Published 22nd February 2019
Reading is an essential skill in learning a language. Reading is necessary to be able to get by in a foreign language, even more so than writing which you can, to a certain extent, get by without. Unfortunately not everyone is an avid reader, and this applies too to our English as a Foreign Language students. Students often don’t like reading because they find it boring or too difficult in English. One way we can help our students get to grips with reading and enjoy it more is by using graded readers.
What are graded readers?
Graded readers are books which have been written with students of a certain level in mind. In other words, they are books pitched at a certain language level. They often include glossaries of the more difficult words for the readers to reference. They are often well-known stories which have been condensed and rewritten in simpler English.
How to use graded readers in the classroom
First, let your students choose their graded readers. If the whole class is reading the same book, give the students a choice and let them vote on which one they would like to read. While you can’t please everyone, by giving them a choice you are giving them autonomy and they are more likely to be interested in reading the book.
Make sure the book is at the right level for your students. If they read a page, and they don’t understand more than three words on that page, then the reader is too difficult for them. If they a read a page and they understand every word on the page, then it is too easy. Finding the right level for your students is crucial to ensure success. Nobody likes reading with a book in one hand and a dictionary in the other.
Just as the level of the book is important, so too are the activities you do with the book. Make sure your activities are appropriate for your students. Some people may not enjoy talking about books, so they won’t enjoy taking part in book club-type activities. Others may not appreciate reading during the lessons as they think it is a waste of classroom time. Think about your students and plan activities which will suit them.
For all learners it would be beneficial to spend time reflecting on the topic of the book. Young Learners enjoy being creative and can do puppet shows, make posters or act out scenes from the book. Adult learners can enjoy activities which build on knowledge learnt in the book, such as through a webquest or presentations.
Tackling reading in the EFL classroom can be tricky. It can be hard enough to persuade our learners to do intensive reading as part of a classroom activity, let alone extensive reading. Graded readers are just one way you can encourage your learners to incorporate reading in English into their daily lives. Hopefully it will interest them and open their minds to the learning possibilities in reading, rather than boring them to sleep!