VIDEO: Extensive Reading Program Design

This is a short lecture given as part of a Sendai JALT meeting (the Extensive Reading Colloquium) in January 2014. It was held at the Tohoku University Library.

Here is the ER Program Design handout that accompanies this talk.

Five local teachers also talked about their ER programs according to a common template. They answered the questions below:

  • Where is ER placed in your curriculum?
  • What is the disposition of faculty/administration towards ER?
  • How many students/classes are doing ER?
  • What are the goals of the program? Who sets them? How are they evaluated/revised?
  • How do you measure student achievement? Is there any follow up after a student completes the program?
  • What system do you have set up to order and manage books? How many books do you have at what levels?
  • What is the future of ER at your institution?

Cory Koby

Daniel Eichhorst

Dominic Jones

John Wiltshier

Marc Helgesen

I’m afraid my video camera died during the panel session so I don’t have a video of that. I would also like to apologize to Dom -you’re just too tall, mate 😉

Thanks to everyone that presented and attended, and especially to Sendai JALT for organizing the meeting: I think we all learned a lot.

JALT Sendai Extensive Reading event at Tohoku University Library (January 26 14:00-17:00)

An Exploration of Extensive Reading Programs

reading a book

These weekend JALT Sendai will hold an extensive reading event at the Tohoku University Library (Kawauchi Campus in Sendai). I’ll be giving a short lecture on extensive reading program design, which will be followed by short talks by local teachers about their extensive reading programs. We will finish off the day with a panel discussion and audience questions.

14-15 ER Program Design (Ben Shearon)
15-16 Introduction to ER Programs (various presenters)
16-17 Panel discussion / Q&A session
17~   Optional tour

More details: JALT Sendai website.

It is shaping up to be a really interesting, practical event. Hope to see you there!

Review: Oxford Junior Workbooks

An oldie but goodie

oxford junior workbook

The Oxford Junior Workbook series is a great homework resource for elementary school age children. There are ten workbooks in the series, from the introductory A and B, to the 1-8 of the main series. We have been using these for many years now, and find them extremely useful as supplementary homework for children (post-phonics, pre-intermediate).

The Good

  • Price. The books are 735 yen before discounts, so one of the most economical workbooks around.
  • Intuitive. Most of the exercises are fairly intuitive and require little explanation. Perfect for homework.
  • Well designed. The books build up language and concepts slowly in a very learner-friendly way.
  • Range of activities. There are a range of activities, from colouring to matching, writing, and drawing.

The Bad

  • Dated. The books are showing their age in terms of design.
  • Dated. Some of the language and content is archaic (ink blot?).
  • Dated. Slightly sexist and non-PC at times.


Overall the Oxford Junior Workbook series is a great way to provide extra work outside of class that student enjoy and find useful. They can be used in lockstep by assigning specific pages as homework, or individually by allowing students to work at their own pace. The books are cheap enough that buying one or two each year shouldn’t break the bank.

Very much recommended.

14 Jan 2014, 6:27pm
Admin blogging




I dont always get sick

I had a fearsome stomach ‘flu type bug this weekend. Back on Friday.

10 Jan 2014, 8:31am
blogging reviews


New Posting Schedule for

New Year, New Plans


Along with the new Reviews Page, I have decided to be more deliberate about reviewing materials and organizing the reviews into a useful resource.

From next week the blog will alternate between news and opinion pieces on Tuesdays and reviews on Fridays. Once I run out of things to review we’ll change things up again, but I don’t see that happening any time soon 😉

I hope you find the changes useful!

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