Tuesday, September 24, 2013


The Purpose
The purpose of this blog is to provide free help to anyone aspiring to improve their reading, writing and to a certain extent, their listening skills. This blog will, by raising the standard of your English, provide valuable assistance in efforts to pass any English proficiency exam as well.
This Blog Is Aimed At
This blog is aimed at teenagers and adults from all walks of life with a variety of interests. The material in each reading file comes under different headings – business, science and technology, psychology and the like – in order to satisfy different interests. The blog material, though mainly designed for self study, can also be used in class.
The Blogger
To find out more about me, check my complete biography.
The Material
All the tasks on this blog are based on material that is easily accessible on the internet. For this reason, there is no beginner level material. Two factors have been taken into consideration in selecting the texts: whether the text has a wow factor and whether it lends itself to questions. It is hoped that you will enjoy using this blog while also becoming more proficient.
Reading: Overview
The reading tasks have been grouped under five headings: level of difficulty * to *****. Level * is early intermediate and is suitable for intermediate students at the start of an intensive course and for pre intermediate students soon after. All the material in each level is listed in a table of contents to make selection easier. For instance, all reading material in the file marked “Level of Difficulty *” is listed in the file titled “Level one reading tasks by theme”.
The Questions
The questions have been designed to help you understand the text by drawing your attention to key points as well as test your comprehension. In doing so, they will help cognitive skills associated with reading to develop and make you competent readers. It is suggested that you read question one and then start reading the text; otherwise, the text will seem too difficult. There are also a wide variety of question types to accustom you to standard tests and encourage detailed comprehension.
The Writing Tasks at the End of Each Worksheet
It is my firm belief that nothing helps commit vocabulary, grammar and structures that have been learnt in a reading task to memory better than a reading related writing task. The writing task serves a second purpose as well: it guarantees that you have understood the text as it is, in essence, your last reading question. With all this in mind, there is no need to tell you how important it is to do the writing task immediately on completing the questions.
The Key
The answers to all the questions are provided with notes where necessary. There are also examples of the writing tasks under sample essays.
Reading Material by Guest Bloggers
This file includes reading material sent in by fellow teachers and I welcome contributions
Writing Material: Overview
All the writing material on the blog is neatly categorized according to the type of writing: advantages and disadvantages essays, argumentative essays, cause and effect essays, classification essays, comparison and contrast essays, definition essays, narratives and other grammar related writing, problem solution essays and response essays. There is also a separate file marked writing exercises which will help with any problems of organization.
How to Prepare for Writing
When you access a writing activity, you will be faced with links to videos and links to reading material concerning a specific issue. You are required to watch the videos, make notes on the texts and then sit down and write your essays. In most cases, there are no points although writing tasks of this sort have also been included.
 Why Reading and Video Related Writing?
Writing cannot exist in a void; it requires opinions and ideas, which in turn require knowledge; hence, the texts and videos. One added bonus is that this is by far the quickest way of learning vocabulary, revising grammar and generally raising the level of your English. The second bonus is that you will be developing your listening skills as well. There is a third bonus: you will be widening your horizons.
Summary Writing
Summary writing is by far the most complex and educationally valuable reading and writing activity. For this reason, there is a file marked summaries where you will find examples of summaries written according to the Cornell Method. This easy way of writing summaries involves making notes on a text and then basing the summary on these notes. You will find the examples on the blog pretty self explanatory. Examples have also been provided for some of the summary tasks linked to reading activities.
Sample Essays
The sample essays and paragraphs have all been written by professionals in the field some of whom, like myself, are native speakers. There are, therefore, no grammar mistakes in the essays unlike certain other material on the internet.
Tips from the Experts
This section involves teaching tips from fellow professionals. I always welcome more so write in if you want to contribute.
The papers, most of which have been published or are waiting to be published, target professionals who are interested in ELT.
Papers by Guest Bloggers
This file includes a paper by a fellow teacher whom I greatly admire but I welcome contributions so write in.
This file includes a list of my published papers and articles.
FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions)
This section covers a variety of issues and targets professionals as well as students.
Letters from the Basement and More Letters from the Basement
This section is just a bit of fun and is completely fictitious.
This file includes feedback I have received from those who have used the blog.
Last of all, for suggestions on how to exploit the material, read ‘The Autonomous language learner at work’ in the file marked ‘How to use this blog’

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