Helping Students Achieve
Often, ESL teachers do not have adequate time to complete intensive learning activities effectively, such as having all of their English language students read a complete novel as one of the required ESL reading activities. However, encouraging and motivating ESL students to read full-length works of fiction can enhance and expand reading comprehension, vocabulary skills, thematic discussions and fluency beyond the basic goals of English as a second language curriculum.
In an article titled, “Selecting a Passage for the EFL Reading Class", written for The English Teaching Forum for the US Department of State (link provided below), Richard R. Day, a professor of ESL and SLA at the University of Hawaii, describes in depth ten important characteristics to consider when choosing a reading text. Using these criteria enables educators to pull together reading lists that will appeal to all their students.
Note that in order to avoid the frustrations that can occur when students are presented with material that may prove to be too challenging, the skill levels of the students need to be factored into the selection of appropriate works of fiction for ESL learners. For example, many of the classics of the 19th century are amazing learning tools for teaching the English language and culture, but often prove to be overwhelming even for native speakers of English due to the archaic language used in the writing. Most ESL students will need to have mastered the basics of the English language before tackling advanced literary works of literature.