What is a ‘Reader’?
Have you ever read a book ‘cover to cover’ ( = from start to finish) in English? I can still remember reading a book all the way to the end for the first time in English. It wasn’t easy, but I stayed up for nights to read it, because I really got into the story. When you have finished your first English book, it gives you such a sense of achievement and satisfaction.
If you have never read a book in English before, however, the thought of it could be daunting. This is where ‘Readers’ can be so useful. In this entry, I am going to talk about different things you can do with Readers to improve your English, and hopefully you will have some fun doing it.
So, what are ‘Readers’? They are a series of books which are ‘abridged’ versions of famous books. An ‘abridged’ version of a book or a play means that it is shorter and, in this case, easier than the original. There are a wide range of stories available in the Oxford Bookworm series, and you can see some sample chapters here.
If you are a Tti student, you can borrow a Reader from Marianne’s office, just like you do in a library!
Readers are graded from level 1 to 6, 1 being the easiest. You can try a volume from few different levels and find one that you feel comfortable with, or try the publisher’s official help page here.
What can you do with a Reader…?
The first thing you should do is to ENJOY the read! It really doesn’t matter if you don’t understand everything you are reading at first, as long as you can follow the plot (= the story). Just make sure that you finish the book once you have started. I promise you that, once you have ‘conquered (which is to say that you have finished reading)’ a book, you will feel an immense feeling of satisfaction and achievement, you will want to read more and it will also boost your confidence.
You can also read a book analytically. For example, you can brush up on your knowledge of the narrative tenses just by checking the past tenses being used in a book. Books are also full of wonderful examples of collocations. Let me give you an example:
‘M,… moved his hand towards a pile of paper packets on the desk in front of him. He opened a packet and pushed it across to Bond (Fleming, I. & Bassett, J. (2009) ‘Diamonds are Forever’, Oxford, OUP p. 9).’
Just in these two simple lines, you can learn combinations of words like ‘a pile of paper’, ‘in front of (something)’, ‘push (something) across (to)’. Once you have jotted down these examples, then you can create your own example sentences with them. If you see a structure in a piece of writing that you have never used yourself, then why not copy out the sentence by hand a few times?
Something that will really help your brain to get into ‘English Language Mode’ is to try to learn a very short paragraph, like above, ‘off by heart’ (= to memorise something)! It may sound scary, but practising this will help you remember grammar, collocations and word order more easily, so when you speak and write, you will be able to do so more fluently. Try it with this:
‘Tom was amazed. He thought the palace was beautiful. It was a large building with lots of tall towers and big windows. (Twain, M. & Raynham, A. (2014) ‘Prince and the Pauper’, OXFORD, OUP p. 10).’
When you try to learn a sentence or a passage off by heart, it is vital that you learn it correctly. So, make sure you have analysed the grammar and read the section right. First, read each sentence with your eyes. Then read it aloud. ‘Tom was amazed.’ Now close your eyes and repeat this sentence. Once you are comfortable with saying this without looking at it, add the next sentence, and another until you have learned the whole paragraph! With practice, you could recite a whole page (this is what actors do).
Readers are also available on CDs. They are audio versions of the books which are narrated and which you can listen to! Again, there are different things you can do using the audio. If you have the book and the audio of the passage we have just looked at above, you can check the pronunciation of each word and how the narrator reads each sentence. Listen to it, sentence by sentence, then you can say the same sentence yourself and record it on your phone. Play it back and compare it with the professional narrator’s, then think about the difference. Try to copy the narrator. There are some Readers’ audio versions available for free here.
I really hope you give Readers a try and, if you do find a book that you like in Readers, why not have a go at reading the original?
© 2020 Ado Takasaki
Thanks to Ado for contributing to our blog. If you would like to know more about our courses please follow this link.