Korean EFL teachers’ perspectives about their participation in an extensive reading program
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The purpose of this research was to explore the overall perceptions of EFL teachers toward the extensive reading approach as they experienced the approach first hand. More particularly, EFL teachers’ perspectives on the applicability issues of extensive reading for secondary level curriculum in Korea were captured. Also, their personal experience with the approach, including the effect of extensive reading on their foreign language anxiety, was investigated. A total of fourteen teachers in a professional development program participated in the study. They were situated in a print-affluent classroom replete with approximately 1000 books including graded readers, young adult books, some magazines, best sellers and steady seller books. In the reading program, the teachers experienced sustained silent reading, and participated in classroom discussion and activities related to extensive reading. Also, these teachers were strongly encouraged to do outside reading. Data were collected from multiple sources to enhance the credibility of the study, that is, classroom observation including field notes and audio recordings, learner diaries, and interviews. Three surveys were also administered -- the Foreign Language Reading Anxiety Scale, The Teacher Foreign Language Anxiety Scale, and the Affective Questionnaire to Extensive Reading. The findings from the study showed that although the teachers were somewhat resistant to the idea of reading English-language books extensively prior to their participation, they became proponents of the approach once they had the experience of pleasure reading. They also expressed a fondness for graded readers and literature for young adults because of the simplified language and appealing themes that characterize such reading materials, and were willing to introduce them to students in secondary schools. Teachers also recognized the linguistic benefits of extensive reading including vocabulary expansion, positive reading attitude, and a sense of accomplishment from reading extensively. In terms of the applicability issue, however, the participating teachers recommended introducing the approach gradually rather than implementing it immediately, mainly because of the test-emphasized classroom culture of the secondary level curriculum in Korea. In a similar vein, teachers also addressed problematic factors that would be considered an obstacle to bringing the approach to the secondary curriculum. Those obstacles were problems related to curriculum and evaluation, motivating reluctant and struggling students, and teachers’ conflicted role in the extensive reading class. Therefore, as mentioned earlier, they proposed a gradual approach and the use of extra-curricular activities was mentioned as a possible first step to take. Regarding the effect of extensive reading on foreign language anxiety, the data from the scale and from interviews indicated that participating teachers were not highly anxious even prior to the program.