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Extended Reading: One way to improve your English

I’m a big believer in extended reading because of its effectiveness in improving students’ proficiency in English. Like “Goldilocks and the Three Bears,” reading books that are too hard or too easy is less useful than reading books that are just right. One way to find a just-right book is to read the second page and count the number of words you don’t know. If there are more than five unknown words, the book is too difficult.

Adapted Readers

Many publishers, such as Oxford University Press,  print adapted readers that are perfect for extended reading. I particularly like the  Oxford Bookworm series To start, you need to find your level. Oxford has produced a level test that you can access here.  Begin with the starter test. If you get 80% or higher then progress to Level 1. Continue until you no longer are able to get 80% correct. Once you find your level, then simply choose one of their many titles available at your level. Check OUP website for ideas. You can buy the book from OUP or another website such as If searching on another site like Amazon,  use either the ISBN number of the book or the title (along with Oxford Bookworm and the level of the book). Many of the books are available in digital format as well as paperback.

How to use extended reading books

To help you learn how to use these books, I’ll be taking you through a Level 4 book, Gulliver’s Travels. If you’re close to a level four and interested in participating, buy the book. You can find the digital version here. Before you start reading, though, let me give you some background on this classic English novel written by Jonathan Swift.

About Gulliver’s Travels

Gulliver’s Travels was completed in 1726 by Jonathan Swift, an Irish pastor and writer. Swift had extensive experience not only as a clergyman but also as a secretary to politicians at the time. Being Irish, he had strong opinions about the English and European countries and incorporates these views in his work. Swift uses a type of humor called satire as a way to show the faults of these countries. Swift is commenting on both the politics of the day and on human nature. At the time of writing, travel writing was a popular genre. Swift pokes fun at this genre by using the form to write a fantastical story. Jonathan Swift’s novel has become an English classic and has also become the subject of movies as well. More on that later. For now, start reading chapters 1-3. Next week, we’ll review.




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