Over the past month or so I’ve been working on a big writing project where we are using Graded Readers as a core component of the courses we are designing. This has been both a very interesting experience and a highly frustrating one as well.
I’ve worked on Graded Readers before – mostly writing test sheet and extra activities for them, which in some way defeats part of the objective of extensive reading (which is where many Graded Reader series try to sit!)
The main frustration has been with the lack of consistency between the different publishers. You’ll start looking at things like level and notice that one publisher includes the past tense right from the word go in a Beginner level book, while another won’t put any past forms in until Elementary. You’ll then notice a key indicator of level / difficulty which is the number of headwords. But for a level such as Beginner this can vary from 300 to 700. This then gives you an additional problem as an Elementary level book in one series will have 400 words, but a Beginner level book in another series and have 600 headwords – clearly one person’s Beginner is another person’s … there’s so many ways to finish such a sentence!
Added to this are series where the levels are 1-7, but with no indication what these levels actually mean on the website – nothing pegging them to more traditional Beginner, Intermediate, Advanced etc or even to the CEF. You get hold of copies (often splashing out your own money as the publishers are so slow to respond to requests for a gratis copy) only to find that the level is not appropriate and doesn’t fit in with what you’re doing!
Having said all of that – I’m really enjoying working on the project and the amount of reading I’m doing has really levelled out 🙂