Extensive reading and listening - Learning and teaching English - Updates

Changes to free stories on Read Listen Learn


Since we launched Read Listen Learn we have made as much of it as possible available free of charge to help people to use our stories to learn English.

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Native easy reading resources coming soon


We've been talking to Tapto about their software, which presents webpages and ebooks in an easy-to-read format that we believe is great for English language learners.

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Changes to Read Listen Learn during July


We're planning some changes at Read Listen Learn that will take place over the next couple of weeks.

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Comprehension questions and the end of Free June


We made all our stories and features free for June and we hope that everyone who used Read Listen Learn or registered last month enjoyed them.

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All our stories and features are free for June


Over 300 stories, read-aloud and comments are all free for June.

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Points and leaderboard released


We have added a weekly leaderboard showing the top ten readers and listeners. It starts each Monday and is built on points collected as you use Read Listen Learn.

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Sherlock Holmes on Read Listen Learn


Sherlock Holmes was the most famous creation of author Arthur Conan Doyle and his stories are considered important milestones in the field of crime fiction.

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Katherine Mansfield - great author and social rebel


Katherine Mansfield was born in New Zealand in 1888 and did more living in her thirty-four years on earth than most people manage in much longer lives.

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Drop Everything And Read


Drop Everything And Read, DEAR, for short; or Daily Independent Reading Time (or DIRT); or Sustained Silent Reading (SSR), are all terms used to describe a school programme whereby everyone is given the chance to stop what they are doing and read, including teachers and other staff.

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Kate Chopin on Read Listen Learn


Kate Chopin was born in 1851 in the southern US state of Missouri. She took up writing to overcome her depression at the loss of her husband and mother but her views about the freedom of women were too radical for her time and she was not recognised as a serious writer until many years after her death in 1904. She is now acclaimed as a forerunner of many late-20th century feminist writers.

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Lesson Plan for Lucky Lucan - the Lord Who Committed Murder - Intermediate


This lesson plan illustrates ways in which our Intermediate level graded reader Lucky Lucan - the Lord Who Committed Murder can be used with students.

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Points, dashboard and leader boards


We've been working on some new features and will soon be releasing a new dashboard and leader boards.

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Reading improves students' writing skills


It seems strange but increasing the number of writing assignments students complete does not affect the quality of their writing skills very much. Writing more than one essay or letter a week does not seem to offer benefits that match the effort they put into it. By contrast, reading a lot and often does pay off.

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Release of the new version of Explore


The new version of Explore is now ready and will be released to everyone on the 1st January 2021!

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Charles Dickens


Charles Dickens is the best-known novelist in English and, probably, the most famous author in that language after William Shakespeare. Dickens became popular with the publication of his first book in 1837 called ‘The Pickwick Papers’, when he was only twenty-five, and remained a best-selling author throughout his life.

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Points and comprehension questions coming soon


We've been working on some new features....

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New look Explore


We've been working on some new features and the first of these will be launched very soon.

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Lesson Plan for Bacteria and Viruses - Elementary


This lesson plan illustrates ways in which our Elementary level graded reader Bacteria and Viruses: How We Get Diseases can be used with students.

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The Titanic Quiz


We've created a quiz based on our elementary-level story about the Titanic, the famous ship that sank after hitting an iceberg over 100 hundred years ago.

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Reading helps you learn new words


We believe that reading is the best way to acquire a foreign language. But what is the evidence for its usefulness for learning new words? Here are two interesting stories on that subject...

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New fiction on Read Listen Learn


We've been adding new stories recently, including two by authors with a reputation as campaigners for social justice in the 19th century who were also friends.

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Lesson Plan for The Story Teller - Pre-Intermediate


This lesson plan illustrates ways in which our Pre-Intermediate level graded reader The Story Teller by Saki can be used with students.

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How to use Reading Circles with students


This post provides a suggestion of how to set up a Reading Circle using a particular text and describes roles and activities for students.

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Lesson Plan for The Titanic - Elementary


This lesson plan illustrates ways in which our Elementary level graded reader about the Titanic can be used with students.

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New video - O Henry and the Reformation of a Bank Robber


We've added a new video about O Henry and the Reformation of a Bank Robber to our YouTube channel.

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Anton Chekhov on Read Listen Learn


Anton Checkov was a Russian short-story writer and playwright who is considered to be among the greatest writers of short fiction in history.

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Articles about health and medicine


We have quite a few articles about medicine and health so we thought we'd put this list on our blog for easy reference.

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New videos about reading and learning English


We've added two new videos about reading and learning English to our YouTube channel.

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New stories added


We've added five new stories this week, all at Upper Intermediate level, here they are:

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Price reduced for three more months and a new feature


We've added a Comments feature to Premium accounts that enables people to add comments to our stories and to read comments added by others. We will also continue to offer three months of Premium for the price of one until the end of September.

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Read-aloud nearly ready for full release


We're always trying to improve Read Listen Learn and our new feature is nearly ready for full release.

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Elementary level audio readers


If you're at home with children at the moment you might be thinking about helping them to improve their English skills. Here is a selection of our Elementary level titles that are free and OK for children to read and listen to using an adult's account.

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Coronavirus Pandemic Price Reduction


Huge numbers of people across the world are working, learning and having to spend all their time at home during the Pandemic. We've reduced our prices during the crisis to try to help in a small way.

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Free video of our Bacteria and Viruses Elementary level Premium graded reader


Bacteria and Viruses: How We Get Diseases is an elementary level graded reader on Read Listen Learn. It's a Premium title but we've made a free video of it with captions because we thought it might be interesting and useful for people during the Coronavirus pandemic.

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New feature will highlight text on screen as it is read in the audio


We're always trying to improve Read Listen Learn and we're working on a new feature that will highlight text on screen as it is read in the audio.

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Have a look at our YouTube channel


The videos on our YouTube channel now feature subtitles or captions that enable you to read while you watch and listen.

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The benefits of extensive reading for beginner students


Reading basic English aloud helps students to recognise words at a glance. The more they see a word, the faster they recognise it and glean its meaning. So, reading helps low level learners to increase the speed with which they recognise words - if those words are not so hard, of course.

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Refer your friends and get 30 days free if they upgrade


If you use our Referral feature to invite people to sign up for Read Listen Learn, you get 30 days free Premium access for everyone that upgrades and so do they!

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Repeated listening and why it works


We've described the differences between repeated and extensive listening before. Our stories are ideal for repeated listening and we believe that this is a more practically useful method for learners given the difficulty of finding multiple versions of the same thing.

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Reading is the best way to expand vocabulary


Everyone learning a foreign language faces the challenge of learning and retaining new words but learning long lists of words is one of the most boring exercises teachers ever ask students to do. So maybe it’s good news to hear that it's also one of the least effective ways to expand vocabulary.

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Five strategies to aid understanding when listening


People listening to a language that they have not grown up with, face many challenges but understanding spoken language is arguably more much important than it used to be.

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School accounts closing down on the 5th November


We've been experimenting with accounts for schools over the last year or so but have not been adding any new accounts for some time now. We've learnt a lot from doing this and have been building new features based on what we've learnt.

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Making extensive reading projects work


There are a number of core principles that underpin extensive reading and successful reading projects. Here are the four that we believe are most important.

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How to get started with extensive listening


Listening, like reading, is an essential skill for English language learners to develop. More than that though, like extensive reading, listening a lot and often contributes much more to learning English than just developing listening skills.

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The benefits of regular reading


Extensive Reading, basically reading a lot and often, benefits people learning English at all levels from beginners through to more advanced students.

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Extensive and repeated listening


The benefits of listening to stories for English students are very much like the benefits of reading them. If we listen to stories that are easy for us to understand, we build up the speed with which we recognise words as they are spoken. We notice more examples of grammatical forms that we have learnt but have not yet fully mastered.

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What is Extensive Reading?


Learning to read in English is a vital part of learning the language but it also makes a huge contribution to writing skills, vocabulary, spelling, comprehension, fluency and general confidence.

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5 new titles added this week


We've added five new titles this week, here they are:

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Here's a list of the new titles added this month


We didn't include a list of the stories we added this month in our last post, so here it is now:

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20 new titles this month


If you've enjoyed reading stories from our 100 free titles, why not try a Premium account and choose from 270?

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Improved mobile reading experience


We've made significant changes to the reader in our web app to provide a much better reading experience for people using mobile devices.

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Welcome to Heritage School in Bangladesh


We're delighted to welcome Heritage School in Bangladesh.

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The Reader


'The Reader' is a novel published in 1995 by a German law professor, Bernard Schlink, and transformed into an Oscar and BAFTA-winning film, featuring Kate Winslet, in 2008.

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Changes to our privacy policy


We've made some changes to our privacy policy in order to comply with new EU regulations about what personal information we collect, what we do with it and how we enable our readers, listeners, teachers an others to access their information and make changes to it.

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Five Essential Strategies for Understanding


There are many challenges that we face as foreigners listening to a language that we have not grown up with but perhaps just studied in school. In fact, understanding spoken language is much more important these days than it was just twenty years ago for a number of reasons. First, a lot of information on the Internet comes in the form of videos without subtitles, unlike the films and series we used to spend our evenings watching on TV. And then, for students at university, lectures are increasingly given in English, as mastery of the language is seen as essential for better paying jobs after graduation. We therefore now need strategies for coping with listening comprehension more than ever before.

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Listening to what we know: nine tips for student comprehension


Understanding what we hear depends on a number of abilities: being able to decipher sounds and attach meaning to them; interpreting the rhythm of what a speaker is saying, as well as the stress and intonation she puts on certain parts of a sentence; and associating with the context in which a conversation is taking place.

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Extensive listening - why is it important and how to get started


I have commented before in this blog that listening is the skill most neglected by teachers because so few of us really understand how to go about teaching it. All too often, a listening comprehension exercise turns into an assessment one, where the emphasis is on marks rather than enjoyment and understanding.

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Where are we going wrong with teaching reading skills?


Past and Present? – Teaching Techniques

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New on Read Listen Learn - Who Were the Kray Twins?


On 9th March, 1966, in the east of London, the pub was quiet as the evening began. In the corner, there was an old man reading a newspaper, by the door was a young couple. Others sat here and there and, at the bar, there stood a hard-looking man called George Cornell, chatting a little to the barmaid.

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Encouraging upper secondary learners to read extensively


It is a commonplace for teachers and parents to bemoan the fact that students will avoid reading anything they don’t absolutely have to. Yet, there is a wealth of evidence that reading outside the school curriculum leads to better examination results in everything from languages to maths.

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Bottom-up work on decoding sounds in listening exercises


In my last post, I summarised John Field's work on how we process what we hear in a foreign language. The very first step in his schema is decoding sounds, followed by matching these to our prior knowledge of words that contain these sounds or those that approximate to the ones we hear.

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How do we process what we listen to in a foreign language?


In my last couple of blog posts on the ways we teach listening, I talked about how we as teachers generally 'teach' listening skills by playing a recording and then asking a series of comprehension questions.

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Getting our students listening and understanding


A couple of weeks ago, I published a short blog on some of the reasons why extensive listening is such a neglected area of TEFL, even though extensive reading is now an area of major interest to academics and teachers.

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The difficulties with practising extensive listening


Extensive reading has become a hot topic in English language teaching. Over the past ten or more years, eminent academics have published widely and often on the role that reading for pleasure plays in learning a foreign language. Perhaps surprisingly though, very little has been written on extensive listening. Although there are useful tips on listening activities in the classroom, there is very little research on listening outside the classroom as a means of improving our skills in a target language. And Read Listen Learn is as much to blame for this omission as anybody else. Even though we include the word LISTEN in our company name - this is one of very few posts on that skill, while we have published more than twenty on reading over the past few months alone.

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New reading progress tracking feature


We’re adding a progress tracking feature to our stories and articles. This is what it does...

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New options for logging in to Read Listen Learn


We're introducing a new login system that lets everyone choose between using their email address to set up a username and password or to use their Facebook account. Until now we only provided the Facebook option and we know that has been a problem for some people.

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Improved glossary display be released on 11-8-17


There has been a problem with the display of our glossary definitions sometimes when not all the definitions have 'fitted' into the space available on the page. This happens if there are a lot of them in a short passage of a story or article.

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Richard Wright and the effects of reading on intellectual development


Richard Wright was an Afro-American author, born in 1908 in deep poverty in the southern states of the US. In his novels, 'Native Son' (published in 1940) and the autobiographical 'Black Boy' (1945), Wright talks about the difficulties of growing up in a racist America as a young black man.

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The answers to last week's quiz


As promised, here are the answers to the Pre-Intermediate vocabulary quiz we posted last week...

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Pre-Intermediate vocabulary quiz


Have a go at our vocabulary quiz!

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Reading - The Challenge of Accepting the Unknown


All too often, our students translate what they read into their mother tongue in order to gain the security that escapes them in the foreign language they are trying to learn. They panic and become disillusioned when they cannot understand unfamiliar vocabulary or grammatical structures and resort to dictionaries or their teachers for clarification (Larsen-Freeman & Long, 1991), thereby losing touch with the overall meaning of the paragraph they are reading. How often, for instance, do we come across definitions written in the margins of second-hand books which end abruptly after three, four or five pages when the language learner seems to have just given up?

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How to get students reading


'Extensive reading' is the academic term for simply reading a lot and often to enhance and embed second language skills. It is a hot topic these days and there is much debate about the dos and don’ts of assimilating it effectively into university prep courses and school reading programmes.

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What's coming in our new software


Last week we had to delay the release of our new software after we encountered some problems with the hosting platform we were running it on. We had to move everything to a new host and have been testing everything there since to make sure it all works properly. We will be releasing everything in the next few days but here's some details of what's new in the meantime.

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Harry Potter - Reading Fiction Makes Us Better Able to Understand Others and Identify with Them


The past year has seen – for me, at least – some very disappointing setbacks to the growth of tolerance in much of the world. Why do people vote for politicians who espouse callousness and cruelty at the same time as denigrating other faiths, ethnicities and lifestyles? What can we, as teachers, do to offer an alternative perspective that embraces diversity and understanding? I believe that reading offers a partial solution.

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New software release 1st May at 11:00pm BST (UTC+1)


We will be releasing the new version of our software around 11:00pm BST (UTC+1) today (1st May).

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New software release planned for 1st May


Our new software is being set up on our servers and we will be switching all our systems over to it on the 1st May.

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We're updating our software


We're replacing the software that runs our website and application in preparation for some exciting new developments planned for this year.

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New software release update


We recently posted the news that we're updating our software and will be implementing it soon.

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Guest post - 10 effective ways to make students read


Having fun while reading - It’s possible!

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What Not to Do to Get Students Reading


This blog post first appeared as an article written for the Bulgarian English Teachers’ Association January-February e-newsletter, which is available here

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Writing by hand & reading the printed page - better than keyboards and screens?


On 18 February this year on the Chilean Teachers of English Facebook page, Arlenne Fer posted five reasons why reading from the printed page might be more useful than from a screen. Three years ago, in Saudi Arabia, a fellow teacher argued long and hard that writing with pen and paper was cognitively more powerful than tapping away at a keyboard.

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How reading and writing changed the lives of gang members in Long Beach, California


Some of you will have seen the 2007 film starring Hilary Swank, 'Freedom Writers'. It was based on the real-life experiences of a young, untested teacher given a class of bored, anti-social high school students, none of whom had much hope of graduating. Shocked by the racial tensions in the class between members of different gangs, the teacher, Erin Gruwell, bitterly complained that the stereotypes the students used to characterise each other along ethnic lines reminded her of the Holocaust. Nobody knew what she was talking about.

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How does Extensive Reading Develop Critical Thinking?


For many, many years now, the concept of students taking responsibility for their own language learning has been central to our thinking of how we master a foreign tongue.

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High school remedial reading - teachers are key to success!


In the USA, the most developed country in the world but one with hugely disappointing disparities between the haves and the have-nots, six million high school students were estimated to have reading skills significantly below their grade level (Joftus & Maddox-Dolan, 2003). Of course, this has its effects on students' career aspirations, the likelihood of leaving school with a diploma or - if they make it that far - high levels of achievement at university.

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Improving your vocabulary through extensive reading


About a year ago, my UK-based partner, Simon Dalton, and I made Read Listen Learn available for students to improve their reading and listening skills in English. It offers (young) adult students a variety of texts - both short stories and non-fiction articles - adapted to their linguistic levels. We also hope that it is very easy to use. We made the site because we believe that reading is the best way to acquire a foreign language. But what's the evidence for this?

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Students can help to guide other students on what to read


I arrived in India some years - no, I'll be honest - many years ago and set about finding good bookshops and, in comparison to where I'd been living for the previous five years, it was paradise. My only problem was that I was unable to decide which authors I should read because, outside the classics and Nobel Prize winners, I hadn't heard of any of them. Of course, I could not trust the reviews on the back covers of their novels as these were so biased. Luckily, I had a friend who was able to offer a few leads and I was soon on my way into the wonderful world of Indian literature.

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What is a reading circle and how is it useful in the classroom?


Well, it’s a group of students reading a story or an article together and discussing its content and relationship to the world outside before agreeing on how to share their thoughts with the rest of the class. (Daniels, 1994)

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Flipped Classrooms: Reading to Enjoy Yourself and to Learn Better English!


In my last article, 'Context Makes Reading More Interesting and Lessons More Interactive', (linkedin, 11th Jan, 2017), I mentioned 'flipped classrooms'. Since then, I've had quite a number of queries about this method of learning.

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Context makes reading more interesting and lessons more interactive


Over the course of a long career in teaching – sometimes in schools and universities – I have never ceased to be amazed at teachers forcing classics from English and American literature down the throats of students whose ages and linguistic levels mean they can’t possibly enjoy them. As an avid reader myself, I feel sorry not only for the classrooms of bored students who are forced to stammer through Herman Melville or John Keats, understanding little or nothing of what they are supposed to be ‘appreciating’, but also for the authors themselves who, surely, would be horrified if they could see how their work is being tortured in school and even university curricula by those who should know better.

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Interview with Mark Bartholomew for Teacher to Teacherpreneur


This is a copy of an interview Patrice Palmer did with Mark Bartholomew. You can read the original interview here and there is more information about Patrice and the work she does at the end of the interview.

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We're offering free access to our digital graded readers


We've been working for a little while on making our product freely available to individual teachers and learners. Well now we've done it and we're inviting people to come and use our reading service and our graded readers free of charge with no obligation. We're not asking for any credit card details or anything like that, we just want people to be able to use the readers and let us know what they think.

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New stories and articles for November


We've been busy since we last posted details of new stories and articles in October. We've welcomed nearly 1,000 students from BRAC University in Bangladesh and we've added some new title and audio recordings to our library.

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Read Listen Learn welcomes BRAC University in Bangladesh


We're delighted to be working with BRAC University in Bangladesh who are using Read Listen Learn with students on their Savar Campus.

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New audio on Read Listen Learn


We've added new audio recordings to a number of titles in the last couple of weeks, here they are...

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More new titles and audio for September


We've added some new titles and some new audio during September. Hope you like them....! 

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Explore English with Russie


For those of you who have a good intermediate level of English or higher, there's a new e-magazine put together by a Bulgarian teacher, married and living in the south-east of England and nicknamed Russie. (She got the nickname because her husband couldn't pronounce her real name, Marusya.) She absolutely loves her adopted country and this shows through in her magazine, Explore English with Russie. You can find it at www.englishwithrussie.co.uk If you are only a lover of all things American or Australian, this magazine is not for you though. It's firmly focused on Britain!

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New stories and new audio


We've been busy over the last week and have added some brand new titles and some new audio to existing stories. They include the gruesome history of the development of anaesthesia and an unusual Dracula short story.

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Let kids read what they want


This article on reading by Mark Bartholomew one of the founders of www.readlistenlearn.net was published in the new Indian magazine, Parents' World this month....

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New titles on Read Listen Learn


We've added 6 new titles in recent days. They range from a very short and quite serious story by Tolstoy through a more light hearted piece by Banjo Paterson to the story of Jack the Ripper, a serial killer from 19th century London.

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New stories on Read Listen Learn


We've added some great new articles and short stories to Read Listen Learn over the past week or so. There's a mixture of fiction and non-fiction titles including a classic ghost story and the history of the 'number' zero.

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About a Dog Fight by Banjo Paterson - pre-intermediate graded reader


Dog fighting has been against the law for many, many years in most parts of the world. We prefer to keep our dogs with us by the fire or running in the park. Paterson’s story tells a very different tale though. He describes to us why it’s as natural for dogs to fight as it is for men to box.

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Using social media in language learning


One of our team recently took part in a course called 'Understanding Language: Learning and Teaching', which was developed by the University of Southampton and the British Council and hosted on the Futurelearn platform.

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The Terrible Old Man by H. P. Lovecraft - pre-intermediate graded reader


H. P. Lovecraft is well-known for his horror stories although he was never successful while he was alive. In this very short story, he tells us about a strange old sea captain who lives alone and buys everything he needs with old gold coins. But when three thieves visit him one night, they get more than they expect (880 words).

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The Story of an Hour by Kate Chopin - pre-intermediate graded reader


This very short story by the American writer, Kate Chopin, tells us about a young, but sick, married woman, when she believes that her husband’s death in a train accident will allow her to live her own life (800 words).

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Improving your listening skills


If you are an intermediate learner or have even better English, you might ask yourself what the best ways are to improve your listening skills. So often people learning English get little exposure to native speakers of the language. They are surrounded by teachers who have local accents and make the same mistakes as they do because they are influenced by the same mother tongue. When they come across foreigners, they find it really hard to understand them.

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Why listen to things that we find easy?


We'll be progressively adding audio to our stories and articles over the coming months and there's a sample on our homepage in the Elementary article about the Bedouin. Following our recent post about the benefits of reading for lower level learners, here's some thoughts on the benefits of listening for the same group. 

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The benefits of extensive reading for lower level learners


<pThe research into extensive reading suggests that those students who benefit most have at least pre-intermediate level English. There is more doubt about the advantages that extensive reading offers to lower level learners. We at Read Listen Learn are firm believers in the importance of reading even at beginner level though. Here’s why?</p>

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A simple guide to choosing reading texts with L2 students


The value of extensive reading lies in reading extensively, by which we mean literally reading a lot. It's easy for teachers to fall into the trap of setting texts for learners to read (when they should let them choose for themselves whilst providing guidance) and encouraging them to 'stretch themselves' by reading something challenging or difficult.

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What are Reading Circles and how do they work?


At Read Listen Learn we believe that reading circles can help to encourage EFL and ESOL students to read and to get more from the experience. Here's some background about how they developed and how they work.

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From IATEFL 2015 - Extensive Reading and Paul Nation's 4 strands of language learning


Last week I went to the IATEFL conference in the impressive Manchester Central convention complex.

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When a war stopped for a football match


This post is taken from our Elementary graded reader about the famous 1914 Christmas truce that took place during the First World War. A war which was known at the time as the War to End All Wars. Of course it did no such thing and in fact sowed the seeds of a number of subsequent deadly conflicts. This story though is about ordinary soldiers playing football instead of shooting at each other.

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The paper versus e-book debate


There is an ongoing debate about the merits of paper versus ebooks in which some people seem to feel the need to establish an absolute winner at the expense of any merit on the part of the loser. This seems uneccesary given that we can have both paper and ebooks and choose which we use based on their relative merits in particular situations.

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Reading what we like improves our reading skills


Like many others we believe that reading for pleasure helps EFL and ESOL learners to master English. It almost goes without saying that in order to get pleasure from reading, you need to be reading something that you like.

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The Guardian's Live Q&A: What is the best way to learn a language?


Last week we took part in The Guardian's Live Q&A: What is the best way to learn a language?

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Reading can help your EFL and ESOL students to learn new vocabulary


Nobody enjoys learning long lists of words. It is one of the most boring exercises teachers ever ask students to do. But that's not all. It's also one of the least effective ways to enrich our vocabulary. Shockingly, when we think of all the hard work we put into memorising spellings and new words, they go out of our heads days, hours or even minutes after we have learnt them.

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Can we really improve our writing by reading more?


Do you want your EFL and ESOL students to write well? Many people think that learning to write well is like learning to swim faster or to speak better English. In other words, they believe that writing better means writing more and writing more often.

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Today's Google doodle remembers Sheridan Le Fanu's 200th birthday


Joseph Thomas Sheridan Le Fanu was born 200 years ago today. He was an Irish writer, who is still well-known for mystery novels and short stories about the supernatural. He was the leading ghost-story writer of the nineteenth century and played a central part in the development of the genre during the Victorian era. He wrote a famous vampire story called Carmilla, for instance, 25 years before Bram Stoker wrote Dracula.

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The key features of the reading service that we're building for learners of English as a second language


We've been running our trial for about a month now and we're really pleased with the results.

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The Lusitania - Elementary reader coming soon on Read Listen Learn


The sinking of the Lusitania is back in the news in the UK as newly released secret Whitehall files show that the Ministry of Defence warned that "something startling" was going to be found during the August 1982 salvage operation.

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Pi - Pre Intermediate reader coming soon on Read Listen Learn


From the first year of secondary school to postgraduate studies at universities around the world, there is nowhere to hide from Π. It is a nightmare for maths-hating teenagers and a never-ending mystery for professors who teach it in the daytime and dream about it at night. Since Archimedes tried to ‘square the circle’ in third century B.C.E. Sicily, at that time a part of the Greek Empire, mathematicians have wondered about this number. Nowadays, supercomputers can calculate Π to 1.4 trillion places, although we only need the first thirty-two digits to work out the size of the universe. So, why does Π continue to excite scientists and bore school kids more than two thousand years after Archimedes first played with the idea of this strange number?

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The impact of an Extensive Reading project on results and engagement


Jordan, like so many other Arab nations, has high youth unemployment and there is a realisation among young adults that proficiency in English can offer an escape from years of idling away one's time on street corners. However, this does not translate to high success rates in mastering the language at school. Too often, English is taught as a subject that can be learnt by heart from the prescribed textbooks. The closer the answer in an exam is to the relevant passage in the book, the higher the marks the student will get. It's a story that is typical of the way English is taught in schools and even universities around the world and the Middle East is no exception.

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Oxygen and Revolution - coming soon on Readlistenlearn


The discovery of oxygen is closely connected with revolution in late eighteenth century France and with two scientists, one British and the other French, both of whom are sometimes called the father of chemistry. They are Joseph Priestley and Antoine-Laurent de Lavoisier. However, in actual fact, neither of them was the first to identify the element. That honour goes to a man called Carl Wilhelm Scheele, a Swede of German origin, whom the sci-fi writer Isaac Asimov called “hard luck Scheele”.

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Johannes Gutenberg - coming soon on Readlistenlearn...


Between 1440 and 1450 in Germany, Johannes Gutenberg was working on making movable type or metal letters that he could organise to make words and, later, use again in different words. He was also busy making a new ink with oil. This ink was clear to read and stayed dark on the page for years and years and years. He invented a printing press too. This was a machine that could push the words and sentences he made from metal letters onto a page. When he put these three ideas together, he had a fast, easy and cheap way to make books. Before Gutenberg’s invention, the only way to make a book was to copy it by hand. It was expensive because not very many people could write and it took months or years to make a new copy. After Gutenberg, people could buy books at shops.

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Has the Internet made reading less popular or can it help people learning English to read more and get better?


There seems to be widespread belief, even panic, that reading is no longer as popular as it was before the Internet age and is in terminal decline. This is nothing new. In the 20th century, newspaper journalists wrote article after article telling their readers that, first, cinema and then television would mean the death of reading. They believed that the written word could not compete with moving images. However, although cinemas saw their audiences fall when the TV set entered every home, reading is as popular as it always has been.

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Finding reading resources for people learning English


About a year and a half ago, I was working in a Saudi university and wanted a wide range of books that students with different levels of ability could use to supplement their learning. There were many difficulties.

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Coming soon on Readlistenlearn - Clarence Day


"The world of books is the most remarkable creation of man. Nothing else that he builds ever lasts. Monuments fall, nations perish, civilizations grow old and die out; and, after an era of darkness, new races build others. But in the world of books are volumes that have seen this happen again and again, and yet live on, still young, still as fresh as the day they were written, still telling men's hearts of the hearts of men centuries dead."

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Bacteria and Viruses - Elementary reader coming soon on Read Listen Learn


We learn every day at school that human beings are the kings of the planet. It’s just not true! Really, bacteria and viruses are.

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The 1919 Massacre at Amritsar


It was April, 1919, and India was still a part – perhaps, the most important part – of the British Empire. Mahatma Gandhi, a local freedom fighter, helped the British in the First World War. He asked Indians to fight in the British Army in Europe. Tens of thousands of Indian boys died far away from their homes and families. A million British soldiers died too. Every family lost a son or a brother or a husband. The Indians hoped that the British were going to thank them by giving them more rights. They were wrong.

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“A computer once beat me at chess……but I was much better at kick boxing.” Emo Philips

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