Principles for teaching reading

In 1986 Ray Williams formulated 10 principles for teaching EFL reading. They included:

  1. In the absence of interesting texts, very little is possible.
  2. The primary activity of a reading lesson should be learners reading texts—not listening to the teacher, not reading comprehension questions, [etc.].

In 2002 Richard Day and Julian Bamford devised 10 principles for teaching extensive reading:

  1. The reading material is easy.
  2. A variety of reading material on a wide range of topics must be available.
  3. Learners choose what they want to read.
  4. Learners read as much as possible.
  5. The purpose of reading is usually related to pleasure, information and general understanding.
  6. Reading is its own reward.
  7. Reading speed is usually faster rather than slower.
  8. Reading is individual and silent.
  9. Teachers orient and guide their students.
  10. The teacher is a role model of a reader.

These points are also discussed in Extensive reading in ELT: Why and how?


Day, R. and Bamford, J. (2002) ‘Top Ten Principles for Teaching Extensive Reading’, Reading in a Foreign Language, 14(2).

Watkins, P. (2018) Extensive reading in ELT: Why and how?. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Cambridge Papers in ELT.

Williams, R. (1986) ‘”Top ten” principles for teaching reading’, ELT Journal, 40(1), pp. 42–45.