Dolphin Readers

Dolphin Readers, published by OUP, are strange beasts. I almost didn’t include them in my roundup, because I don’t think they actually are, strictly speaking, readers.

Rather, they are extremely well put-together supplementary workbooks. They consist of five levels (starter and one to four) and there are eight books at each level. The series is available as a set, or individually. There is also a version that includes CDs, although I haven’t heard them so can’t comment.

Each book has two parts, the text and the questions/exercises. You could conceivably try to just use them as readers, but the questions are so well integrated that I think it would be difficult to do that.

My thoughts on Dolphin Readers:

1. the books are very well-designed, printed on thick paper and with attractive artwork
2. they are fairly reasonable: just over 600 yen on, and less than 20,000 for the full pack of 40
3. the exercises are very well-integrated with the text and practice vocabulary and grammar in a very student-friendly way
4. our students and staff both like the books

Where this series shines is in the classroom. I think the books are designed to be bought by students and used as workbooks in class or for homework. For us, that could get kind of pricey and we already have our students buy a lot of supplementary material, so instead we use the readers in class as a teacher-led exercise where students read the text and answer the questions orally. It’s a great filler activity for those extra three to five minutes that crop up occasionally.

Many people I have talked to prefer the upper levels (three and above), and I agree that they are perhaps more interesting, but I have found all of the books useful. It’s a great resource to have in the classroom.

Any other Dolphin Reader users? I’m very interested in hearing how other people use them too.

I think if you are using them orally, the first two levels are worth using. For actually doing the exercises, though, kids with reading and writing skills adequate for the task would be bored with the first two. The activities, too, don’t start getting interesting until the third level. We used the red, green and purple levels in-class for several years, and they were quite popular. The experience is dynamic, but the content of some of the readers is too young for the level of ability needed to succeed in the books. You really have to have about eiken, level three, ability to work comfortably with the final level, and most kids at our school hit that level in junior high. We switched to Foundation Readers for this reason, and they are a great class experience.

Hi Cynthia

I can see how these would segue into Foundations really well…

In fact, that might be my next review 🙂


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