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TReaders: First step to ungraded materials.
What is the value of graded readers?

Nick Dawson
Teacher Line. Número 5. Curso 1998-1999. Alhambra-Longman

(Extret del web del col·legi Erain del País Basc: http://www.erain.es)


Graded raaders provide learners fo English with accessible materials for extensive reading. But the use of graded readers is also a key part of the learning process which leads to the reading of ungraded materials.

The learning vallue of graded reading can be broken down into five main areas: structure practice, vocabulary practice and extension, discourse presentation, cultural information and finally the psychological and motivational benefits.


Usually we think only of productive structure practice, but comprehensión practice is also very important. Students should not be confronted with "untaught" structures, but they should have repeated expousure to "familiar" and "semi-familiar" structures in a meaningful context. The learning values derives from the repeated "decoding" of semi-familiar structures.


In the same way, most of the vocabulary in a gradesd reader should be familiar. There will be a few unfamiliar words but the writers/adapters will have built in plenty of context information so that the reader can deduce the meaning. The student will not only gain understanding and confidence through repeated exposure to familiar vocabulary, she/he will have gentle opportunities to deduce the maning of unfamiliar words through a comprehensible context.


In very low level readers the narrative is almost always presented chronologically in a single narrator's voice. Even here the passage of time is clearly marked by paragraph and chapter markers. As learners begin to recognise these discourse markers, these extra signals are no longer used.


The editors of the new Longaman Fiction Series, Andy Hopkins and Jocelyn Potter, have faced their greatest challenges in the area of cultural comprehnesion. Reducing the cultural content makes the text less interesting, but nothing is interesting if you can't understand it. The editors have to find the appropriate balance between cultural riches and comprehensibility.


The psychological benefits of successful graded reading are immense. Reading and enjoying a book in a foreing language is an achivement in itself, and the pleasure is an important part of the process. "Reaching the end of book" with the teacher in control is inevitably less satisfying. Students who have been given texts which are too long or difficult for independent reading will ask for simpler, more accessible material. Failure drives the students towards simpler texts. If you want your students to read authentic texts without assistance, then start them with graded readers.

Finally, there are real linguistic and cultural benefits which derive from the process of comprehension. This is often dismissed as a "pasive", "receptive" or "decoding" skill. But active comprehension is a process of constructing ideas from information in the text and illustrations ans from our knowledge of the world. Comprehension invloves"making sense", and it is important that we remember that the reader is "making" something.


Darrera Actualització: 20.10.2004