Choose the right graded readers for your course

Research shows that the more students read in English, the more proficient they become. Reading can significantly improve students’ level in all four skills: reading, writing, listening, and speaking. It can also result in big improvements in the use of grammar and vocabulary. An effective way of engaging your students with reading is by using graded readers alongside your coursebook.

Graded readers or 'readers' are books that have had the language level simplified to help second language learners read them. The language is graded for vocabulary, complexity of grammar structures and also by the number of words.

Here are some top tips on how to integrate Graded Readers into your course.

Top tips for integrating Graded Readers into your course

Decide whether your objective is to use a graded reader alongside your coursebook for intensive reading, extensive reading, or a combination of both.

Intensive reading aims to build more language knowledge.

  • You may want to focus on sections of a graded reader in class – highlighting grammatical structures and vocabulary which students first encountered in their coursebook. This ‘careful reading’ will consolidate work done in the coursebook.
  • Try doing it for 10 minutes at the end of each lesson, or at least 2–3 times per week. In this way, it will also give students a break from the coursebook. You can use Graded Readers as print books which students have with them, or ‘toggle’ between e-book versions of the coursebook and the graded reader on a device.

Extensive reading aims to build reading fluency and reading confidence.

  • It is best to ask students to do this after the lesson as self-study or at home when they have more time. They should try to read as often as they can – preferably developing a daily habit.
  • Students should focus on aspects of the story: characters, topics, ideas. In this way, a graded reader can complement work done in the coursebook and provide opportunities for critical thinking and creative follow-up work. During extensive reading, it is less important for students to focus on language structures and vocabulary covered in the coursebook, but they will probably notice them anyway.

For a combination of both intensive and extensive reading remember to be clear which kind of reading you are practising at which stage.

  • Intensive reading can be done as self-study or at home, but it will require students to have more autonomy than they may be used to in class.
  • Likewise, extensive reading can be done in class, but it will require more time and the right reading conditions (usually silence!) to be most effective.