Theoretical support for extensive reading in the field of L2 research comes from the Krashen's input hypothesis (1982), the notion of which is that receiving comprehensible input enables a learner to acquire the target language and the reading hypothesis (Krashen, 1993) postulating the beneficial effect of extensive reading on various abilities such as reading comprehension, writing, vocabulary and grammar.
Regardless of whether or not one thoroughly agrees with these hypotheses, increasing interest in extensive reading has been observed among researchers and educators involved in L2 instruction. This is evidenced, for example, in the publication of special editions on extensive reading (The Language Teacher 1997, 21. No. 5; 2007, 31. No 5) and collections such as Bamford and Day (2004).
One of the general principles for language pedagogy proposed by Ellis (2005) endorses the importance of massive amounts of input for second language acquisition. Extensive reading was identified as one of the easiest ways of pedagogically implementing the input-rich learning environment.
Furthermore, research has reported beneficial effects of extensive reading on various aspects of L2 ability, for example: reading comprehension and reading speed (Bell, 2001; Tanaka, 2007), vocabulary (Grabe and Stoller, 1997; Pigada and Schmitt, 2006), grammar (Isik, 2000; Furukawa, 2008), reading and writing (Hafiz and Tudor, 1989; Tsang, 1996), a collection of disparate skills (Elley and Mangubhai, 1983), and even motivation (Leo and Krashen, 2000; Asraf and Ahmad, 2003). As a result of a great amount of research conducted, 'there is evidence that extensive reading promotes language level increase within a short period of time' (Schackne, 1986).
Extensive reading, however, can be seen in Polish schools as a method which develops only learner's reading skills or something that supplements the 'real' teaching language, but this may not be right. Waring (2012) believes that: 'extensive reading is the only way in which learners can get access to language at their own comfort level, read something they want to read, at the pace they feel comfortable with, which will allow them to meet the language enough times to pick up a sense of how the language fits together and to consolidate what they know'. Krashen (2004) adds that 'when second language acquirers read for pleasure, they develop the competence to move from the beginning 'ordinary conversational' level to a level where they can use the second language for more demanding purposes'. Therefore, it might be suggested that extensive reading could be the mean the teacher should use to help his/her learners to reach the desired level of second language development.
3.1 Extensive reading and reading development
Reading itself promotes reading
Since it is generally accepted that to become a competent reader one should read as much as possible, extensive reading is possibly the way how to develop learner's reading skills. This is connected with reading strategies that should be offered to learners before, during and after reading. All these strategies are reinforced by extensive reading and exposure to a variety of reading materials, which is typical for extensive reading process, enables learners to use their knowledge of these texts to access the further reading materials with the same or similar structures successfully (Lems, Miller and Soro, 2010) (Nuttall, 2004).
Being able to comprehend the text is the ability that might be supported by extensive reading as well. Extensive reading is based on the assumption that learners should be offered materials that are within their language level and reading such relevant texts helps students to comprehend with fewer problems and thus 'help them build the comprehension habit as they read' (Lems, Miller and Soro, 2010).
Due to the fact that extensive reading is predominantly reading for pleasure, there is a great advantage that contributes to reading development. Positive reading experiences together with providing opportunities to read and access to a variety of easy reading materials enhance learners' reading competence. Dealing with a text successfully strengthens students' willingness to read more and leads to creating enthusiastic and competent readers (Krashen, 2004).
To sum up, extensive reading should be a part of reading development process because 'those who read more begin to enjoy reading more, read faster, understand more and thus go on to further reading and further comprehension' (Hess and Jasper, 1995).
3.2 Extensive reading improves writing
Both reading and writing are core competencies for achieving academic success.
Lems, Miller and Soro, 2010
Reading and writing are definitely related skills as they complement each other in many ways. They both deal with the written language and students need to decode the language and construct the meaning.
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