The usual recommendations for developing academic language focus on direct teaching of vocabulary, grammar, and the study of nonfiction texts. There is research supporting the view that there may be an easier and more effective way: Self-selected fiction. The evidence includes studies showing that fiction contains a considerable amount of academic language. Reading fiction can also result an increase in academic knowledge: Those who read more fiction know more about history, literature, and science. An interesting and important hypothesis is that self-selected reading is more potent than assigned reading in developing literacy as well as knowledge.
It may be the case that we can best prepare our ESL students for academic success not with painful exercises and demanding (and sometimes boring) informational texts but by providing them with access to reading material that they find comprehensible and extremely interesting.
The path of pleasure may be more effective than the path of pain.