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Selecting reading material

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  • flyeogh
    Participant
    16 May, 2017 at 14:27
    • Total posts: 19

    Just looking for thoughts on selecting reading material. On my course they offer: 100 to 300 words and not more than 5 new words that cannot be easily deduced. Seems sensible.

    But what other criteria is there:

    How important is it that the subject is relevant to the students? Obviously harder the more diverse the students but normally being in a place at a time will mean there must be some commonality.

    Certainly below C1 that the text is logical.

    That the text is grammatically correct.

    Are there any others? Any thoughts welcome as I’m currently gathering reading materials for my students. Cheers

    flyeogh
    Participant
    23 May, 2017 at 17:20
    • Total posts: 19

    Just a bit more on this can anyone suggest what level the following is suitable for? Any comments welcome. I wrote it by the way so it isn’t lifted from a course.

    The agreement was signed, and our trek into the cloud forests of Ecuador began with a taxi ride: two hours on dirt tracks, and for the most part in the dark.
    After a fitful night’s sleep, basic ablutions and a mug of bitter coffee, we met our guide. I must say, it took a while to warm to Carlos, a one armed illiterate and, as it turned out, underpaid local. But once he started to unveil his world, our friendship blossomed.

    Thanks

    dan
    Moderator
    24 May, 2017 at 20:03
    • Total posts: 768

    100 to 300 words and not more than 5 new words that cannot be easily deduced. Seems sensible.

    The length depends on the level of the students and the aim of the reading activity. Generally speaking the higher the level, the longer the text they can manage. But not necessarily… you might, for example (in a lesson with numbers as a language aim) have a long text for beginner level students and ask them simply to identify all the numbers in it. If reading for gist is your main aim with the reading material, rather than reading for detail, then the text could be slightly longer too if you wanted.

    The 5 new words thing does, as you say, seem sensible, but is not always achievable in practice – you’d quite quickly discard a lot of texts if you applied such a strict selection criterion.

    How important is it that the subject is relevant to the students?

    Very – the more you can personalise material (and lessons generally) to students’ interests, the more motivated they will be to learn.

    Certainly below C1 that the text is logical.

    What do you mean here by logical?

    That the text is grammatically correct.

    Again, it depends on your aim. if you’re using the reading text for a grammatical aim, then it helps! If you’re using it for skills work, then it’s less important, although you may not want to add grammatical oddities into the mix, especially at lower levels.

    The agreement was signed, and our trek into the cloud forests of Ecuador began with a taxi ride: two hours on dirt tracks, and for the most part in the dark.
    After a fitful night’s sleep, basic ablutions and a mug of bitter coffee, we met our guide. I must say, it took a while to warm to Carlos, a one armed illiterate and, as it turned out, underpaid local. But once he started to unveil his world, our friendship blossomed.

    It depends how you want to use it. Can you give me an idea of what you’d like to do with the text?

    flyeogh
    Participant
    25 May, 2017 at 14:19
    • Total posts: 19

    Dan many thanks yet again:

    What do you mean here by logical?

    Here is the start of a text I rejected:

    The clown took the red nose off his face and began to cry, but an acrobat tumbled into him and he fell onto the circus floor.

    I rejected it for an Intermediate reading focussed lesson. The reasons being that it is not logical and was therefore likely to create confusion. First an acrobat tumbling into a clown is likely to offend any acrobat. It doesn’t happen.

    And the concept of tumbling is very different for a clown and an acrobat. The old lady tripped and tumbled down the stairs [accident] is obviously different from the acrobat performed a tumble showing great balance and agility [as gymnasts in the Olympics. Especially in some parts of Asia where Acrobats are very much appreciated.].

    If you wanted to teach the difference would you not introduce both forms in context? This reading test offered no further reference to this event.

    It depends how you want to use it. Can you give me an idea of what you’d like to do with the text?

    I’m targeting upper intermediate. I wanted to introduce some vocabulary for that level. I think throwing in ablutions, while being some would say advanced was justified. Secondly the use of prefixes and suffixes. And then finally as an example of punctuation (use of the colon).

    I have a difficult choice here as I am conscious that I do not naturally write things at this level. I have to go through it with a fine tooth comb questioning every comma and every sophisticated word before publishing to students. I’m honestly thinking of only doing teaching up to intermediate. Problem is I now live in Spain with my Spanish family. My reading and film watching are 100% in Spanish. So I’d need writing courses to get back to the necessary level.

    Never thought teaching english would get so complex LOL

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