"Picking up word meaning by reading is 10 times faster than intensive vocabulary instruction." - Stephen Krashen, The Power of Reading.
"Incidental learning of words during reading may be the easiest and single most powerful means of promoting large-scale vocabulary growth." - W.W. Nagy & P.A. Herdman
(quotes about reading listed in Bryce Hedstrom's book Stuff for Spanish Class)
The more I read about language acquisition in a second language, the more I understand the importance of reading. The past school year was the first year that I had a two times a week planned SSR time for my Spanish classes and it was, hands down, a success. I discussed SSR with my students on the last day of school and the overwhelming response was that they enjoyed it and felt it was beneficial to them. Many said they think it should be at least 3 times a week.
So now that it is summer and I have some spare time, I followed the advice that I give to my students and went to the Community Library and checked out three Spanish books for some easy summer reading. I"ll start with the James Patterson book, Los Puentes de Londres" and Sandra Cisnero's La Casa en Mango Street (sometimes I have the habit of reading two books at the same time). Then, if I haven't obtained En Llamas yet, the second book in the Hunger Game Series, I'll start the Twilight Saga books. One of my all-time favorite books is El Alquimista by Paulo Coehlo and I'm considering reading that again, just for fun, and then possibly using it in Spanish 5 in the future.
Our community has a wonderful library that has a huge selection of Spanish books. There are children's picture books, young readers, classics, novels, biographies, fiction and non-fiction, how to books, magazines, DVDs, videos, audio books, encyclopedias, science books, cookbooks - just about any type of reading you can do in English is available in Spanish. The librarian that is in charge of the Spanish section is open to suggestions on what types of books to add to the collection. Just recently she went through the books that were not checked out very much and offered them to me instead of discarding them. I now have even more books for my class library to use for SSR time.
Another thing I've added to my summer personal development plan is listening to podcasts in Spanish. I usually walk a minimum of 3.5 miles each day. If I don't have a walking companion, I take my iPod and listen to Spanish podcasts that I've downloaded so I can multitask and take advantage of the time while I'm walking. I find it beneficial to listen to the same podcasts several times to pick up on words or phrases that I may have missed the first time; another reminder to me that I have to go S-L-O-W when I'm telling stories and talking to my students in Spanish.
If you have a favorite Spanish book that you'd like to share with me or podcasts that you like to listen to personally or use in class, I'd be interested in hearing about them - so please feel free to share them. :)