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Throughout the first lockdown I had a number of discussions with Marie, an ESOL tutor, about finding quality online resources for ESOL students. One resource that we both value is our Graded Reader collection, and after contacting a number of publishes I found out about the Online Graded ESOL Readers from the OUP. These are 4 collections of 25 online readers, each collection covering different CEFR levels from A1 through to B1. The access and authentication model was new to us – requiring them to be hosted on Moodle as LTIs, and deciding how many licences to purchase. Myself, Marie, and the Senior Librarian Emma then discussed how we could best promote these to students and ensure the collection was used. One of us came up with the idea of online reading groups, led by a Library Assistant and facilitated online using the Teams share screen option. Asif Parvez, one of our Library Assistants, has written the following account of what happened next…
I have taken on three reading groups at present. The first is Entry Level -3 teenage students from the 16- 18 cohort, and the other two groups are more mature learners and have an even mixture of both males and females and a diverse age group. I am using online books via Moodle which have been uploaded by library services onto the moodle facility of Bradford College. There is an incredible range of books from Entry Level-1 to Entry Level-3 and what I find amazing about these online books are that they are very interactive and easy to navigate. And there is an incredible list of old classical novels and many of these relate to the ESOL learners of my groups in terms of folklore and culture. A good example of this can be that for my younger learner group I am doing a novel Ibn Battuta a famous traveller who travelled the world a few centuries ago and is well known amongst Middle Eastern and North African people, and my students for my younger age group are mostly of Arab and North African descent. It makes it interesting for them and encourages them to confidently read from the pages of the book when designated to read a page by myself. Each student takes turns to read a page. And questions are asked from time to time by students about any new word they may come across and what is its meaning.
The online books have very lovely colourful pictures to add to the imagination of the readers and some amazing exercises like word searches, fill in the blank sentences and match a phrase with the part sentences to complete it. Students are really enjoying reading these novels and in some cases are enjoying to create links with novels where their own culture has historic links with certain novels like for Arabs being Ibn Battuta. There are some really interesting murder mystery novels too, and to date I have read with a mature students group Sherlock Holmes: Norwood Mysteries and this has helped given many students learning English as a second language the opportunity to imagine and picture British traditional society and the Police and also the pattern of life and its hardships in the 19th Century. I am currently also reading with groups The Picture of Dorian Grey again a novel that depicts 19th Century Britain and its traditional British Values and also The Secret Garden showing both traditional values of Britain and also giving a glimpse of British Colonial India. Again, the students enjoy making connections based of being related to certain regions of the world and at the same time learning new words and improving their reading and vocabulary.
I feel very rewarded in being given this opportunity which I have taken up voluntarily to help students improving their English reading skills and making a difference in their lives. I currently have three reading groups and am taking on a fourth group which is testament to my commitment to help students and also enjoying to build a strong bond with students and the library to help further their academic skills moving forward for their studies at Bradford College.