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Re: [ExtensiveReading] More needed at the bottom? (Re: SSS ER Workshop on July 16)

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  • Warren Ediger
    Gordon, Is this the kind of thing you re looking for? It s a quick and dirty list of publishers and series that include low-level fiction, informative, and
    Message 1 of 47 , Aug 1, 2006
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      Is this the kind of thing you're looking for? It's a quick and dirty list of publishers and series that include low-level fiction, informative, and biographical works, many with subjects of interest to adults. I've used some of these when I've had to work with what we call low-beginners. Several of the series are graded.
      Here they are:
      SeaStar Books – Seymor Simon “See More” Readers
      Simon & Schuster – Aladdin Paperbacks – Ready to Read
      Random House – Step into Reading
      Dorling Kindersley Readers – www.dk.com
      Scholastic, Inc. – Scholastic Readers; Scholastic Science Readers
      Grossat & Dunlap – All Aboard Reading
      Barns & Noble – adapted literature, such as The Adventures of Tom Sawyer
      Holiday House – Holiday House Readers
      National Geographic – Nat'l Geographic Reading Expeditions
      Sorry I don't have time to annotate them for you.

      Warren Ediger

      Gordon Luster <gordonluster@...> wrote:
      Hello folks,

      It's pretty clear that vacation time is upon us. The flood of postings we were having has
      dried to a trickle.

      I'd like to give some belated thanks to all of the presenters at the Japan Extensive Reading
      Association' s workshop at SEG in Tokyo a couple of weeks ago (below). It was an
      interesting, well run program, and especially interesting because the presenters were all
      Japanese and thus in a good position to know what works for Japanese learners.

      One thing that especially strikes me about the "SSS" approach that was presented there is
      the idea that learners should start reading "from zero," i.e., they should begin with the
      very, very simple picture books that we normally read to little children. I doubt that many
      of us ask our students to do that, and it may seem a little extreme. However, it reminds
      me of an eccentric but very effective course I was involved in a few years ago, in which the
      objective was getting Japanese company office workers to speak English fluently. We
      started everybody off at the same level, and the first exercise was to repeat "I like coffee"
      hundreds of times, as fast as the mouth would move. Beginning with that, we ramped up
      the complexity of the speaking tasks very slowly while trying to maintain the speed,
      eventually arriving at debates and speeches. This was an intensive course typically
      spanning one or two weeks, and it worked remarkably well. The prerequisite was merely
      that the students had been through the standard Japanese education system, in which they
      got plenty of English vocabulary and grammar but little experience actually using it.

      I'm not teaching now, but I used to use ER as "homeplay" (because the students wouldn't
      do "homework") when I was teaching company classes. Most of my students had already
      been taking English classes for more than ten years, and some for thirty years. It never
      entered my mind then to ask company managers to read children's books, and I don't
      think I would have the nerve to do that even today, yet I often heard comments from those
      students that Oxford Bookworms Level 1, the easiest material I had for them, was

      This means that in my program, a fair proportion of the students, if not all of them, were
      starting their reading in intensive mode. That's unavoidable when the material is
      "difficult." So, the question arises: did they ever really learn to read fluently, or were they
      always reading at least "semi-intensively" throughout the program? I never tried to find
      that out, because it never occurred to me at the time. My feeling was that they should just
      plug away at it until they got used to it and it became easy for them.

      But I wonder, if we really want students to read fluently, really enjoy the experience, and
      really read a lot, isn't it important to start with something that is truly easy for them, right
      at the beginning, essentially the "I like coffee" of reading? Can we expect everybody to
      start at a "relatively" easy level, stick with it a while, and gradually become fluent with
      practice? If we wouldn't start them at Level 6 because it is too hard, is Level 1 OK if it is
      also too hard?

      In Japan, and I suppose in other countries, there seem to be almost no age-appropriate
      super-easy reading materials that we can use to get adults and older kids started, if we
      really want them to start from zero. I wonder if bunny-rabbit stories can possibly hold
      serious adults' interest for very long. I'm producing online materials now, so I'm going to
      try to put together some very easy, heavily illustrated fare for adults myself, but I'm also
      wondering what might be available for adults in traditional media at the lowest levels. Can
      anybody recommend anything?

      Also, have a nice vacation,


      --- In ExtensiveReading@ yahoogroups. com, Akio FURUKAWA <fakio@...> wrote:
      . . .
      > ¡ÈThe Door to Success: ER is the Key¡É
      . . .
      > The success of ER (extensive reading) depends largely on the amount of
      > reading actually done by students. The "Let's Read One Million Words"
      > approach to ER, or SSS (Start from Simple Stories) ER is believed to be one
      > of the best ways to motivate learners of English to read a great deal of
      > English books.
      > In this workshop, participants will have hands-on experience on how to
      > start an extensive reading class, using a variety of English books, from
      > simple picture books for English-speaking children to popular paperbacks
      > for teenagers and adults.
      > This is our first workshop in English and it is designed to give you a
      > complete picture of the "Let's Read One Million Words" ER approach.
      > 10:00-10:50 Recommended Titles to Use in Your ER Classroom and¡¡the
      > Suggested Number of Books to Start an ER Program
      > ¡¡Furukawa, Akio (SEG)
      > (http://www.seg. co.jp/sss/ information/ SSSER-2006. htm)
      > 11:00-11:50 Three Golden Rules for the ER Class and the Importance of
      > Extensive Reading in the Classroom
      > ¡¡Sakai, Kunihide (University of Electro-Communicati ons)
      > 12:00-13:30 Lunch (please bring a lunch)¡¡Open Discussion¡¿Display of
      > Various Books for ER¡¿Short Tour to SEG Library and ER Classroom
      > 13:30-14:20 How to Utilize Easy English Readers in the ER Class¡¡
      > ¡¡Mayuzumi, Michiko (Juntendo University)
      > ¡¡Kanda, Minami (Heisei International University)
      > 14:30-15:20 A Few Tips for Implementing a Successful ER Program
      > ¡¡Takase, Atsuko (Kansai University, Baika High School)
      > 15:30-15:40 Closing Remarks
      > Sakai, Kunihide

      How low will we go? Check out Yahoo! Messenger’s low PC-to-Phone call rates.

    • Gordon Luster
      Hello again, Thanks again to everyone who has responded to my initial question about low-level materials for adults. I don t want to clutter the world s
      Message 47 of 47 , Aug 13, 2006
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        Hello again,

        Thanks again to everyone who has responded to my initial question about low-level
        materials for adults. I don't want to clutter the world's inboxes with lots of emails, so I'm
        going to make some comments on multiple posts here.

        There have been a couple of important comments on the need for student understanding
        of what we are doing. Clive (on Aug. 8) mentioned that:

        "Many adults - including young adults - tend to be a bit sensitive - even offended - if
        downgraded to absolute beginner status, though they don't mind being downgraded a
        little, if the reasons are explained clearly."

        And Beniko (Aug. 11) had some related advice:

        "It is a good idea to talk about how important reading (comprehensible input) is for
        language acquisition not only at the beginning but also during the course.

        It is helpful when students know why they need to read, how they should read, what the
        goals are, how they can reach the goals, and how long it will take to reach the goals. It
        may help if they know the effects and efficiency of the method."

        I have found that a really good explanation at the beginning of the course, with some
        reminders later, is also very helpful in the "I like coffee" speaking-fluency courses I
        mentioned earlier, which have some similarities to ER. Japanese students are so used to a
        plodding, analytical approach to language learning that it may take some real convincing
        to get them to imagine how a radically different (and easier and more enjoyable) approach
        could help them.

        For very low-level students, the explanations need to be in their native language. Beniko
        mentions her own Japanese introduction to ER. I gather the old version is the one at:
        I hope she posts her new one, also. I'm also planning to direct some students to the SSS
        pages at:

        The reason I'm so concerned about low-level students now is that I'm involved in a plan
        with a Japanese friend to start up some English classes for adults in our neighborhood.
        I've always been mainly a teacher of adults, but my adults have been company employees
        who have taken English courses off and on for years. This time I may get some
        housewives and retirees who have been out of school and away from English for decades.
        In those cases it will be imperative to start them off at the genuine beginning, yet I don't
        want to give mature adults nothing but children's books. Just convincing them that great
        quantities of easy reading will help them may be hard enough. If that reading is also at
        the intellectual 4-year-old level, the convincing won't be any easier.

        Clive mentioned EPER's reading cards. I've heard of these but haven't seen them. Stories
        in cartoon format should be especially useful at the lowest levels, since the pictures help
        to clear up uncertainties about the meaning of the language. I'd like to find or maybe
        create some things of that sort that are clearly aimed at adults. As Tina (Aug. 4) pointed
        out, it is likely that "we can only go so low," i.e., some things can be hard or impossible to
        say at a super-low level. Thus, producing things that are interesting to adults but still
        very easy may be anything but easy.

        Finally, I think Atsuko has pointed out something that isn't emphasized enough among
        the reasons we give for promoting ER: its potential for ridding students of their hyper-
        analytical and translation-dependent view of foreign languages. In those speaking-
        fluency classes, we try to apply some time pressure in nearly every activity so that
        students don't have time to analyze or translate what they want to say. They just have to
        blurt it out. As long as we are careful that the language they have to blurt out is simple
        enough, they can do it. I think the same is likely to apply to ER. If we let the students drift
        too far upward before they are really comfortable, they may slip back into analysis and
        translation. If we want them to enjoy the process and become truly fluent, we have to
        make sure the material doesn't drive them to doing that. I hope that mixing in a little
        intensive reading doesn't hurt, because it is hard to avoid and probably useful for picking
        up new language, but the easy stuff always needs to be there, and it needs to be
        interesting to the students, whoever they may be.

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