It is amazing what our students can do if they are given the chance.

Here are some more comments from our SSR/Light Reading time in Spanish I this week. Once again, students are reading completely in Spanish.  No dictionaries. I find it interesting that students begin to figure out some of the best reading strategies on their own.  The idea of Narrow Input seems to be developing naturally in some students. Comprehension and language acquisition increase when a person reads narrowly, because the reader sees the same words used over and over again.  Narrow input (or narrow reading) can mean:

Reading a great deal on one topic (Intensive Reading), or

Reading several works by one author (Extensive Reading).

An example of Intensive Reading was found in this entry by a girl that chooses a ZooBook each time.  she loves animals and reads about them every time she gets a chance: “I read Animals Campeones, even though I didn’t know what it was about at first. The animals in this book are the most dominant animals in the world. They are either the strongest, the fastest, the smartest or the fiercest animals.”  This students figured out the theme of the book and filled in missing vocabulary with her background knowledge, cognates and imagination.

An example that is very close to the definition of Extensive Reading is revealed by this student who always chooses a Dr. Seuss or a P.D. Eastman book in Spanish.  She knows and likes the stories and that familiarity allows her to read above her supposed level and figure out word meanings through context: “I read ¿Eres tú mi mamá? some words I figured out were: eres = are, fue = went, era = was, pajarito = baby bird, gatito = kitten.”

Here is an example that seems to be Intensive and Extensive Reading overlapping: “Today I read about the brain.  Once again I find it interesting that it is almost the same as English.  I could use this if I become a doctor.”    This student reads books from the same series on the human body each time for SSR.  Her choice is interest-driven and she is building familiarity with the topic as she goes.  This seems like an example of both types of reading strategies because she is reading a lot on one topic (the human body) and also many works by one author (all are books from an illustrated children’s series in Spanish written at about the 5th grade level).

I am providing very little: the space, the time, the books, the structure and some of the motivation (Hey, I gotta be here anyway!). But the kids are providing the insight, the interest and the learning.  Amazing!