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Six reasons why ER is good for language learning

In this article, Sue Leather summarises an article by Alan Maley, explaining six known benefits to language learners who engage in Extensive Reading.

Here are six reasons why ER is good for language learning. Did you think of any of these reasons?

1. ER improves general language competence

girl at a desk with lots of books.

In ways we so far do not fully understand, the benefits of ER extend beyond reading. It affects writing, speaking and grammar. ER seems to benefit all language skills, not just reading.

2.ER creates the motivation to read more

woman holding a large stack of library books.

Success leads to success. As students read successfully in the foreign language, so they are encouraged to read more. The effect on self-esteem and motivation of reading one’s first book in the foreign language is great.

3.ER offers comprehensible input*

two students sitting at a desk studying together.

Reading is the most available form of comprehensible input. If carefully chosen to suit learners’ level, it offers them repeated encounters with language items they have already met. This helps them to consolidate what they already know and to extend it. Experts in language learning agree that the best way to learn a language is by repeated exposure to comprehensible input*.

Comprehensible input is language input that can be understood by listeners despite them not understanding all the words and grammatical structures in it.

4.ER helps improve writing

man writing at a desk.

There is a clear link between reading and writing. The more we read, the better we write.

5.ER helps vocabulary growth

person using a computer to practise vocabulary.

Vocabulary is not learned immediately. ER gives students exposure to words many, many times, and helps them to acquire them . There have been many studies of vocabulary acquisition from ER.

6.ER helps learners to become independent

man sitting in a cafe doing independent study.

ER is a very effective way to develop learner independence. Reading is a private, individual activity. It can be done anywhere, at any time of day. Readers can start and stop whenever they like, and read at the speed they are comfortable with. They can take notice of the language that interests them.

Reference: Alan Maley, Extensive Reading: Why it’s good for our students and for us. Read the original article at

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