“Extensive Reading” or “ER” for short, is an approach to language learning that encourages students to read a large amount of books, or other reading material, that is relatively easy for them to understand. Ideally, the books should be easier that their current reading level so that they can read quickly, without having to look up words in a dictionary.
Extensive Reading often makes use of “graded readers” — books that have been specially prepared with controlled vocabulary and grammar to make them accessible to the learner.
Ideally, students should choose their own reading material, with the hope that they might forget that they are ‘studying’ if the material engages their imagination.
In “extensive reading”, complete comprehension of the texts is not as important as reading a large volume of material. It is through repeated exposure to the vocabulary and syntax of the target language that the learner can eventually internalize how the words of the language are actually used — how they collocate with the words around them.
This site offers a wealth of material to help those new to ER to get started. Enjoy!
For further information on the nature of ER see:
Waring, R., & McLean, S. (2014). Defining Extensive Reading. http://www.robwaring.org/presentations/defining_ER/Defining_ER_JALT_2014.pptx
The Extensive Reading Guides provide basic information in a number of languages.