The Story behind Graded Readers
by Zainab Al Bulushy
Why use graded readers?
There are a lot of reasons that make graded readers a good teaching aid. Teachers can make good use of them provided that they are given to the right level of students and used properly to fit the purpose of their inclusion in the curriculum. Following are some reasons for their usage, Shizuoka, (2000):
• It increases the amount of information
• It provides unauthentic literature
• It incorporates all students levels
• Students are responsible of their own learning
• Students enhance their reading skills
• Students can read out of class
• It focuses on various skills and fields like politics and social issues
• It increases students knowledge and enjoyment
Using graded readers:
Teachers can apply the following strategies with their students to guarantee better results and good use of the graded reader. Shizuoka, (2000)
1. The students themselves choose a reader:
Teachers could decide on a collection of readers for a certain level and ask students to self select based on their interests:
• Helps decide on input of course
• Helps students to enhance their reading
• Makes students independent in their learning
• Gives students freedom
• Less time to decide on a reader
• Each student can write their own report
2. The teacher decides on the reader for the whole class:
In this case, the teacher decides on one set of a class reader for all the students and assigns them some time to read it outside class. Activities could be generated later for class use besides other kinds of assessment strategies.
• Helps decide on input of the course
• Can create group discussions
• Students have a collective view about the story
• Students better understand the topic of the story
• Students can study vocabulary together
3. A mixture of students' selection and teacher's decision:
This could play a significant role in enhancing students' confidence and contentment as well as having the opportunity for discussions and quality reading.
• Helps increase the amount of reading done
• Helps students with the quality of their reading
Encouraging techniques for students
Students might sometimes be reluctant to consider reading extra texts as Graded Readers especially that they will be tested on at a later stage. There are some techniques that might encourage students to have a positive attitude towards readers. This could be done by making reading fun on some occasions and assessing their comprehension formally later. (Dragana, Filipovic, Longman, Serbia). Some of those techniques include:
• Class shared reviews
Students could be assigned a graded reader to read and then they produce a review for it. They could do that in a group to share their reviews and discuss their opinions on what they got from the story. A written summary of the review could be encouraged here as well.
• Blind dates
In this technique, each two students are given the same reader. They read it on their own and then they find out their partner among the other students. They discuss the reader together each giving their opinion and may answer some questions about the events in the reader. Thus, they share ideas and help each other understand concepts.
A teacher in this technique could use a section from a story to use as a reading or a listening exercise, a spelling check, or a gap fill activity etc. It should encourage the students to predict and try to guess the events of the story. The students then exchange the books to read and check, and they can discuss if their books had good endings and if the endings were what they expected or not. It gives them a sense of achievement and pride.
• Chain reading
Students read different pages of the same graded reader in turns and then report to the class telling what happened in that section of the book in their own language. The other students will be very eager to hear what happened, and will be interested in reading the same book later.
• Use them as prizes:
After completing a certain reader, students run a competition based on the information they got from the story or the vocabulary they learnt. Prizes will be in the form of other readers that will catch students' attention and push them to read and comprehend so that they can share the information later with partners in the class.
• All students get the same graded reader
This could be a tool for quick reading as competition between students and later helps to form questions to check their understanding. Students will feel equally responsible for reading and wanting to show their abilities.
• Students get different readers
Let students choose their readers from a collection you provide. Each student will be responsible for their choice and will be interested in seeing the content of the story they got attracted to and later provide recommendation to the other students in the class.
• Choosing a reader together:
Assign students to propose a reader and agree on it. The teacher could offer suggestions, let students scan them and then decide on one together. This will give students confidence and will make them motivated to read it.
• Readers for pleasure:
As a whole class students could take turns reading aloud. Comprehension questions could be answered in groups and a kind of group competition could be also applied for fun purposes
• Students combats
In this technique, students demonstrate the effectiveness of their chosen book. This activity can happen after reading the whole book or scanning parts of it very quickly.
• Students write their own readers
Students try to write the ending of the reader they have and then continue reading to check their ideas and discuss with their partners the similarities and differences and even preferences of the original one or the one they produced. This is a high level strategy that could be used with high levels of students as a challenge or reward in some occasions.
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