The Edinburgh Project on Extensive Reading (EPER) Approach
The EPER ladder
Students progress by easy stages from their starting level to unsimplified reading. To this end we have classified all the graded readers published in the UK and some published in Europe and USA, into 8 levels of difficulty (G, F, E, D, C, B, A and X), of which G is elementary and X is advanced. We determine students’ starting level by giving them a Placement Test. The scores on this graduated cloze test are correlated with the 8 EPER levels.
This chart relates EPER levels to major EFL exams (from Hill, 1997 p. 25).
to L1 Books
|D||1200||Low Intermediate||400||300||Ages 10-12|
|B||1900||High Intermediate||FCE||480||530||Ages 13-15|
The Twin Approach
We advocate a combination of library reading and class reading. The one supports the other. Library reading ensures sufficient quantity of reading. Each class is provided with its own library of graded readers from which students choose books to read in their own time. Class reading ensures quality of reading. Each student has a copy of the same title. Students read out of class, with the teacher guiding, explaining difficulties, checking comprehension, encouraging appreciation and exploiting the text in class. EPER is a non-profit-
Amount of reading expected
Programmes differ from place to place but in a typical programme each student will complete 10 library readers and 2 class readers at each level. Students in a secondary school will move up 2-3 levels in an academic year. Students on an intensive course will make a similar advance in 3 months.
Carrots and Sticks
Students are often reluctant to read. They can be encouraged by a combination of good stories, texts that match their proficiency, interesting follow-up activities, teacher feedback and their own success. For many, perhaps most, students encouragement is not enough. They need also the compulsion that arises when the reading programme is included in the syllabus, in timetable and assessment scheme.
The success of a programme can be measured by establishing a correlation between the number of books read and the improvement in scores on the EPER Progress Test. EPER Support An EPER-style programme requires a lot of time and effort on the part of teachers. However, the rewards can be great and EPER can help with all aspects of planning, implementation and evaluation.