Academic journal article Modern Journal of Language Teaching Methods

An Investigation of the Effects of Extensive Reading on the Writing Ability of Efl Students: The Effect of Group Work

Academic journal article Modern Journal of Language Teaching Methods

An Investigation of the Effects of Extensive Reading on the Writing Ability of Efl Students: The Effect of Group Work

Article excerpt

ABSTRACT

This study attempted to investigate the impact of extensive reading (ER) on writing ability of Iranian EFL students. It also took a further step to explore the effect of adding group work activity to extensive reading program to find its possible positive effect on improving writing ability. The present research had two experimental groups with no control group. The candidates were 35 students majoring in English Literature as ER plus GW (group work) group and 30 students majoring in English Language Teaching as ER group both taking the course of reading comprehension (II) at the University of Mazandaran The candidates were first given a reading comprehension test taken from TOEFL from which 24 students were chosen as the participants of this study according to their marks. The ER plus GW group read one graded reader each week at home, discussed the summary or related topic in the groups of five or six. The group members took notes on each other's talk including new vocabulary and language structure. ER group, on the other hand, read one book each week and wrote its summary at home without any discussion. Both groups were asked to write about a common topic one before and one at the end of the program as their pre/posttest. Their writings then were subjected to analysis of the error-free T-units to calculate the means for later comparisons. The results of t-tests revealed that adding group work to ER was fairly effective in improving the investigated writing aspects. A friendly interview with ER plus GW group for the sake of participants' self-rating of group work at the end of the program showed that the majority suggested reading a common book in groups would be more interesting and effective than different stories in each group which is in contrast with the nature of ER.

KEY WORDS: Extensive reading, writing ability, group work.

Introduction

In language learning, reading is a very important and active skill. The ability to read in a second language is considered to be an essential skill for students. Learning to read requires cognitive effort and is a long process in both the first and second language (Grabe, 2006). There are four styles considered for reading including: skimming, scanning, intensive reading (IR), and extensive reading (ER). However, nowadays, extensive reading is not considered as a reading style but rather as an approach to second and foreign language reading instruction (Day and Bamford, 2004).Harold Palmer was the first person who applied the term ER and IR in 1968. Intensive reading is reading complex material under the teacher's control by the aim of detailed understanding (Imrie, 2004; Nishino, 2007; Gardner, 2004; etc). On the other hand, ER is a kind of rapid, silent reading of large and easy to understand material without teachers' help in a stress-free environment, usually done outside the classroom (Asraf and Ahmad, 2003; Imrie, 2007; Gardner, 2004 Nishino, 2007). For many decades, people have been increasingly interested in ER programs. Extensive reading is being employed in reading classes for both native and non-native English students. The purpose of ER is improving reading skills by reading a large quantity of materials that are comprehensive and pleasurable enough. It can help improve reading skills in native and foreign languages and have a positive effect on the enhancement of other language skills. Research studies show that students become better and more confident readers through employing ER program. Furthermore, they write better, their listening and speaking abilities improve, and their vocabularies get richer. In addition, ER makes students motivated to learn the target language and develop positive attitudes toward the new language. ER has gained its theoretical support from Krashen's Input Hypothesis. Research has confirmed that comprehensible input is among the key factors contributing to language acquisition. Regarding extensive reading, it is the input hypothesis that is of central importance. …

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