Towards an Effective Extensive Reading Programme for Malaysian Schools

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Noreha Taib
Ramesh Nair
Yoges Gopalan
Daljeet Singh Sedhu


Becoming proficient in a second or foreign language requires a great deal of appropriate target language input. However, for many learners of English in Malaysian secondary schools, exposure to the language is unfortunately confined to just the school environment, and this makes teaching English become an even greater challenge for teachers. Given the limited time during lessons for language input, the solution appears to lie beyond the confines of the English language lesson. One way of providing greater language input is through extensive reading programmes which provide language learners with much needed language input. This paper focuses on the viability of a stand-alone extensive reading programme for supporting learners of English. The discussion is anchored to conversations with Malaysian English language teachers who share their thoughts and experiences related to the long-running NILAM and NILAM 2.0 reading programmes. Findings are presented under three main themes which emerged from interviews with English language teachers, namely the themes of understanding and appreciation, teacher resistance and external support. The teachers appeared to view the NILAM reading programmes as an additional task that they were forced to manage with little external support. Although the creation of awards was well-intended, it took away from the aim of encouraging students to read for the sake of enjoyment. Despite apparent pessimism about the NILAM programmes, teachers were unanimous in their belief that a good extensive reading programme can indeed support learners with building their vocabulary range and enhancing their general proficiency in English.

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