Start with Simple Stories and Enjoy Reading

 Written by KAWATE Mariko
January 25 2004
Revised by FURUKAWA Akio
  Ocotober 19 2005
To Bulletin Board in English

SSS Extensive Reading Method is a new way to learn English as a foreign language.

Most Japanese people feel they are incapable of using English as a communicative tool. They also lack the ability to read books, or write letters and reports in English, even though they have studied English for 4-6 hours a week for at least 6 years during junior high and senior high schools.

One can conclude that this is due, in part, to the English teaching methods in Japanese schools, which emphasize the understanding of complex structures grammatically through dictionary assisted reading exercises and rote memorization.

A large number of students study English in order to achieve high scores on examinations and standardized tests. In addition, junior high and high school instructors are expected to focus on teaching straight vocabulary and grammar. 

Few people have questioned this approach to studying English in schools since it has been a long-standing traditional method in Japan.  However, many people have found that their "English" is  of no practical use when they need to employ English skills for work or further study.

Professor SAKAI Kunihide at the University of Electro-Communications has been actively exploring new and alternative methods to improve the Teaching of English as a foreign language for many years.  .

He has shown that when students read multiple easy books for pleasure, the level of input increases greatly. 

In 2001, FURUKAWA Akio, KAWATE Mariko and SATO Maria created the SSS Extensive Reading Study Group to support Prof. Sakai's findings, and in an attempt to spread the SSS Extensive Reading Method, and hopefully to assist many learners who are challenged by learning English as a foreign language.

The chief activities of SSSExtensive Reading Study .Group are as follows:

1. To run the website

2. To demonstrate the extensive reading method

3. To make a book list for SSS Extensive Reading

4. To show how to teach English through extensive reading

1. To run the website

The most noteworthy are the bulletin boards where anyone can write what they think of a book they have read, and discuss problems faced while reading books.  Many people are now actively participating in exchanging their views and ideas. 

2. To demonstrate the extensive reading method

Instructions for the extensive reading process include logical book selection progression, how to choose books appropriate for the individual, the necessary reading speed, how quickly one should advance to the next level, how many words there are in each of the books shown on the book list, how the plot unfolds, and finally, how good the books are and how reviewers rated them.

3. To make a book list for SSS Extensive Reading

There are over 10,000 books introduced on the website with reviews which anyone can write freely. The books include Graded Readers for English learners as Second language, Leveled Readers for native English speaking children, picture books, children's books, paperbacks written for adult, and manga.  The level of the books ranges from beginner to advanced English as a foreign language learner. SSS English Reading Club members have evaluated all the books on the book list and have given each entry a rating on a scale from 0.0 to 10.0.

4. To show how to teach English with extensive reading

Most English teachers have taught students using traditional methodology and thus do not know how to guide them through the experience of reading English books for pleasure.

The first goal of SSS Extensive Reading Method is to read one million words in English. Every time students read a book, they can add its word count to their total.  This has proven to bring learners a great sense of accomplishment, and as a result, has encouraged students beyond our expectations.

There are Three Golden Rules in achieving the goal to read one million words.

1. No dictionaries while reading.

2. Skip over difficult words and phrases.

3. Quit reading when the book is difficult or boring.

Few people realize these  rules as necessary to read books effectively because they are fundamentally so simple and natural.  However, considering how people read in their mother tongue, even small children read in this way.

Although these rules are very important in order to get through over one million words, readers tend to find it difficult to keep them in mind when reading, even though they seem very simple.

Moreover, people do not imagine that reading by these simple rules can lead to improved English.  Most language learners are under the impression that English just requires hard work and thus they have never thought of reading in this way.

Many people have already started the SSS Extensive Reading mehod and are enjoying English books.  Most of them have read more than one million words in a year. Some of them have read more than five million words in a year. They are now realizing that this method is the best way to improve thier English, and what's more, they are finding that the method is enjoyable, adding a fun dimension to the study of English. 

Surprisingly, the SSS Extensive Reading Method puts the reader at ease, and as a result has been a factor in improving listening comprehension in English.

Many lerners have reported that they come to understand the words in the order they hear them.

# In 2006. Professor SAKAI Kunihide left SSS Group and started "Kdomoshiki(Natural Approach)". See details at


The principle of our method is given in the book

"Toward One Million Words and Beyond" (Chikuma-sho bo/ in Japanese) by SAKAI Kunihide. (June, 2002)

"Toward One Million Words for Beginners"
(Cpsmopier/ in Japanese) by FURUKAWA AKio FURUKAWA Akioand ITO Shoko. (May, 2005)

Reading lists can be found in the following books.

"Let's Start One Million Words Extensive Reading From Today " (Nihon Jitsugyou/in Japanese) by FURUKAWA Akio and KAWATE Mariko.(April, 2003)

"Extensive Reading Towards One Millon English Words for Parents and Children "(Nihon Jitsugyou/in Japanese) by FURUKAWA Akioand Itoh Shoko.(May, 2004)

"The Complete Book Guide for Extensive Reading "(Cosmopier/in Japanese) by FURUKAWA Akio et al.(July, 2005)

A Useful pocketbook with the word counts and evaluation of all Graded Readers

gToward One Million Words Pocket Bookh (Cosmopier/ in Japanese) by FURUKAWA AKio (May 2003, Revised version May 2005)

The principle of our method in the classroom

gReading One Million Words in the Classroomh
(Taishukan/ in Japanese) by SAKAI Kunihide and KANDA Minami,(May., 2005)

Title Author Date Download
SSS Extensive Reading Method Proves Effective Way to Learn English Furukawa Akio 2006/04/22 MSWORD FILE
Yomiyasusa Levels, Reading Levels for Japanese Students Furukawa Akio 2014/03/22