Intensive & Extensive Reading of English Text
‘Some books are to be tasted, others to be swallowed, and some few to be chewed and digested’—this famous dictum of French Bacon can still give us valuable guidance about the kinds of reading habits to be developed in our students.
The dictum implies that the students should have practice in two kinds of reading:
a) Intensive Reading
b) Extensive Reading
In intensive reading, the students read not only for detailed comprehension of meaning but also for mastering the structures and vocabulary.
As has already been noted, a non-native speaker can hope to surpass even the native speaker in the use of the written language. This he can achieve through intensive reading.
In this kind of reading, the learner can practice the language in his spare time even without a teacher. Therefore, intensive reading is still regarded as a very potent means of learning a language.
Indeed some experts regard intensive reading as the only practicable means of learning a foreign language like English. But the general consensus is that at the initial stages, reading should be primarily confined to the identification of words and sentences spoken in the oral lessons.
Once the students have acquired sufficient speed in reading such familiar matter, they would be able take in new words and sentences in their stride.
In extensive reading, students read for information or simply for the pleasure of reading. In this kind of reading, the primary object is general comprehension; not language study.
Since the aim here is to read rapidly, the ability to locate the ‘topic sentence’ of a paragraph and to comprehend its general meaning by skimming will be useful.
This enables the learner to ignore certain paragraphs or passages and concentration the ones he is interested in. the ability to guess the approximate meaning of new rapid notes of relevant information for future use is also a necessary component of this useful skill of extensive reading.
Some people think that reading can`t be taught but only learnt, but all of us will agree that the teacher’s job is to tell students many different ways to attacking a text. A noteable linguistic ‘Brume Fit’ states his ideas that there are two approaches of reading:
1. Reading for accuracy (Intensive)
2. Reading for fluency (extensive)
Both these approaches obviously need different classroom procedures. Intensive reading needs close guidance of teacher. The aim of intensive reading is to arrive at a profound and detailed understanding of the text.
The extensive reading is mostly done out of class. The class time is too short to achieve fluency; one has to read a great deal which can be only done in the spare time.
People read in different ways using different strategies and skills. But, when a reader is a foreign language learner then he needs slow, careful and laborious reading strategies in order to extract the maximum information from it.
Therefore, let us once again revise what intensive and extensive reading are:
1. Intensive reading: this kind of reading aims at reading shorter texts, which needs accuracy for detail.
2. Extensive reading: This kind of reading emphasizes less on gaining accuracy and more on gaining fluency, since extensive reading is usually done outside the classroom, and for the readers own pleasure, and extensive reader is at liberty to:
Pick up a book of his own interest, read the book at his own pace, whenever he feels and gain as much exposure as he wants in a language.