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Reading with/for pleasure in ELT

Woman reading a book in bedEva Balážová, an ELT Consultant for Oxford University Press in Slovakia, highlights the importance of encouraging students to enjoy reading in English as a way of improving their communicative competence.

Reading a book in English???

People usually read in their mother tongue. Foreign language readers encounter many obstacles that wipe all the pleasure out and can make it a real pain. On the other hand, reading in English undeniably enhances the learning process.

What does pleasure from reading mean in general?

It is everything that drives us to read and read again, all the reasons why we say ´I like reading books,´ everything that helps us immerse ourselves in the content. We like reading because it encourages our curiosity, our fantasy, it whips up our desire to know more. What’s more, we enjoy reading in a safe environment without any stress, pressure or assignments.

Reading for/with pleasure in ELT proves invaluable for developing communicative competence. When reading for pleasure we focus more on content than vocabulary or structures. In that case students think in English, which is necessary for successful communication. Furthermore, students build a positive attitude towards language and develop their critical thinking and creativity skills.

My idea of how to incorporate this into the school syllabus is to establish a readers club.

It offers students the chance to spend their free time with a good book, reading in English. I know that their attitude might be: ´Why should I stay at school for longer than I have to?´ … ´It´ll be a drag. I can´t be bothered sitting and reading for the whole lesson.´ … ´What for? ´…

So how do we get over these objections and encourage students to give up their free time for reading?

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