In Korea, the importance of having strong command of the English language is emphasized to the extreme. Unfortunately, not many students consider themselves competent in English language, despite the long years of English studying they have gone through. Perhaps it is about time we stop asking ourselves che question 'why?' to the low proficiency level of English language, and start asking ourselves 'then what?' for the development of our English competency.
Students in Korea including all students at CNU seem co be quite competent in 'intensive reading', intensive reading refers to careful reading of short and difficult texts with the goal of complete and detailed understanding. This is a very important skill for improving academic English. However, when it comes to English proficiency in general, extensive reading is the solution. Extensive reading refers to reading large quantities of easy and interesting reading materials for pleasure and for general understanding.
There have been numerous researches on the benefits of extensive reading. Among many, some things that the students of CNU may be interested in are: Vocabulary development; Build-up of awareness in grammatical structure; Improvement in all four skills of reading, writing, listening, and speaking; and Providing practices for slow readers to enhance their reading speed.
In order to successfully gain the benefits mentioned above, the following factors should be considered. The first and most important factor is selecting reading materials that are in the level of the reader. Easy reading materials that are in the right level of the reader. Easy reading materials are okay, but if the reading materials are too challenging, the reader will be compelled to use a dictionary, which will result in mitigation of the motivation to read. Using a dictionary in extensive reading is not recommended since it interrupts the flow and makes the purpose of reading rather academic than pleasurable. To find out whether the reading material is too difficult or not, first, open any page with full context. Read the page from top to bottom. Check to see how many unfamiliar words are there. if there are more than unfamiliar words in a page, the book is rather too difficult to enjoy.
Another important factor is selecting reading materials that interest the reader. Finding interesting reading materials will automatically lead to long-team memory retention and less time will be spent in finishing the book. A good way to select interesting reading materials in appropriate level would be to select a book with storyline you already know and enjoyed. This can be a book which has already been seen as a movie or read in the Korean language. The reader will then have easier time visualizing the scenes of the storyline, being able to infer the meaning of unfamiliar words and sentences. Another way to select interesting reading material is to find short readings such as interesting magazines, short stones, or readings in series. These types of readings will enable the readers to atay focused while maintaining the interest level of the reading.
The best way to improve one's knowledge of a foreign language is to go and live among its speakers, and the next best way is to read extensively in the target language, Obviously, for students of CNU and others who are learning English in Korea, reading extensively would be the best option currently available. The students of CNU find pleasure of reading and become competent users of the English language for brighter tomorrow.
BY Charles Ko
Lecutrer of English Education
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