Macmillan Readers help improve reading and listening skills

Textbooks of reading material, or readers, improve reading and listening skills, especially when accompanied by the recording of the written material. This text is short overview of the listening problems, with the explanation why texts with recorded narration are useful. In addition, we will describe Macmillan Readers Series.

Listening problems in EFL

What are the problems regarding listening in language acquisition? We will use the list from an article Barriers to Acquiring Listening Strategies which states that major listening problems are:

  1. Lack of control over the speed at which speakers speak ,
  2. not being able to get things repeated,
  3. the listener’s limited vocabulary,
  4. failure to recognize the “signals,”
  5. problems of interpretation,
  6. inability to concentrate, and
  7. established learning habits.

Benefits of using Reader and recorded narration

By using reading materials and recorded narration, learners can address some of the problems. For example, the learners can gradually train themselves to read faster, they can repeat the recording when they like and as often as they like. Further, learners are not under pressure to know unknown words, as they can at their own time work on the text and then again on the listening.

A CD accompanying Macmillan Reader

The listening material is very important in dealing with the proper pronunciation, stress, accent and sentence rhythm. This is great way to acquire pronunciation, especially if learners can record themselves and then compare their own reading with the narration on the CD.

Introducing Macmillan Readers Series

Without any wish to promote it as the best available, we will in short describe Macmillan Readers series. The series consists of booklets with CD that contains recorded material spoken by professional actors. It is published at six levels, and each level has structure and vocabulary that suits learners’ ability. More difficult words are explained within text, or shown in the pictures. According to the publisher, the texts are “retold versions of popular classic and contemporary titles as well as specially written stories.”

Back of the book indicating a level
Back cover of the book indicating a level

The number of words is different at each level:

Starter, about 300 basic words
Beginner, 600;
Elementary, 1100;
Pre-intermediate, 1400;
Intermediate, 1600 and
Upper, about 2200 basic words.

The readers contain a glossary and comprehension exercises as well. You can visit Macmillan Readers
on a bookstore site for further information. Feel free to suggest similar products in the comments bellow.

Are your language errors fossilized?

Your language slips may be relics from the beginning stages of your learning, lurking like some ancient fossils. Have no fear, because language science has an explanation. Fossilized errors are quite common: they are incorrect forms that you have learned, if native speaker, probably as a child, or, if English is your foreign language, during the language acquisition.

To illustrate one fossilized error, I will give you an example from my beginning stages of learning English. I (wrongly, mind you!) memorized that in order to make Past Simple question one uses “Did + participle”. Instead of the infinitive, of course. That became my automated process for making the questions, and I managed to go unnoticed (it was a big class) until we had a test consisting entirely of Simple Past. Well, you might imagine the result.

“Fossilized error” is common in EFL (English as a Foreign Language) studies because it helps address the problem of errors, that is, mistakes that learners make without being aware of the possible correct form. Wolfgang Klein in Second Language Acquisition mentions some of the reasons related to the pronunciation. As summarized by Klein, and considerably simplified by the author of this blog:

  1. People may simply stop improving because they feel they do not need to know more in order to communicate.
  2. Learners feel they will lose their identity if they master the language too much and thus become different from their social environment.
  3. Chances for successful language acquisition differ from learner to learner, in terms of critical period for language acquisition.
  4. Learners are not in such surroundings that stimulate improvement by noticing differences in the level of language proficiency between speakers.

Next time you are corrected because of your bad spelling or grammar, ask yourself if you constantly make that mistake; the label for the mistake might be “error”, or precisely, fossilized error. Correcting such an error is, very often, demanding task. Nonetheless, it is possible to, if not correct it in short time, become aware of the problem. Excellent approach to this issue is “drilling“, an activity in which the aim is to create automatic, habitual answer by working on activities that require precision, predictable answers and, above all, repetition.

What mistakes do you make in your mother tongue, and what in foreign language? How do you cope with your errors?

Buy on Amazon: Second Language Acquisition by Wolfgang Klein.