REVIEW: Oxford Decode and Develop (ORT)

One of my favourite additions to the Oxford Reading Tree


detective adventure

I’m a big fan of the Oxford Reading Tree series, and it forms the core of our beginner extensive reading program.

I’ve always felt the core stories were the best part of it, with additional components such as Floppy’s Phonics, Songbirds, and Fireflies good but not always maintaining the same level of story interest.

However, recently we bought a full set of the Oxford Decode and Develop series for ORT, and I am really impressed.

The stories feature the main characters and seem to be story based, with a similar level of interest as the ‘trunk’ books.

The good

Same ORT characters and fun storylines
Audio available online for free
Phonics-based, so slightly easier to read for EFL students

The bad

The artwork seems slightly different
Er, that’s it


The content is more stand-alone and not really integrated with the trunk stories (this could be good or bad, I guess)
Big thumbs up from me

Some of my favourites (yes, I like Floppy)

The following packs are available:

Level 1 (wordless): two packs
Level 1+: two packs
Level 2: two packs
Level 3: two packs
Level 4: two packs
Level 5: two packs
Level 6: one pack
Level 7: one pack
Level 8: one pack
Level 9: one pack

You can see most of our collection here (some packs are on loan). We put each pack in a ziplock bag with its CD.

So I consider ODD to be a healthy addition to an ORT ER library. I would get the core stories first, but this is a good way to expand them if you want more of the similar.

VIDEO Oxford Teaching Workshop Series, Sendai 2015

Oxford Reading Tree

I really enjoyed presenting at the Sendai Oxford Teaching Workshop Series last Sunday. It was great to present on home ground, and we had a fantastic audience on the day.

My presentation was “Reading: the key 21st Century skill” and made the following points:

  1. reading is very important, and should be part of all language courses
  2. non-fiction is often neglected, but many learners prefer it and it is sometimes easier to understand
  3. OUP has a nice range of non-fiction readers
  4. how to include reading practice in your classes
  5. how to design an extensive reading program

You can see the full presentation below:

Please let me know if you have any questions or comments 🙂

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 sections. 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:

VIDEO Oxford Teaching Workshop Series 2013: Creating a Reading Program for Young Learners

This year I was very fortunate to be invited to be part of the Oxford Teaching Workshop Series, presenting in four cities in Japan this spring. This video is from the Okayama session:

Please tell me about your reading program in the comments.

Okayama and Osaka Oxford Teaching Workshops

I would just like to thank everyone who turned out for the Okayama and Osaka Oxford Teaching Workshops. I had a great time meeting and talking to you, and the many questions really helped me see where my presentation needs more work 🙂

As promised, here are the slides I used for my presention


Please feel free to get in touch if you have any questions.

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