The past five years have seen significant increases in awarness of, and appreciation for, Extensive Reading (ER). Extensive Reading involves the students reading accessible, easy materials to build fluency and automaticity of language recall. This means students read a lot of texts (often graded readers) quickly to build reading speed. This allows students to read better because they read for meaning rather than to decode text, thus when students read faster they remember more and enjoy what they are reading more.
NDSU has made massive strides in the past few years to build up its graded reader library and resources centres and how all first and second year students in the university are required to read several books each year. The University library now has thousands of books for language learners (language learner literature) as well as many books for younger teens.
Each year students report they enjoy this reading (even if they find it hard to find time in their busy lives), but not all students prefer to read. Many prefer to listen, so NDSU has hundreds of CDs and audio recordings for students to listen to. In the future my hope is that more books will become available at NDSU and that we can continue to research the reading habits so we can better understand our students and their needs.
These developments in Extensive Reading are being mirrored all over Japan with many schools and universities opening Extensive Reading programs. But overseas we are seeing immense initial interest in reading extensively. My recent workshops in Taiwan, Korea, Thailand, Vietnam and Indonesia all have demonstrated interest in ER and many schools are starting to open their first ER programs. Over time and as interest grows, and the word gets out, I expect most private institutions in North and East Asia will have ER programs within the next ten years. As always, the public programs are harder to develop dues to administrative red tape, curriculum barriers and the lack of state funding. But it is my hope that these too will join the ER bandwagon.