is a graduate of the University of South Africa’s Department Of Communications and has over 18 years English teaching experience. Craig is an author and the series editor of the children’s reader series for Oxford University Press, called Dolphin Readers. He has also written a number of phonics series for young learners, and is the chief editor for a young learners’ bilingual dictionary.
What does a series editor do?
A series editor is a little different from a desk editor. A desk editor works on the details and finer points of the text in each reader, while a series editor guides the direction of the reader series as a whole. The series editor has a vision about what kind of readers need to be developed to meet the needs of students and teachers.
As series editor for Dolphin Readers I was responsible for developing the format of the readers, the cross-curricular categories in the series, the types of stories created and the features like those found in the audio support. I worked closely with the authors, the desk editors, the design and artwork team to create a series of activity based, graded readers that are designed to engage young learners and give them plenty of practice exercises to improve their grammar and vocabulary skills.
What’s the best part about your job?
The best part of my job working with a wonderful team of people in OUP and seeing the text, the artwork and the design come together in a book. I get great satisfaction seeing students learning from, and enjoying reading the books.
What are some of the benefits of using graded readers in class?
Graded readers are books which have been written to suit different levels of English. Teachers can select a reader that is suitable for their students’ level of English competence. The words and sentence patterns are carefully chosen to ensure that a student, reading a suitably chosen graded reader, won’t have to stop and look up lots of unknown words in the dictionary or be frustrated by not being able to understand the sentences that they read. Graded readers contain a lot of word recycling, which means that headwords are frequently repeated throughout the reader so that the student will encounter the word several times in a story. This recycling of words helps readers acquire and retain new words. Graded readers allow students to practise English and enjoy the language in an informal and pleasurable way, much as they might enjoy reading books in their own language.
Why do you feel that reading is important in language development?
Reading is an essential part of learning any language. It has a key role in how we learn our first language, and an equally important role in learning a foreign language. Research has shown that students who read in English improve in every area of language learning at a faster rate than students who don’t read.
One of the key hurdles in learning a foreign language is the lack of a suitable ‘environment’. Students learning English as a foreign language often do not have a lot of opportunity to experience English outside of their English classes, making it difficult for them to really get to know the language. Reading provides students with the opportunity to engage with English whenever and wherever they like. They can pick up a book anytime and read.
Reading also gives students the opportunity to see the language in the form of text. Through reading students get accustomed to ingesting information in the form of complete, written sentences, with all the right punctuation in the right places. A steady diet of complete, written sentences will eventually result in their ability to produce the language by themselves, either in spoken or written form.
Graded readers are an excellent way to motivate your students to read, through interesting stories and exercises. They will help to make your class interesting and enjoyable for your students.
How can teachers encourage their pupils to read more?
Motivation to read is a key component of reading success and should be a goal of reading instruction. Teachers are not merely responsible for providing instruction in the mechanics of text and reading, they also bear responsibility for instilling in all students a desire to read.
First and foremost, teachers should exhibit their own love of reading. If the students see the teacher getting excited about reading a book, there is a good chance that they will follow the teacher’s example. Teachers should read to their students as often as possible. In doing so, they teacher provides a good model of reading fluency and how it should be done. In my experience, all students love listening to stories. They provide students with a rich language experience and are highly motivational for students. Reading a story well to your students will undoubtedly result in the students wanting to read the book for themselves.
Teachers should also encourage students to talk about, answer questions and complete various ‘after-rea ding’ tasks, thus creating a purpose for reading.
It is a great idea to provide a quiet reading time as part of the regular class routine. This quiet reading time could be the last 5 or 10 minutes of the class. Each student should take out their reader and read to themselves silently. This is an excellent opportunity for the teacher to lead by example by taking out a book and reading quietly, too. Remember to talk about the book, you are reading, with your students, and encourage them to do the same.
The most popular Dolphin Readers in Spain are:
- Let’s Go to the Rainforest (level 3)
- Where People Live (level 4)
- New Girl in School (level 3)
- City Girl, Country Boy (Level 4)
Have you got any reading tips to share with our readers/teachers?
For teachers: Instilling a love of reading in your students is the best gift you can ever give them.
For Students: The more you read, the more you will learn. The more you learn, the more things you will know. The more things you know the more places you will go.
Many thanks to Craig for taking time to answer our questions!