The Internet TESL Journal

Three Extensive Reading Activities for ESL/EFL Students Using E-books

Mei-Ya Liang
my_liang [at]


This online extensive reading lesson focuses on intermediate and advanced ESL/EFL students. The objectives of this lesson are to guide students to read authentic e-texts outside of the classroom and to improve their overall reading, writing and thinking skills by synthesizing and evaluating online materials with peers. This lesson aims at EFL high school or college students, but can also be modified and used in both native English and ESL/EFL reading courses for younger students.

The Lesson

Three activities are designed to help students choose books that meet their interests and reading levels, read and share books both on their own and in a group, and think critically with online texts, tools and resources. Students are provided 10 e-books of different lengths and varying difficulty and study guides as scaffolding for learning. Students are also encouraged to use electronic resources.

1. Choosing Books


This activity gives students the opportunity of selecting books that are interesting and appropriate for them to read.


Study Guide

The following questions help students skim through these e-books.
  1. What is the title of this story?
  2. What type of story is it?
  3. Who is the main character in this story?
  4. Is it suitable for me, too easy or too difficult?
  5. Is this book interesting to me?

2. Reading and Sharing Books


This activity leads students not only to read e-texts at their own pace, but to share their text with other students with different abilities and interpretations. Learners can monitor, revise and evaluate their work during the learning process.


Study Guide

Here are two websites.
The following questions about the main ideas in a book help students read the text and then comprehend and organize their smmaries individually.
  1. Who is in the story?
  2. Where does the story take place?
  3. When does it happen?
  4. What is it about?
  5. How does it turn out?
The following questions ask for more details from the book, and might help students elaborate their thoughts and share their stories with their partners collaboratively.
  1. What are the main characters like?
  2. How does the setting affect the characters?
  3. What are the unexpected developments or problems in the story?
  4. How did the author create the mood (the overall impression)?
  5. What is the lesson of the story?

3. Evaluating Books


This activity leads students to higher-order thinking. Students have to apply, synthesize and evaluate information from the online texts and resources, as well as convince other people in a logical way of the soundness of their judgment or conclusion.


Study Guide

Here are the two websites.
The following questions, based on traditional criteria, help students evaluate story elements.
  1. Does this book tell a good story? Is this story original and fresh?
  2. How well do events build to a climax? Are these events plausible and logical?
  3. Does the theme emerge naturally from the story or overpower the story?
  4. How well are the characters developed? Are they convincing or stereotyped?
  5. How does the style of writing compare with other books?
The following questions, applying special criteria about hypertexts, help students evaluate how multimedia features interact with the story elements.
  1. Do we have to consider other aspects than the text itself?
  2. How well designed is this book? Is it aesthetically satisfying?
  3. Do the sound or the graphics enhance the story?
  4. What is the quality of the web pages?
  5. How are the parts of the story presented and linked?
Here is the classic argument structure website.
The following format might help students write the final report which requires them to read and think critically about e-texts by using certain criteria.

A. Introduction (theme, position)

B. Argument:
  1. Narration (summary of the stories and criteria)
  2. Confirmation (support and evidence)
  3. Refutation and concession (anticipations of objections and restatement of your viewpoint)
C. Conclusion (outcome, solution)


The final group report can be evaluated for its originality of insight, application of criteria, clarity of summary, strength of argument and use of language.

Points for each criterion 1
Originality of insight The insight is limited. The insight is accurate and clever. The insight can enlarge the audience's vision.
Application of criteria The criteria are not acceptable for these books. The criteria are suitable for these books. The criteria are not only suitable for these books but also applicable to other narrative texts.
Clarity of summary The summary is not correct or appropriate. The summary is appropriate and complete. The narration is not only appropriate, but also clear and informative.
Strength of argument The argument is not logical or sensible. The argument is reasonable but still has flaws. The argument is very convincing.
Use of language More than three mistakes in spelling and grammar, and an inappropriate writing style. One or two grammar and spelling errors and an appropriate choice of language. No mistakes in grammar or spelling and a rich and imaginative use of language.


This lesson helps students learn how to interpret, appreciate, and respond to the texts, all of which lead students to read more and study more outside of the classroom. Online resources enable ESL/EFL learners to get access to authentic materials and communicate online. This lesson calls on personal reading interests and levels and encourages both dialogical interaction and reflective thought within oneself and in collaboration with peers in a virtual environment. With appropriate guidance, students will increase not only extensive reading, writing and thinking skills, but also their confidence in and motivation for reading L2 texts.

Web Resources

Links to E-books

The Internet TESL Journal, Vol. X, No. 10, October 2004