Cristina Tat


Using creative writing to develop extensive reading skills

Sat, Aug 22, 17:00-17:30 JST

This presentation will describe an elective course that has been introduced with the aim of encouraging university students to read for pleasure and to become more actively engaged with texts by developing their writing skills. The required English courses in this EAP program focus mostly on intensive reading and academic writing, and students` reading progress is actively tracked through MReader and Xreading, online platforms that track reading speed, total words read, and check comprehension through quizzes. Moreover, due to the grammar translation method which is widely utilized in Japanese schools to teach reading in L2, most students tend to engage in sentence level translation rather than the process of extensive reading. This kind of academic background coupled with the fact that most of the students in the program are not language majors, has led students to view reading and writing as the necessary "obstacles" they have to overcome in order to pass. Students participating in this elective course (n=85) were surveyed twice, at the beginning and at the end of the semester. According to the survey responses at the beginning of the semester, very few of them read in L1 or L2 in their spare time. Furthermore, only 25% of the students surveyed responded that they enjoyed reading in L2 and only 15% felt that they were able to express their opinions in the academic writing courses. It was the instructor’s hypothesis that through experiencing the process of creative writing, students could develop audience awareness from instructor and peer feedback, and also that they could use short works of fiction, such as the graded readers (books written specifically for learners of another language) used in this course, to develop their writing skills. It was the instructor`s hope that students would become more critical readers by learning to be better writers. Although the end of semester survey results seemed to indicate that most students were now more likely to enjoy reading in general and to continue doing so outside of this course, doing so in L2 seemed to be mostly true for students who were reading regular works of fiction (such as those written for native speakers) or graded readers above Level 3. The basic outline of the course as well as students` responses to surveys about their reading habits at the beginning and end of the course will be described in the hope of generating discussion and sharing ideas for further course development.