BALANCING INPUT FROM SOFTWARE AND EDUCATOR EXPERTISE IN CREATING GRADED READERS FOR LEARNERS OF ENGLISH AS A SECOND OR FOREIGN LANGUAGE
Tokyo Medical and Dental University (JAPAN)
This poster presentation will present the past, current, and soon-to-be available software tools and other online resources to assist materials writers, curriculum coordinators, and other educators in creating, selecting, and making bast use of graded readers for Extensive Reading (ER) in English as a Second Language (ESL) or English as a Foreign Language (EFL) contexts. Open tools, communities, and sources allow creation and sharing of Open Educational resources in ebook form for language education. However, an over-reliance on data analysis can have negative results.
1. Extensive Reading Foundation Graded Reader List
There is still a significant need for additional properly graded learning materials for second language (L2) readers. The readers that do exist are mainly in a monoculture–most graded readers are very similar. Therefore, choice of language learner literature is limited which may reduce motivation.
2. Simple English Wikipedia
Open source, online community allows a project space for writing simply and receiving feedback. See guidelines at http://simple.wikipedia.org/wiki/
3. Flesch Reading Ease
Flesch Reading Ease and other related scores provide a basic measure predicting readability based upon word and sentence length. This measure has weaknesses when writing for or researching L2 readers. It is aimed at L1 readers; paper-based, so ignores benefits of hypertext; ignores cognitive elements and design.
4. Compleat Lexical Tutor
This commonly used resource helps materials writers and researchers sorting out lexical issues in a text: word families, frequency, headwords, and text comparisons. Handles very large amounts of text/multiple files. Free-to-use and powerful.
Cobb (2007) describes a research plan which also adequately describes many lexical tasks required of graded reader authors. However, a strictly software-driven simplification of lexical items will fail. The author will demonstrate with several parallel texts following a range of simplification approaches from strict prescriptive, to intuitive.
5. Online Graded Text Editor
This new online tool for evaluating lexical complexity offers excellent resources, but is free-to-use, not open source (Browne & Waring, 2012). A truly open alternative is needed.
This new readability index aimed at L2 readers shows promise (Crossley, Allen, McNamara 2011) in accounting for aspects of reading beyond lexical such as cohesion and other cognitive processes. A pro-active tool indicating breaks in coherence (Coh-Git) is available soon.
Browne, C., Waring, R. (2012, October). Introducing the online graded text editor. Paper presented at 38th Annual International Conference on Language Teaching and Learning & Educational Materials Exhibition
12 – 15 October, 2012 ACT City, Hamamatsu.
Cobb, T. (2007). “Computing the vocabulary demands of L2 reading”. Language Learning & Technology. Vol 11(3). pp. 38-63. http://llt.msu.edu/vol11num3/pdf/cobb.pdf.
Crossley, S. A., Allen, D. B., & McNamara, D. S. (2011). Text readability and intuitive simplification: A comparison of readability formulas. Reading in a Foreign Language. 23(1), 84-101
Flesch, R. (1948). "A new readability yardstick". Journal of Applied Psychology 32: 221–233.