Unstoppably Spreading the Love of Extensive Reading

I’ve been living in Japan for 37 years. Prior to that I had been teaching English in America for 5 years. I’ve been doing Extensive Reading (ER) for at least 35 years. And I’ve been teaching in my current university for 31 years, in charge of the reading program for probably 35 years. So what my doing is not a new fad.

How I came to this field is sort of strange and unique. In undergraduate days, my major was elementary education and early childhood education and my minor was learning disabilities. Basically I was trained to be a reading specialist.

But then when I got out of the undergraduate, in the mid 1970s teaching jobs were very difficult to find but I got a teaching job in a maximum security prison in Southern Illinois, as a reading teacher.

In this particular prison, they started sending me the Spanish speakers, most of whom were Mexican and Puerto Rican speakers and they were prisoners. They were sent to me because they couldn’t read. Well, of course they could not read because English is not their first language.

So I started out by buying EFL (English for Foreign Learners) and ESL (English as a Second Language) books. I split off one of my reading classes and started to work with these Spanish speakers. And that made me back to graduate school and I really enjoyed that.

Prison was also a very interesting place but I don’t want to spend the rest if my lfe teaching there even it’s my job.

As a young man, I was always longing to travel and teach and be a writer, which is also a priority. In 1982 I moved to Japan, started teaching in a conversation school for several years and eventually got hired by an institution.

Back in the mid 1980s, many American universities opened Japan campuses. So I started teaching at the University of Pittsburgh campus. And I got hired by my own school (Miyagi Gakuin Women’s University, Japan).

He is now enthusiastically helping teachers around the world believe that they can make a difference. That is why teachers become teachers. To open new worlds for students and extensive reading can do that!

(As told by Prof. Marc Helgesen himself)

Books Lee Kuan Yew Loves to Read

Your favorite books reflect who and what you are. As for Lee Kuan Yew – the architect of Singapore – the list of books he loves to enjoy comprises biographies of interesting people.

“I am not attracted to novels — make-believe, or recreations of what people think life should be,”stated the 91-year-old statesman‎.

He is obviously a man of logic, rather than of imagination. That’s why he wouldn’t be entertained by reading fictitious works.

Write and Read, Read and Write

“If you don’t have time to read, you don’t have the time (or the tools) to write. Simple as that.”

I read it somewhere. As inspiring as it seems, I decided to blog about it.

I Read a Zillion Books. So What?

“Books are good enough in their own way, but they are a poor substitute for life.”- Robert Louis Stevenson Once I met a digital entrepreneur. He was a smart young man. Extremely erudite with wealthy parents and strong educational background in business and marketing and so forth. We chatted and sat at a similar desk. Like many other digitally obsessed youths, we said hi in brief, smiled at each other and a moment later we had our eyes glued to our smartphone screens. It wasn’t because we didn’t like each other but we were on Twitter searching for each other’s handle and immediately follow one another on it. Megain Widjaja, this young man, seemed particularly made a great point to ponder when he appeared on stage that day and said,”You entrepreneurs are to read a lot to keep up with the latest knowledge yet please do not stop there. Read and then discuss, so there’ll be more and more brilliant ideas coming out”. He bluntly stated the reading habit alone will not ever get us anywhere. We have got to do something about the knowledge and vicarious experiences learned. I also found his proposition on reading is right. Cannot agree more on this. Reading is one thing and doing is another. I love reading and we all must in fact but avoid being too engrossed with books and forget our real lives. So the best practice would be how to learn more and more from piles of books to enrich our minds and souls and bring all these ideal notions in mind into practice.

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