The Story behind Graded Readers
by Zainab Al Bulushy
The paper discusses graded readers from various aspects. It defines graded readers through diverse views, and then provides information on the various types of graded readers available, their levels and publishers. Reasons for using graded readers are highlighted along with other views regarding their use. It also discusses the different strategies used for engaging students and encouraging them to read and comprehend. Various assessment strategies used to test students understanding are also addressed. Finally the paper shows research results of students' views on the current graded readers they read, their preferred types and assessment techniques.
It is very well known that the most excellent approach to advance your capability in a foreign language is to take the effort and go to live in the community of its speakers. The other paramount way is to increase your reading comprehensively in it by more reading. Nuttall, (1996). English language teaching deals with the four skills (reading, writing, listening and speaking) equally. In the reading component of each course or program certain strategies could be adapted to ease the learning process. One of these is using graded readers. They come in so many different genre and teachers are responsible of choosing the readers that would fit their students age, interest and level of English. Graded readers have been used in the teaching of English for quite some time now and they gained a lot of praise over their beneficial use and effects on students of all levels through the development of their reading skills in general.
What are Graded Readers?
Graded readers are a shape of language learner prose. They are special books particularly written for second or foreign language learners. Hill and Thomas (1988) provide a definition for graded readers as books "written to a grading scheme," they could take the shape of simplifications or original books. They are typically unmitigated fiction texts, in which language is simple in terms of structure and vocabulary. They are easy versions of classics, modern novels, and fairy tales. The British council provides a definition for Graded readers as "books that have had the language level simplified to help second language learners read them. The language is graded for vocabulary, complexity of grammar structures and also by the number of words. They are made to cater for all levels from beginners through to advance".
Types of graded readers:
There are three specified types of graded readers as provided by Simensen (1987):
(a) Authentic readers,
These include the ones not written for academic use;
(b) Pedagogic readers,
These are designed particularly for learners of English as a second or foreign language.
(c) Adapted readers,
These have been derived and simplified from original versions.
The ERF Graded Reader Scale
The Extensive Reading Foundation (ERF) has established a scale as to determine the different levels of graded readers depending on language difficulty and the vocabulary items they include. This scale was mainly developed for the following reasons:
• It allows teachers to group their collection of graded readers using an understandable scale.
• You can Check if this scale is equivalent with the levels the ERF provides for the Language Learner Literature Awards
• To Produce a standardized Scale to judge the difficulty levels of various series from different publishers
• To Provide a kind of unity among institutions
• It Provides a framework for publishers to consider the levels they may decide to publish
Analysis of a good number of graded readers took place before deciding on the various levels and therefore the scale has some specified features such as:
• It goes from the easy Alphabet level (50 headwords) to the most Advanced (4500 headwords) and it covers 99% of the books available on the market
• It is divided into 5 levels each contains three sub-levels to make it easy to classify
• It is based only on headword counts
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