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Extensive Reading Programme (ERS)
Definition and rationale for extensive reading

For the purposes of this document extensive reading means reading or viewing a large number of print and non-print texts (fiction and non-fiction) with a wide range of topics and formats at the students' reading level and interest. In the SBA, students must read/view at least 4 texts for assessment purposes; however, it is the aim of the SBA programme to encourage much more extensive reading than that. Please refer to the HKEAA's lists of recommended texts for the school-based assessment component for suitable reading/viewing materials for students.

The purposes of such reading and/or viewing are usually to seek pleasure, information, and general understanding. As such, extensive reading/viewing can provide exposure to extensive comprehensible language, which is highly beneficial for language acquisition. It also helps facilitate good reading/viewing habits and motivation for reading. The rationale for establishing an Extensive Reading Scheme can be summarised in Nuttall's (1996) cycle of growth:

For example:

  • the more they read, the more they learn
  • the more they learn, the more they enjoy reading
  • the more they enjoy reading, the faster they read
  • the faster they read, the more they read

The key to the success of this progress is enjoyment, resulting from the provision of interesting texts at the right level so students can read or view easily without much help from teachers or from dictionaries.

To view the documents on extensive reading by the Education and Manpower Bureau.


Dr Vivienne Yu, the Acting Head of the Department of English at The Hong Kong Institute of Education, was in charge of the Extensive Reading Scheme (organised by the Education Manpower Bureau) for Secondary school students in the 1990s. She has also initiated and developed an Extensive Reading Scheme for primary students and has been involved in research investigating the effectiveness and roles of ERS. The clips contain Dr Yu's views on ERS, and its roles at S4 and S5 levels.
To view the definition of ERS
To view the roles of ERS at S4
and S5 levels

Benefits of ERS

A well-organised extensive reading and viewing scheme can provide the following benefits:

  • improve reading and listening comprehension and word recognition ability through revisiting vocabulary and structures in different books and contexts as well as getting extensive exposure to language not usually encountered in textbooks;

  • improve writing ability and other skills, as extensive reading offers the potential for reinforcing, recycling, and recombining language learned in the classroom so new language input can be retained and made available for spoken and written production;

  • facilitate good reading habits and motivation for reading as students learn to read by reading and viewing texts in their areas of interest at the right level.