exposed to a large amount of comprehensible input, while CL tasks are output-focused activities where learners are encouraged to produce comprehensible output. ...
... Therefore, it is assumed that also for ERWL programs, it is crucial that students understand the programs' potential effectiveness in improving their L2 proficiency and how to practice ERWL. CL tasks also need explicit teaching of CL techniques (examples below) and cooperative skills such as asking for clarification and disagreeing politely in order to be successful (Jacobs & Chau, 2021;Jacobs & Farrell, 2012;Jacobs & Gallo, 2002;. Therefore, in the first class, as well as in later classes, teachers should explain the why and how of both ERWL and CL while referring to the evidence as to their efficacy provided by previous studies. ...
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In this teaching-oriented project, we propose an extensive reading while listening (ERWL) program in which cooperative learning (CL) tasks are also implemented. We believe that by implementing ERWL combined with CL tasks, teachers can invite their learners to improve all four language skills while simultaneously enhancing their motivation for ERWL. We will first explain the benefits of ERWL and CL for second language (L2) learners and then the rationale for combining these two learning methods. Next, we will present CL tasks designed for students to improve all four language skills while doing ERWL.
... Online news reading falls directly under extensive reading which is meant for search of general information, enjoyment and development of general reading skills. In an extensive reading, students explore large quantities of materials, generally, at a level that allows learners to gain at least a good understanding of what they read without outside help (Jacobs & Gallo, 2002). Thus, according to Harmer (2007), to get a maximum benefit from students' study, they need to be involved in both extensive and intensive reading. ...
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There are studies on Students’ Internet use within the framework of online news reading, however, none seems to have effectively explored the practice for teaching. Recognising this gap, this study assessed the online news patronage among students of UDS-Ghana with the aim of galvanizing the practice for pedagogical gains. A questionnaire was used to collect data from 180 students selected randomly from six faculties, followed by an interview of 10 language teachers chosen from the Department of Languages. The quantitative data was interpreted descriptively using percentages, while content analysis was adopted for processing the qualitative data. The findings showed that online news reading was high among students. Out of 180 participants, 127(71%) read online news daily or weekly and,, and were the most preferred sites. Most participants, 49(27%), read news online for entertainment and fashion, while a few read it for language acquisition and other purposes. The teachers interviewed concerning possible exploits of the practice, indicated that they knew of it, however, they could not effectively explore it in classroom teaching. They did, however, acknowledge that the practice could be useful as basics for teaching vocabulary, reading comprehension, and others. In view of the findings, it is recommended that stable Internet is ensured on campuses to enhance students' good use of the practice. Teachers are also urged to explore the practice in language teaching activities and educate students on the benefits of reading online news. Article visualizations: </p
... Using the CL principle of Heterogeneous Grouping, students form 12 groups of four students and one group of two students. While reading is usually a silent, individual activity, students can benefit from peer discussion of what they have read (Jacobs & Gallo, 2002). The groups of four divide themselves into heterogeneous pairs. ...
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This article links two approaches to promoting less competitive, more positive, and more student centered learning environments for language learners: cooperative learning and positive psychology. The article begins by explaining each of these two approaches. First, the article provides background, including research support, for cooperative learning and explains eight cooperative learning principles: maximum peer interactions, equal opportunities to participate, individual accountability, positive interdependence, group autonomy, heterogeneous grouping, teaching collaborative skills, and cooperation as a value. Second, the article supplies similar background, including research support, for positive psychology (also known as positive education), including seven principles: relationships with others, Many adults and children see the world as a place dominated by competition, a place in which this competition often leads people to have negative feelings toward others and even toward themselves (Bregman, 2020). Fortunately, alternatives exist to competition and the resulting negativity. Two of these alternatives are cooperative learning (Johnson, Johnson, & Holubec, 2013) and positive psychology (Seligman & Csikszentmihalyi, 2000). Cooperative learning encourages students and others to work together toward common goals, and positive psychology encourages people to look for and build upon what is good in people and situations. This article begins by explaining cooperative learning and positive psychology, and how they overlap. It then discusses how cooperative learning and positive psychology can be combined in language education, and illustrates this combination with two sample lessons.
... Robb argued that these quizzes form part of a long-term strategy to promote students' enjoyment of reading. Other elements of this strategy could include help to students in selecting comprehensible reading materials, tools for overcoming reading difficulties, opportunities to discuss books with peers (Jacobs & Gallo, 2002), and doable quizzes. Robb cited Brierley (2008) who maintained that under appropriate circumstances, receiving feedback via quizzes can be intrinsically motivating for students, as when students do well on quizzes, they see themselves developing as readers. ...
This book helps teachers understand the links between cooperative learning (also known as collaborative learning and peer learning) and other student-centered approaches. It discusses cooperative learning and communities of practice; cooperative learning and neuroscience; cooperative learning and critical thinking; cooperative learning and alternative assessment; cooperative learning and multiple intelligence; cooperative learning and positive education; cooperative learning and meeting the needs of introverts; and cooperative learning and justice issues, with each chapter exploring a different aspect of how education can be student centered. If you are looking for a fresh perspective on cooperative learning, this book is for you. It helps you explore how cooperative learning is so much more than just asking students to arrange themselves in a group, and considers how cooperative learning can fit with other areas of education that you care about. Although the two authors both completed their PhDs in the West, they have taught in Asia for the past 25+ years, working with students and teachers from a wide variety of Asian and other countries, and with teachers from a very wide variety of content areas who teach students of many different ages.
... Encouraging student-to-student cooperation may enhance ER whether graded readers are selected individually or as a group. Adding group activities may spread reading enthusiasm, encourage reading recommendations, allow collaboration between learners of different proficiency, and make reading more meaningful as participants share their opinions and feelings about graded readers (Jacobs & Gallo, 2002). Group discussions could give participants a deeper reason to read than completing quizzes, tests, and recording word counts. ...
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The current study investigated the engagement of University EFL leaners with online graded readers using the commercially available website Xreading ( Three weekly self-report questionnaires were used to measure engagement with the selection, reading and discussion of the graded readers. Engagement was measured with three behavioural constructs (concentration, effort, and success) and three emotional constructs (interest, enjoyment and challenge). Two research questions were devised to investigate the appropriateness of the task and to evaluate how the selection method (individual-selected or group-selected) affected self-reported engagement. Whilst overall the task was deemed to be appropriate for this group of learners, several improvement areas were identified if this activity were to be implemented in the future. The data was analysed from the perspective of the sample and inferential statistics were run despite the small sample size (n=8) to inform future research where a larger sample size could be used. The mean reported scores were high in each stage of the activity, suggesting students were engaged. In the comparison of the individual and group selected self-reported engagement scores, there were no statistically significant results, suggesting the method of graded reader selection does not affect engagement with this activity. Whilst, the small sample size (n=8) is an issue, the results suggest that instructors should not rule out trying extensive reading with group selected readers. (Cooper, C. R. (2020). Engagement with the selection, reading and discussion of online graded readers, a comparison between individual and group selected conditions. The Journal of International Languages and Cultures, Himeji Dokkyo University 1, 21-38.)
... Various pedagogical theories (e.g., Bang, 2002;Susser and Robb, 1990;Yamashita, 2013) and activities in class related to students' graded readers were adopted in my lessons or the ERC from various sources (e.g., Bamford and Day, 2004;Jacobs, 2000;Robb and Susser, 1989;and references in Atsuta, 2003). Some of these include the following: ...
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Reflection from teachers of English as second language.
... Various pedagogical theories (e.g., Bang, 2002;Susser and Robb, 1990;Yamashita, 2013) and activities in class related to students' graded readers were adopted in my lessons or the ERC from various sources (e.g., Bamford and Day, 2004;Jacobs, 2000;Robb and Susser, 1989;and references in Atsuta, 2003). Some of these include the following: ...
Full-text available
My teacher research journey began once I started teaching at the university level in Thailand; I realized students had fossilization problems with the use of articles and the pronunciation of final ‘s’. My aim was to intervene at primary school, to make a difference. Through networking and building relationships, I was eventually allowed access to schools.
This study investigated Arabic teachers’ perceptions of the practice of extensive reading (ER) in the United Arab Emirates (UAE). The study was conducted as part of an interdisciplinary research project at one of the largest higher education institutions (HEIs) in the country. The project aimed to develop and launch an Arabic online reading tracking tool to mirror its successful English forerunner, the M-Reader. The present study aimed to use teachers’ perceptions to proactively address any challenges regarding the support needed from HEIs before launching the tool. A total of 34 teachers of Arabic courses in an HEI responded to an online questionnaire, which explored the reasons for, methods and approaches used, and motivation techniques and difficulties associated with implementing ER. The results showed that the teachers were aware of the benefits associated with ER practice and its positive impact on language competency. They reported encountering difficulties, which included students’ lack of interest and time for reading and their inability to read independently. Teachers also reported challenges in motivating students to read and in assessing ER practices, particularly when ER is a standalone course rather than a part of the curriculum. Based on the results, we offer practical suggestions that can benefit ER practitioners in HEIs. We conclude by offering a set of implications for the successful implementation of ER programs.
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This paper is interested in searching about Omani teachers' and students' perceptions about extensive reading and how to promote it in Omani schools. The ultimate purpose of this paper is to further the understanding of the benefits of carrying out extensive reading in English classes and find out the best ways to encourage students to read extensively. Also, this paper is searching for the issues which impeded the existence of extensive reading in English classes in Omani schools. In order to obtain comprehensive data mixed method was employed in this study through combining "interrelated questionnaire and interview" (Dornyei, 2007, p. 24). The data gathered by these methods were used to answer three questions which are 1) What are the students' and teachers' perception about extensive reading? 2) What are the factors that curb the implementation of extensive reading practices in schools? 3) How the current extensive reading practices in Omani schools could be improved? The findings of the study revealed that teachers and students perceived extensive reading positively and it showed their understanding of its possible benefits. However, there are a number of issues which impeded such positive practice. As well, the findings show the respondents agreement on some practical procedures to promote extensive reading culture in Omani schools.
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