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No. 4 Reading (2005年04月10日)

カテゴリー: The Treasure Hunt Club
Marcel Van Amelsvoort
(Kanagawa Prefectural College of Foreign Studies)
Hi and welcome to another issue of the Treasure Hunt. As promised, we
will continue with our look at using web sites for building individual
English skills. Last month we looked at listening, and this month we’ll
take a look at reading. To be very honest with you, I feel that great
care needs to be taken when using the Internet as a means to teach
reading. Using materials taken from the Internet can be highly
motivational: a teacher can find authentic examples of language for any
area of interest. And this combination of interesting topics and
authenticity is very powerful and very important for learners to be
exposed to, especially as learners start to gain proficiency. However,
the vast majority of web sites are made for a specific function, and
that function is not teaching EFL students to read. Lower level readers
need support and language control if they are to learn, and no matter
what their level, no learner benefits from being overloaded with
incomprehensible language. For most learners, the intensive reading
textbooks they have already are challenging enough. A good intensive
reading textbook, along with an organized program of graded readers for
extensive reading, is the best approach to teaching reading usually.
Short examples of language taken from the Internet can then be used to
increase motivation and interest.

If you are not familiar with extensive reading or graded readers, there
are a number of great sites available to help you learn and get started.
http://www.extensivereading.net/ is a site made by teachers who feel
very passionate about extensive reading. Of course the publishers of
graded readers also have sites with lists of titles, information and
ideas: http://www.penguinreaders.com/ , http://www.oup-readers.jp/ ,

But O.K., let’s say that you really want to find material to use in
class with learners who are not that proficient, what should you do? My
advice is cut and paste and edit. Create a Word document and cut, paste
and edit the text and graphics until you have something that looks and
feels authentic but is still accessible to students. You can also use
sites that feature children’s stories. One of these is
http://www.gradedreading.pwp.blueyonder.co.uk/index.html which features
some good ghost/mystery stories along with information on the history of

If you are teaching learners with greater proficiency, I have found the
strange/weird news items found at various news sites to be very useful.
The Yahoo weird news page is called Oddly Enough. It can be accessed via
http://news.yahoo.com/ . There are also at least two other weird news
collections that can be accessed from the same place. I used selected
stories for a class in reading and discussion. For several weeks, I
frequently visited these sites, saving suitable stories into a Word file.
Then later I was able to pass out enough stories in class so that each
student had their own. Their homework was to read and prepare themselves
to re-tell the story. In class, each student sat with a partner and they
re-told their stories before engaging in a short discussion on them. The
fact that all the stories are strange and true makes the activity
interesting and engaging. We later had a whole-class discussion on which
stories were the most impressive. I must say, however, that care needs
to be taken in selecting stories since often stories feature unsuitable
themes or language, but it should be possible to build a collection of
30 good stories in a week or so.

And lastly, for extremely proficient students, there is
http://prognosticate.com/. Prognosticate.com is a site introduced to me
by a teacher named Peter Miliano that trains readers in vocabulary and
reading, specifically in predicting the words that come next. You choose
the level and the specific story (organized by topic). The article then
appears before you line by line. In just about every sentence, the
computer will give you a pull-down menu and ask you select the word that
comes next. The list is the same for the whole story, so you have to
choose the correct word rather than come up with it yourself. Still, it
is pretty difficult. It’s not recommended for lower levels but this
site could be a great resource for teaching academic English or for a
particular area of study at the college level. Peter and I are both
planning to write to the administrators of the site to ask them to add
some readings more suitable to EFL students. I hope they will.

This week’s Treasure Hunt.
This week’s site is a collection of urban legends and strange facts. It’
s not really good for sending students to since some of the content is
sometimes disturbing. But it is a great place for teachers to go to find
interesting facts or rumors. This month’s questions are all about
Disney, which is only one small part of the site.
Here’s the site: http://www.snopes.com/
Here are the questions:

1. Is it true that Disneyland used to refuse admission to men with long
2. Does Belle, the heroine of Beauty and the Beast actually also appear
in The Hunchback of Notre Dame?
3. Is it true that at least nine guests have died at Disneyland since
it opened in 1955?

[Marcel Van Amelsvoort/ Kanagawa Prefectural College of Foreign