EFL extensive reading high school junior high school materials online resources Reading reviews self-study teaching

Online news site for English learners

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Finally, a post about teaching ­čÖé

I found a nice online news site this week, and have been trying it with some of my classes. I’m going to introduce the site’s functionality, my experience of using it, and then evaluate the benefits and drawbacks of using the site.


The News in Levels website features news stories written specially for learners of English. They have three or four versions of each story (from basic or easy to more challenging), along with a video. The stories are interesting and the various difficulty levels are useful.

My experience

I used the site with some junior high school and high school classes. After choosing a story, I had students read level one and answered their questions. They we read level two together. Finally we watched the video. It was a quick and successful lesson with several groups. The site also worked well with individual students.

Good and bad points


  • interesting stories
  • good presentation
  • texts and video
  • a large number of stories on the site
  • free


  • many of the texts have mistakes/typos. Missing words, spelling mistakes, strange phrasing. It would be safest to check everything first, although this could also result in some teaching moments
  • the leveling isn’t always great. Sometimes the same sentences are used in two different levels
  • prominent advertising throughout the site


I liked this site very much. I think it has a lot of potential as long as teachers and learners are aware of the shortcomings. Could be a good resource to allow learners to move on to higher-level texts. Worth a look.

If you have any other good websites you can recommend, please leave a comment below ­čÖé

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Graded Reader Word Counts


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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Oxford Owl website

oxford owl

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 website has reading and maths┬ásections. I haven’t done much with the maths so far.

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:

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Every Kid Needs a Champion -what a great TED talk

I saw a fantastic TED talk the other day, and wanted to share it with you. I think it is very applicable to all teachers, including eikaiwa and university.

I would love to be half as inspiring as this woman.

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ER@TU website

TU logo

The ER@TU (Extensive Reading at Tohoku University) Project now has a website!

Features of possible interest to teachers include the Guide to ER (bilingual page aimed at students explaining extensive reading and this particular program) and the Word Counts page, which lists graded reader titles and word counts only (aimed at teachers and students).

The website has both PC and mobile versions, and is not quite finished yet (to put it mildly!).

The site is a WordPress installation on Bluehost, as explained very thoroughly by Michael Hyatt in this excellent blog post. I paid for three years in advance, bringing the monthly cost to around 400 yen. This works very well, as my contract is also up in three years time, so hopefully this will give me some leverage with the university ­čśë

Please leave a comment below if you have any questions or suggestions about the site.