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I was at the Pan-SIG conference this weekend, held in Nagoya (the excellent Nanzan University hosted the event). This is the video of my presentation (a little shorter than usual):
Thanks to everyone who attended.
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Right, this is the third and final post (for now) about graded readers and word counts. From now on, I will be posting about this issue only at the Facebook page I have set up to co-ordinate the various proposed campaigns.
I think as well as the boycott, it would be useful to encourage teachers to write to publishers directly, as well as create some educational resources aimed at informing publishers about the issue.
Thanks for all the support and suggestions so far, and hopefully see you on Facebook!
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I really enjoyed reading all the replies to yesterday’s proposal. A few people thought that calling for a boycott was a bit harsh, but it was very interesting that so far not one person has offered a reason for publishers not to print word counts on graded readers.
My personal take is that some editors are not aware that word counts are a useful and, for some teachers and programs, essential tool.
I am going to proceed with the boycott. To assist in that effort and to help connect with publishers who are not yet aware of the issue, I am going to create a website listing various graded reader series in three categories:
- A Greenlist of series that clearly print accurate running word counts on books
- A Greylist of series that do not print word counts on books, but do make full and up-to-date word count information available on the Extensive Reading Foundation website
- A Blacklist of series that do not print word counts on books, and also do not make word count information available on the ERF website
I hope this will become a useful resource for teachers and institutions when they are choosing materials for their classes and programs. The site will be maintained and updated if conditions change (ie a publisher starts printing word counts on books, or makes the information available on the ERF site).
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Right, I have had enough.
Our graded reader program uses word counts to track student progress. I believe this is superior to using pages or books or time. It makes it easy to compare students across levels, and to standardize goals and progress.
Every year, I spend days searching for word counts, writing them in books, putting them on our website, and even counting words by hand because the publisher refuses to release the word counts for the book (why, Black Cat, why?).
Well, I’m not going to do that any more. I understand that each publisher is free to make editorial and design decisions, and not printing word counts on books is one of them. However, I am also free to decide which books I buy, and I would like to say publicly here that I will no longer be ordering graded readers that do not have word counts printed clearly on them. I have an unlimited budget here at Tohoku University, and a considerable one at Cambridge English, and from now on I will be using those funds exclusively to buy readers from publishers that listen to teachers when they say that they need the word counts on the books.
I would like to invite other teachers that use extensive reading and graded readers to join me. Please contact your sales rep/book distributor and let them know that you care about this issue. I’m guessing that we will see some changes fairly quickly if enough people get involved.
Are you with me?
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This is another post I have been meaning to write for a while. Oxford Owl is a free website created by Oxford University Press. It has a range of useful resources -I’ll briefly list a few here.
The reading section has a range of free ebooks from the Oxford Reading Tree series. Most of the books can be read online, and feature the art, text, and audio. This is a wonderful resource for self-study at home or in the classroom.
There are also a couple of online games and a range of printable resources for students.
Finally, there is a lot of advice for teachers and parents on how to teach reading and support students with reading practice. Although much of this is aimed at native speakers, a lot of it transfers quite well to EFL.
Is anybody using Oxford Owl? Any good features I have missed? Please leave a comment below: