AusELT/English Australia Journal Article Discussion – October 2016. “Fluency Development through Extensive Reading”.


Image from

Access the article here.

Access the transcripts of the discussion here.

(or search “fluency development” on the AusELT Facebook page)

Overview of the article

Paul Brigg and Alice Chik are reporting on a case study research project involving two English language learners, using two forms of extensive reading – 1) reading for language growth, and 2) reading for fluency development. While both forms of extensive reading are useful for second language literacy development, the authors argue that reading for fluency development is often overlooked in second language programs.

The primary purpose of reading is the competent construction of meaning from text, and fluency is a precondition for this. The development of fluency progresses from decoding words to extracting meaning and then on to the smooth and meaningful understanding of texts. Many international students read more slowly and with less confidence in English than in their first language. This is likely to restrict their ability to manage required academic reading and leads to a belief that they can gain more information and knowledge through their first language. (page 51)

In the literature review section, the authors report on exisiting research into the areas of extensive reading and fluency, shared book reading and read-alouds, and modifying books for fluency development. They then go on to outline the research design.

This project used case-study to investigate the possible fluency differences between participants undertaking two forms of ER in separate five-week courses, one participant reading for language growth (Ken), and the other for fluency development (Lin). After the completion of the courses, think-aloud interviews were used to investigate the mental processes of the participants as they read an extract based on their respective forms of ER. The interviews were conducted in a meeting room at their college, and the participants made their own recordings using their mobile phones – this facilitated follow-up discussions. (page 56)

The student participants were a 39 year old Vietnamese man who had recently arrived in Australia to study English, and a 25 year old Chinese woman who was also new to Australia. Both were keen readers in their native language. The findings of the research are presented in four sections:

  1. oral fluency levels (which is related to reading fluency)
  2. the think-aloud matrix (reporting on what strategies the students were using while reading)
  3. procedural development, (Which measures the length of the think-aloud utterances – an indication of fluency development), and
  4. error count comparison (which give an indication of reading difficulties).

Perhaps the significance of the findings is best summed up in the concluding remarks from the authors.

The present study has found significant evidence of fluency development from ER simplified to a 99–100% lexical coverage. Therefore, an enjoyable and relaxing period of easily understood ER will likely project most EAP students towards accomplishing fluency growth in English.

“Simplified to 99-100% lexical coverage” refers to modifications to the book so that readers can understand 99-100% of the words and phrases.

I hope this brief summary will encourage you to read the article and consider how it may inform your own teaching practices with respect to reading. Indeed, this will be the first question that we’ll discuss next week (w/c 17/10/16).

Question for discussion:

How might the findings reported on pages 60-65 lead to changes in how you approach the teaching of reading in your context(s)?

Article Discussion Group: Vote now for an article to discuss during w/c 17/10/16




Image courtesy of

The poll is closed. The article for discussion is Paul Brigg and Alice Chik’s “Fluency development through extensive reading: two case studies”. An introduction to the article will be posted tomorrow morning (Tuesday October 11).



Welcome to the voting page of the third Article Discussion Group. The idea is for us all to vote for our preferred article from the latest English Australia Journal, read it, and then join in a moderated discussion of the article. Authors will either join in on the discussion, or respond offline to points raised and questions asked, facilitated by the moderator. The discussion will take place on the #AusELT Facebook page and is scheduled as such: October 10-16 is reading time; October 17-23 is discussion time.

The articles are all relevant to many of the contexts in which AusELT folk practice. They are primary research articles, that is, the authors have devised and conducted their own research study and reported their findings. In addition, each article has been peer-reviewed, meaning that the editor has invited leading TESOL scholars to review and offer suggestions for improving earlier drafts. We have some excellent reviewers who, together with the authors, have ensured you receive the best quality research reports upon which you can make some decisions about your own teaching.

In order to assist those who are new to reading research articles, the moderator will orient you by providing a summary of the research design and the overall purpose of the research. The discussion will not only focus on how the article can inform your own teaching, but also on opportunities for further research in any form. It will hopefully spark ideas for improving the quality of life in many classrooms! Each article has an abstract for you to read; after all, just as you can’t judge a book by its cover, you can’t judge a research article by its title. The complete articles are all open access, freely available online here (article 32.1 – available Friday Oct. 7) and can also be downloaded in pdf here. The chosen article will be made available as a pdf and available for download on this page.

Teacher motivational strategy practice and student motivation in tertiary ESL

Owen Wilson: King Fahd University of Petroleum and Minerals, Dhahran, Saudi Arabia

Aek Phakiti: University of Sydney

This article reports on an empirical investigation of the process-oriented/ socio-dynamic phase of second language learning motivation theory. One hundred and sixty three students from 11 tertiary English as a second language classrooms took part in the study. They were taught by 11 different teachers at a Foundation Studies Program in Sydney, Australia, which prepares these students to enter an undergraduate program. The research instruments include an adapted version of Guilloteaux and Dörnyei’s (2008) motivation orientation of language teaching (MOLT) classroom observation scheme and post-lesson teacher evaluation system (PLTES), and Papi and Abdollahzadeh’s (2012) students’ motivated state (SMS) questionnaire (slightly modified to fit the context of the current study). It was found that teachers’ motivational strategy practice was positively related to students’ motivated behaviour, although the relationship was not as strong as those found in previous research of middle or high school English as a foreign language contexts. The implications and recommendations for future research are discussed.

Ability grouping and scaffolded learning with large classes: Vietnamese students’ attitudes to learning approaches

Michael Carey: University of the Sunshine Coast

Tuan Do: University of Danang, Vietnam

In Asian college programs with large class sizes, the common practice of heterogeneous grouping of students may hinder EFL teaching. In this context, students with different levels of English language proficiency achieve their learning goals in various ways, so require differentiated input. The question of how diverse learners respond to differentiated learning and teaching methods in large Asian classes is under- researched. We report on an experiment in which ability grouping was combined with scaffolded learning (two experimental and independent variables) to teach a large EFL class. The dependent variables we evaluated were the students’ attitudes (emotional, behavioural and cognitive) towards the experimental teaching technique, with data collected through observation and a questionnaire. Quantitative and qualitative analysis suggests that the students’ attitudes towards the teaching technique were positive. Although this was a relatively small- scale experiment (N=52), it provides evidence that a combination of ability grouping and scaffolded learning can be a beneficial teaching technique for large EFL classes.

Fluency development through extensive reading: Two case studies

Paul Brigg and Alice Chik: Macquarie University

This paper compares the development of fluency from two forms of Extensive Reading (ER) in case studies of learners who had just completed five-week ER courses. These involved 1 hour per week of shared-book reading and 3.5 hours weekly of individual sustained silent reading (SSR). The two participants were preparing for university entry at an English Language Centre (ELC) and both were enthusiastic leisure readers in their first language. In the ER courses, one read intermediate-level graded readers for language growth, with the other read simplified-intermediate books for fluency development. At the conclusion of their courses, the participants undertook think- aloud interviews while reading a graded reader excerpt at their respective levels. Their transcripts were then evaluated using semantic assessment, procedural development measurements and error counts. It was established that the participant reading for fluency development experienced significant growth in that area. This suggests that fluency training should be included in university language preparation courses.

So, without any more fanfare, please cast your vote! Closes Monday October 10, 2016 at 5 pm DST

Your moderator, Phil Chappell (@TESOLatMQ, Executive Editor of the English Australia Journal)

#AusELT Twitter chat – Conference/PD Swap Shop – Sunday 2nd October 2016

Many #AusELTers old and new attended the recent English Australia Conference. And we know some of you have been to other conferences this year. At this time of year #AusELT hosts a chat on Twitter where we swap experiences, reflections, resources, links, etc. from PD we’ve done the year.

This will be the topic of our next #AusELT Twitter chat, on Sunday 2nd October 2016 at 8:30 pm AEST (Sydney time) check the time in your location

photo of  Anne Burns at UECA PD Fest Sydney 2016

Anne Burns at UECA PD Fest Sydney 2016 (@cioccas)

Did you attend a conference this year, or other major PD event? Please join us and share your experience and learning with colleagues from around Australia. Share what you saw, what you loved, what you found interesting or controversial.

If you haven’t been lucky enough to get to any events this year, come along and get a taste of what was on offer from those who did. A good opportunity to ask questions and/or share new/interesting ideas that have come your way lately from sources other than conferences.

To get an idea of how much can be achieved in an hour on Twitter, check out this summary post from our 2014 Conference Swapshop. (Sorry, we don’t seem to have done a summary for the 2015 version.)

Looking forward to e-seeing you all then!

NB: New members/New to Twitter? Please see the Twitter page on the blog for help and ‘how-to’. Come along and try it out!

This post by @cioccas

Conferences & Presenting (AusELT Twitter chat, Sept 3-4, 2016)

CC0 Public Domain Free for commercial use No attribution required

Note: This chat has now taken place. You can read the summary here. Great tips for conference attendees and presenters, some persuasion for would-be presenters, and definitely some big love for networking!

September’s #AusELT chat is coming up! This time we’ll be talking about conferences and presenting including:

  • why attend a conference anyway
  • how to get the most out of the experience
  • why presenting could be good for you and how to get started
  • dos and don’ts for presenters

We’ll also be using the ‘slowburn’ format for the first time this year. For us, this means the chat will be spread over the whole weekend instead of just 1 hour on Sunday night🙂

We’ll start early on Sat 3rd September, and run right through till late on Sunday 4th September. You can contribute, read and discuss tweets on this theme at any time in that period, so feel free to drop in and out a few times over the weekend! Just remember to add the #AusELT hashtag to your tweets so we can all see them.

If it is your first time using Twitter, slowburns are a nice and gentle way in to connecting with others. You might also be interested in these posts:

Need help with Twitter?

#AusELT 1-page guide to Twitter

So you have a Twitter account – now what? 

Looking forward to e-seeing you this weekend!

This post by @sophiakhan4

Reflective Practice: Benefits, Tips, Feedback (#AusELT Twitter chat on 7/8/2016)


Dear AusELTers

Our August Twitter chat is happening on Sunday 7th Aug at 8.30pm Sydney time (click here to see the time where you are).

The winning topic, voted for by the #AusELT community, was reflective practice.


This topic was suggested after there was a lot on interest in a post on the #AusELT Facebook page recently about using teacher post-lesson reflections effectively. As this is a familiar concept to most of us from pre-service training and in-service observations, perhaps we can use this as as a jumping off point. Some questions we could consider here are:

  • Is this useful? Why?
  • Could we do it better? How?
  • Is RP really a skill that can be developed?
  • How can practising teachers, trainers and managers also benefit from RP?
  • What are some problems or obstacles to effective RP?
  • What are some useful ways to ‘operationalise’ it for individuals or institutions?

Looking forward to discussing these questions or any others you care to bring with you on Sunday.

If you are new to Twitter, please come along, we are a friendly bunch  (send a tweet to me @sophiakhan4 and I’ll look out for you!)

You might also be interested in these posts:

Need help with Twitter?

#AusELT 1-page guide to Twitter

So you have a Twitter account – now what? 

E-see you on Sunday!

This post by @sophiakhan4

What would you like to talk about on Aug 7th?

Dear AusELTers

We’re getting ready for our monthly Twitter chat, which is happening this Sunday 7th Aug at 8.30pm Sydney time (click here to see the time where you are).

To vote for a topic, pick your favourite from the poll below. Topics were proposed by group members and/or near misses in previous votes. The result will be announced on the #AusELT Facebook page and on Twitter and whatever they may be I look forward to hanging out with you lovely people for a chat!

If you are not sure about Twitter and need a hand to get started, do message me on Facebook or Twitter (@sophiakhan4) or by leaving a comment below.

You might also be interested in these posts:

Need help with Twitter?

#AusELT 1-page guide to Twitter

So you have a Twitter account – now what? 


Lessons to go: Passive Quiz

Cavendish Banana

Cavendish Banana


The passive is a difficult structure for English language learners to understand and more so to put into use. One misunderstanding they have is in regards to who or what is doing or instigating the action in question. As Parrot (2010, p. 336) points out, learners can confuse the subject for the agent in a passive sentence e.g. “A man was attacked by three women.” Another issue is that they have trouble selecting appropriate verbs with which to construct the this pattern. For instance, as Carter, McCarthy, Mark, and O’Keeffe (2011, p. 367) explain, we cannot form the passive voice with intransitive verbs. The reason this is, Swan (2005, p. 386) says, is because “there is nothing to become the subject.” Swan also points out that there are also some transitive verbs not used in the passive, most of which are state verbs. Even once an understanding of the passive has been reached, learners still have trouble using it. Parrot (2010, p. 337) observes that many learners, even those with a good grasp of the passive, avoid using it all together. Conversely, one of the main problems I have witnessed after instructing students is that they over-use it, using it in sentences and expressions that are not typically expressed in the passive. With this in mind, the aim of this lesson is to present the present and past simple forms of the passive to students and give them a controlled opportunity to use it so that they can produce appropriate sentences.

Level: Pre-intermediate as first presentation of passive, intermediate and above as a review

Materials: Students’ notebooks and smart phones

Lesson Plan:

Begin the lesson by bringing attention to a sentence you have already written on the board:

Bananas are grown in Queensland.

Ask the students, ‘What is grown in Queensland?’ (Bananas) Then ask them, ‘Who grows the bananas?’ (Farmers) These questions could be answered and problem-solved in pairs/groups or as a whole class. Now ask, ‘How can we write a similar sentence but using farmers?’ Try to elicit from the whole class and write the following sentence below the first one:

Farmers grow bananas in Queensland.

Ask the class, ‘Why are farmers not written in the first sentence?’ (The main focus is bananas; it’s obvious who grows them.) Now bring attention to the form of the second sentence. Elicit the tense from the students: present simple. Underline the verb: grow. Then bring attention to the passive sentence and elicit what auxiliary verb is used: be. And what form the other verb is: past participle. Underline and label these verbs. (It is probably better to model the passive using irregular verbs because the past participle can easily be distinguished from the past simple verb.) You can now explain that the first sentence is a passive sentence and the second sentence is an active sentence because the subject (the agent) does the action.

Now give the students a chance to use this form. Explain to the class that you are going to have a quiz, explaining what a quiz is if the students do not already know. Divide the students into teams of 2-3 and ask them to create a team name and write them down the side of the board. Then bring their attention to the quiz question (sentence) you have written on the board:

Coffee is grown in Russia/Colombia/Canada.

Ask the class, ‘What is the correct answer?’ (Colombia) Write the following verbs on the board: grow, produce, sell. Task the students to write three present simple passive sentences using verbs from the board, providing three possible options at the end of the sentences. Explain that they can search for information on the internet using their smart phones. Elicit things the students can write about e.g. foods, electronic devices, cars etc. Monitor the students to make sure they are doing the task correctly but do not correct them as this will be part of the quiz. Once they have all completed their three sentences bring their attention to another sentence on the board:

The Mona Lisa was painted by Michaelangelo/Picasso/Di Vinci.

Ask them if they all know what the Mona Lisa is and what it is a painting of. Show them a picture on a phone if they do not. Then ask the class, ‘Who painted the Mona Lisa?’ Followed by the question, ‘Is this an active or passive sentence?’ (Passive) Elicit the position of the agent in a passive sentence and highlight the preposition needed before the agent (by). Now ask the students, ‘What is the tense of the sentence?’ (Past simple passive) Highlight the past form of the verb to be and the past participle. Then bring their attention to another list of verbs on the board: paint, invent, create, write. Instruct each team to write another three sentences in the past simple passive using the verbs on the board. Elicit things the students can write about e.g. paintings, inventions, books etc. Monitor and assist without directly correcting the sentences.

Once the students have completed their six sentences you can then start the quiz. Tell them they will receive one point for every correct answer they guess and one point for every correct sentence they write. The first team will read their first sentence and the three possible options. Give the other students about 30 seconds to decide on the answer. Collect answers from around the class. Now have the first team read out the original answer and give a point to any of the teams who had the correct answer. Then ask the class if the grammar of the sentence was correct. If the essential features of the passive were present, give the team a point on the board. Then move to the first question of the second team and repeat the steps. After all the questions have been read and answered, tally the scores and announce the winner. If you are running out of time, you can simply have three or four rounds of questions instead of six.


This has proven to be an effective lesson by which to both teach and practise the passive. It also works at higher levels as a review. Its effectiveness hinges on the novelty and competitiveness of practising grammar through a quiz and also because of the verbs that have been given to the students. The latter point is extremely important with lower levels since it helps prevent students from writing passive sentences which do not resemble native language. Furthermore, the verbs provide direction in content, since the students will probably know some common collocations of the verbs i.e. paint a picture, grow fruits and vegetables.


Carter, R., McCarthy, M., Mark, G., & O’Keeffe, A. (2011). English Grammar Today. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Parrott, M. (2010). Grammar for English Language Teachers. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Swan, M. (2005). Practical English Usage. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

This post by Peter Guylay. 

Peter has been working as an English language teacher for over ten years and has taught in Korea, China and his home country of Australia. He has an interest in Critical ELT and has also written for the English Australia Journal.