The Story behind Graded Readers
by Zainab Al Bulushy
Students' reading level
In this case students should be asked to choose books at various difficulty levels provided that they have been instructed on the exact levels of the scale. They are given time to read a little of each book for a few minutes. The following questions should be kept in students' minds:
• Can I read it without using a dictionary?
• Can I read it quickly?
• Is it easy to understand almost everything?
If students answer yes to each of the previous questions, then in that case the book is their specified level. They could even try a higher level book to check their ability to move to the next level and so on. If the answer is no to even one of the questions, then in this case they need to try the lower levels until they become comfortable with their level of understanding.
Value of Graded Readers:
Graded readers are very useful language learning means that have a lot of positives on behalf of students' learning development. However, there seems to be some negative points raised up by linguists in this field which include:
• Many graded readers show incidents of wrongly written texts and in some cases content is irrelevant, Davison (1986); Wallace (1988).
• Simplifying the graded readers to fit students' level could result in more difficult or complicated language.
• Sometimes they are compared to authentic literature and therefore are considered less in quality and effectiveness.
• The content and presentation of the readers could be under judged sometimes especially if it is not appropriate to a certain culture.
• In some cases, people do not value the importance of graded readers just because they ignore their effectiveness in the learning process.
• In some cases readers lack cohesion, coherence, and appropriate discourse structures (Anderson & Armbruster, 1986)
• They sometimes contain too complicated styles and terminology which might discourage students' comprehension.
Sections of evaluation
To evaluate the quality of the graded reader to be used effectively and serve the teaching and learning process, the following criteria should be taken in consideration: ('Assessing Graded Readers' by Peter Viney):
• The level of the story
The level of the graded readers should be suitable for the students' level and should identify clearly the kinds of students this level will best fit. Sometimes even the stated level on the cover of the reader should address and clarify the correspondent level of students depending on every institute's case. For some students a level 5 would fit into the exact level 5 of some institution, whereas for others it might be higher and a level 4 would fit better.
• Language difficulty
Language difficulty should also be considered seriously. It should correspond to the language level students are provided with in their learning environment; otherwise it would be difficult for them to follow and comprehend and hence benefit from the graded reader itself.
• Writing quality
Accuracy is a very important factor. A graded reader ought to be a trustworthy source of language that should be presented in a correct manner. The writing efficiency will help students improve their writing and learn the correct writing styles.
• The presentation of the reader
This is very important to encourage students to overcome the difficulty of some texts sometimes. It also provides them with meaningful illustrations which should be exact and dependable.
• General design
General design plays a significant role in accepting to read the graded reader. It provides students with an overview of the reader. It should be suitable to the content and kind of information. Quality of typing is also important. It should be attractively clear and readable. Editing should meet the standards and should be accurate.
• The summary of reader
This is a helpful device for students to get an overall idea about the whole content before they start the reading which will give them an opportunity to decide the pace and manner of their reading. It will also help them decide whether to read the story or change it.
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