PREVIEW: Vera the Alien Hunter (Graded Comic Readers)

My students are going to love this

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By the same people that brought us Magic Adventures and School Adventures (waiting for the final installment in May before I write a review), this new graded comic book series arrived yesterday. Vera the Alien Hunter is a girl with a vivid imagination. At one point she starts to meet aliens, although it is not clear if this is real or just her imagination. I have the first three volumes of the series (three stories in each): it seems there will be another three volumes, for a total of six volumes and eighteen stories.

The YL and word counts for each level are similar to the Magic Adventures comics: YL 0.5-0.9, and 300-500 words or so per story.

The Good

  • Really attractive artwork and fun stories.
  • The audio is very high quality
  • Word counts on all the books! Well done e-future.

The Bad

  • The CD is an MP3 CD, which means it doesn’t work with most of our CD players or the students’ ones at home. Pretty disappointed about this, especially as the previous comics had real CDs. Note for publishers: please use normal CDs if at all possible.
  • The books have three stories in each rather than being separate books. This could be a drawback in terms of flexibility (ie more students could use them if they were one book per story).

Overall

This is a great addition to the e-future comics collection. I’m looking forward to the last three volumes and can’t wait to share them with our students (once we re-record the CDs from MP3 to audio).

Yes, I once complained to Compass about the MP3 format, and the rep said they could fit more content on MP3. Is that true? Anyway, I was given the impression that MP3 was the future, and that all teachers and students were just going to have to adapt. So, I have to rip every CD and burn it into an audio format. A lot of extra work. I guess they assume everyone is going to be using the audio attached to a computer? They want to add other content onto the cd that only a computer can read? I don’t see that…maybe if they made tablets that could read cds,,,but maybe they really just want to put it all on-line and get the students used to the tablet interface of the future.

I asked all of my families to copy a CD I made of original content to support their coursework at my school, and five families failed to figure out how to do that. Sigh.

Yes, you can fit a lot more onto an MP3, but for these relatively short stories it shouldn’t make a difference. I think in Korea most CD players work with MP3 CDs, but it doesn’t seem to be the case at all in Japan 🙁

22 Apr 2016, 8:41pm
by Andrew Scott

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The only excuse they could use would be that the audio was over 80 minutes and they used the mp3 format to reduce costs (or to be eco). Other than that it doesn’t really make sense. They are making it less accessible, not more.

One advantage of the mp3 format is that they could tag the files with additional information: artwork, track names, story text in the lyrics tag. But I have never seen any publisher (yet) take advantage of this. (I don’t know if e-future has.) Penguin/Pearson and Heinle certainly never have. They barely seem to know how to tag a file with a track title. Very user unfriendly.

Sony released a few portable CD players 15 years or so ago that played mp3 CDs and there were car CD players that did the same for while. I think the portable MP3 player market kind of killed them. Not sure why the same didn’t happen in Korea.

Anyway, I too have spent many hours burning CDs for non-technically-minded students (even those with iPods and tablets). I’m thinking video tutorials on YouTube might be the answer.

Yeah, those Sony portable CD players cost about 50,000 yen now :O

I guess the publishers might expect everyone to rip the audio onto their smartphone? But if that is the case, why not just put it online and save even more money/resources?

Was considering buying this for my student and using it as a starting point from which to teach vocab and grammar, but it’s been difficult getting information about the content. The most I could get was that it was a finalist for the “very young learners” category of a competition sponsored by ERF.

What would you rank the level of the book as?

Thanks ahead of time!

This is supposedly at the same level as the Magic Adventures series. If you are familiar with YL, that is 0.5 for the first level, 0.7 for the second, and 0.9 for the third.

Compared to the ORT, the first level is about equivalent to level 5.

Compared to something like Oxford Bookworms, the first two levels are easier and the third is about the same as the Starter level.

Hope that helps!

9 May 2016, 2:09pm
by Eunjeong Kim

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Hello, I’m the one of the editors who worked on Vera the Alien Hunter. Thank you for your feedback. FYI, there are two types of the series. One is the combined version which you already have, and another is indivisual version. The attached CD is an audio CD for indivisual version, but sadly, the CD for combined version is an MP3 CD because of an audio CD storage capacity, As far as I know, you can buy indivisual books not combined books in Japan.

Hi Eunjeong

That is great news! Thanks for letting us know.

And thank you for creating such a great series. I’m looking forward to seeing the rest of the books 🙂

 

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