Meet Joseph Poulshock (aka Dr. Shock)

DrShockWelcome to, the blog of Dr. Joseph Poulshock (aka Dr. Shock), professor, author, photographer, singer-songwriter, and Editor of

With over 20 years experience in language education, Joseph is a Professor (of English Linguistics) in the School of Economics at Senshu University. He also has taught linguistics and language teaching methods in the Teacher Education Program Meiji Gakuin University. Continue reading

ER is Essential

By Joseph Poulshock & Douglas Forster

45 Minute Paper, Presented at the Extensive Reading World Congress
Sunday, August 6, 2017

Is ER essential? The presenters consider this claim by looking at various theories en masse, which are corroborated by research, that guide and support ER. Thus, the presenters show that by integrating these theories and their related research that we can have increased confidence that ER is indeed essential.

Click here for PDF.

Experts say that ER is essential, but this claim needs to be supported. We can do so by considering en masse various theories, which are corroborated by research, that guide and support ER.

Thus, in this paper we look at language acquisition and general learning theories that mesh directly or indirectly with ER. These theories include the Communication Hypothesis, the Comprehension Hypothesis, the Spaced Repetition Hypothesis, the Retrieval Hypothesis, the Interleaving Hypothesis, the Generation Hypothesis, the Noticing Hypothesis, the Flow Hypothesis, and the Task-Based Learning Hypothesis.

After seeing the varying degrees that these theories harmonize with ER, we consider their empirical support. In addition, we also examine some of their weaknesses in relation to ER.

For example, extensive readers may acquire language through the receptive spaced retrieval of grammatical and lexical items. This is because readers abundantly meet the same high frequency grammatical and lexical items through ER. However, readers may not as effectively remember the factual or narrative content in texts by reading and rereading because this content is only repeated as many times as a reader reads a particular text. Rather readers may better remember textual content by active retrieval and spaced repetition, such as through spaced self-quizzing of the factual or narrative content in texts.

In short, despite some weaknesses, when we consider en masse the theories that underpin ER, and when we see the related lines of research that support it, we can have increased confidence that ER is truly an essential component of language education.

Extensive Reading for Language and Liberal Arts Education

By Joseph Poulshock and Randall Short
A paper presented at the Extensive Reading World Congress
Saturday, August 5, 2017

Click here for PDF.

Extensive reading (ER) fosters (a) language education with its emphasis on developing verbal intelligence in first and second languages and (b) liberal arts education with its emphasis on critical thinking and whole person education. The presenters define ER, delineate its broad educational benefits, and discuss ways to invigorate its practice.

In this age of information, with its tyranny of the digitally urgent, we may be seeing a sobering decline in enthusiasm for reading. Despite this, extensive reading remains an essential element of education for the sustenance of civil society. In fact, we can say that extensive reading energizes and perpetuates both (a) language education with its emphasis on developing verbal intelligence in first and second languages and (b) liberal arts education with its emphasis on critical thinking and the education of the whole person.

Therefore, educators need to persuade, inspire, and motivate students, fellow teachers, and educational institutions to invigorate the practice of extensive reading so that students can more fully experience its benefits.

Linking Speaking and ER

By Joseph Poulshock and Rebecca Babirye
A paper presented at the Extensive Reading World Congress
Monday, August 7, 2017

Click here for PDF.

Teachers can show how reading can help students improve speaking by linking reading and speaking activities. One such linked activity is the problem solver. Presenters will show how to make problem solvers linked to readings and provide a simple recipe and downloadable template for generating many problem solvers.

Learners often measure their English ability by how well they speak, not by how well they read. However, teachers can link reading and speaking activities, showing students how reading relates to speaking.

One such activity is called the problem solver (Nation, 2013). Problem solvers are small-group speaking activities, which employ three concrete outcomes. The three basic outcomes for problem solvers are: suggest, choose, and rank, and teachers can link these outcomes to extensive, fluency, or intensive reading.

For example, the teacher assigns a simple biography of a famous musician. Students may read it as homework or in-class. After students understand the story, they break into groups and do a problem solver directly or indirectly linked to the story.

Teachers can instruct students as follows. Step one and problem: You want to share your favorite music with friends. As a group, *suggest* 5-7 artists or bands in a list that your friends will like. Step 2: Individual members *choose* your favorite of the five and give a reason for your choice. Step 3: As a group, *rank* your suggestions where number one is the best. Step 4: Groups share their rankings with the class.

This is a sure-fire speaking activity linked to a reading. The three concrete outcomes ensure that it works, by providing a clear recipe for discussion. Presenters will explain other types of problem solvers and provide a basic downloadable template for teachers to create their own.

Nation, P. (2013). What Should Every EFL Teacher Know? Compass Publishing.

Power Point Problem Solver Template

MS Word Problem Solver Template

Talk: The Benefits of Big Reading

The Benefits of Extensive ReadingIn this two-part video presentation, I summarize the benefits of extensive (BIG) reading. In Part 1, I define extensive reading, using the phrase “reading BEE.” That is, extensive reading is Big, Easy, and Enjoyable.

In Part 2, I summarize the benefits of extensive reading, using the word MASTERFUL. That is, extensive reading helps promote MASTERFUL English because of its relationship to the following factors.

  • Motivation: ER motivates reading and learning.
  • Attitude: ER improves attitudes.
  • Syntax: ER develops learner syntax and grammar.
  • Thinking: ER improves thinking, that is writing.
  • Ears: ER benefits listening skills.
  • Riches: ER enriches physical, emotional, and intellectual life.
  • Fluency: ER increases reading automaticity and fluency.
  • Uber-text: ER employs the supreme form of content, namely stories.
  • Lexis: ER improves vocabulary and word knowledge.

I’m posting these videos here for my linguistics students at Meiji Gakuin University, but if you find them helpful, please share them with your colleagues and friends.

(Part 1)

(Part 2)

Introducing -- Make your words count!

iWordcount tools from are now free at! is the free and easy way to count the words that you read or write. Just paste in your text and get your word count data. There are other features, too.

You can input your reading speed and get the reading time of your text. Reading data also shows you the *Reading Ease and the Reading Grade of your text.

If you sign in (it’s free!), you can track your words on your My Information page, just like at and are helpful for learners and teachers who do extensive reading.

Readers can track word counts for books on the Log a Book page. Just input the Title, Publisher, and Total words in the book, and click “I read it! Honestly!”

Readers can also click “Search a book,” and our database will give you the Title, Publisher, and Total words of graded readers.

If you can’t find word count data for a book, use the WolframAlpha tool to estimate word counts. (1) Input the pages you read or will read. (2) Input the lines on one full page. (3) Input the number of words in three full lines. And (4) input the page space without text (pictures or blanks) in the first 20 pages of the book.

You can see a list of the books you read on your My Books Page. And with a free teacher’s account, teachers can track word counts for groups of readers. Contact support (at), and ask for a free teacher’s account for or

Make your words count at! Brought to you by, with over 1,500 stories for learners of English, and where English learners read big!

*Reading Ease and Reading Grade are based on Flesch–Kincaid readability scores. Word counts for stories are only available at