It seems to me like I’ve been away from blogging for a lot longer than a month. Apologies. I’m currently in the middle of putting together a post on my experimental practice (for the intro to this, see here), but I thought I’d put that on hiatus for a moment to share something I find rather cool.
With over 30 years of publishing under its belt, and more than 45,000 subscribers worldwide, the New Internationalist is renowned for its radical, campaigning stance on a range of world issues, from the cynical marketing of babymilk in the Majority World to human rights in Burma.
Publications from the New Internationalist are produced by an independent trust working as a not-for-profit cooperative. Because the New Internationalist operates as a not-for-profit, income from sales of publications and gifts goes into the production of our titles and to spread our aims and ideals, not into a rich media tycoon’s pocket!
So, obviously a fantastic, critical-awareness-raising, and varied resource for teaching English! However, a fair number of ESOL/EFL students might not be able to access the wealth of such a reading resource because the articles may be quite difficult to read (hell, they might even be too much for me at times!).
Which leads us to the New Internationalist Easier English Wiki. This is a project providing graded versions of the articles in the magazine, rewritten to be more accessible for students learning English as a second or other language. In their own words, it is for:
People learning English – please read, read, read – as many of the articles as you can (and then try reading the original articles – they will seem so much easier and you will learn a lot of new vocabulary and grammar)
Teachers of English around the world – please print off and use our Easier English articles with your students, make use of our teaching ideas, and refer learners to the original articles as follow-up
As with most explanations, I think the best way to show how this works is by example. Today, I got my students to read two articles adapted from the Youth rising issue from October 2012 (link to full articles here). The way this appears on the Easier English Wiki is like this:
On the left, you see standard wiki site navigation, while the content appears in the area just to the right of this. There are links to a number of graded articles, taken from those articles in the main publication that are available online, and for each issue there is also a lesson plan (in PDF and PPT formats). As mentioned above, the idea is for students to read these more accessible articles, as many as possible, and then try reading the originals. But the really cool thing for teachers is that there is a ready prepared lesson for each issue, based on one or two of the adapted articles. For example, take a look at this PDF presentation. As well as tasks encouraging the students to read, giving them a real purpose and a semi-authentic, challenging and interesting text to read, the discussion tasks and other resources (in this case, an infographic), are really pretty cool for the critically minded English language teacher.
For more information, check out the Wiki About page.
I used this particular lesson plan this morning, and discovered the best sound for about 20 to 30 minutes – that of students reading. =)