Abstract: Extensive reading (ER) has been recognized as a promising approach to serve English as a Foreign Language (EFL) learners the opportunities to use the target language regularly and to improve their language proficiency. However, elementary-level EFL learners had to read a huge amount of books to enjoy the benefits from ER and needed a guideline for how much books they should read. Thus, this study aimed to show the guideline to elementary-level EFL learners based on the practice in a longitudinal ER program, where 103 learners had read more than a million total words of easy-to-read English texts in and out of class during their stay in the program. The subjects were Japanese Engineering students aged 15 when they had joined the program after receiving three years of formal English education in junior high school. They took at least a 45-minute weekly ER lesson for 30 weeks in each academic year along with several concurrent traditional English lessons, and stayed in the program for five years (Group A) or seven years (Group B). Their median TOEIC score was 384 or 441 when they had read a million words, and median score increase rate was 124 or 166 points per one million words. With these values, their English proficiency was estimated to reach 600 in TOEIC when they would have read 2.7 or 2.0 million total words of easy-to-read English texts. The score increase rate was three times as high as our former study with pioneer students. Seven years were confirmed to be a feasible duration for an ER program if it hoped to ensure that lower elementary EFL learners in the program improved their English proficiency to intermediate levels.
Keywords: extensive reading, english as a foreign language, long term, total words read, readability, toeic