Tuesday, 3 July 2007

Graded Readers

One of the ambitions for this blog is that students will gain confidence writing - not just a place for Jim to write about himself :)

One experience over the years has convinced us of the need to encourage students to read more; to read more in terms of quantity, but also variety. It is of course important to read the right kind of material. If it's too hard, of course you give up. If it's too boring, you fall asleep & never finish. If it's not your kind of subject, you don't pick it up. If it's too long, you are too scared to start it!

So we are in the process of encouraging more of our students to get into the habit of reading for fun. Which sounds a bit contradictory doesn't it?! Encourage to have fun? Well, it actually starts by carefully assessing the students' ability & then recommending a level for them to try - nothing too hard, but at the same time nothing too simple or irrelevant to their interests (or work). Involving students in selecting the books is always a good idea - maybe a movie they've seen or an attractive front cover? Whatever!

It's never too late to get into the reading habit - nor too early. Our younger learners also make great progress with readers, developing all kinds of skills (not just English, by the way). Predicting & describing, role playing & personalising...from a language point of view, vocabulary gets recycled & repeated, grammar develops logically & slowly. Spelling & phonics start to make sense, and unknown words don't 'shut down the story' - guessing from context or just not panicking & getting on with it.

Anyway, all good graded readers have a follow up stage, and that's where this blog comes in. Once we've gained a bit of confidence reading and into the habit of picking up another book, reviews/book reports will be the next step. Nothing Times Literary Review or anything - but still an attempt to write coherently & for an audience. Students should peer-review each other's work & post comments. As a class, all students will eventually read the same set of books & post reports on each one.

I look forward to reading some juicy book reports, and I hope you will too.