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Wednesday, August 18, 2010

ESL Teacher Blog: E-Readers and ESL Reading

From textbooks and novels to flyers and subtitles, and from newspapers to billboards to reading online - we’ve encouraged our students to read in a variety of formats.
Is reading digitally better than the old-fashioned way? Which type of reading experience do I/my students prefer? How important is the physical nature of the book: the touch, the smell?  Do students and teachers fear adopting the digital format? Are we challenged by the new ebook technology? Could eReaders be the next step (an option at all) in ESL classes?
I finally had a chance to get my hands on an eReader. I’m now a happy owner of the Kobo eReader and just can’t stop reading.
While my personal benefits to owning this particular one are obvious, I think the future ESL schools can greatly benefit from it too. Its best feature is that it comes with a hundred pre-loaded free books (public domain titles, mostly classics). Wouldn’t it be great to have this e-reader available in class for at least every pair of students and read anything from Grimms’ Tales to Mark Twain (no other reader as far as I know offers that option) with everyone literally on the same page (no different hard copy editions)? What a great way to engage students in reading on Friday afternoons, pre-holiday classes (or when other technologies don't cooperate) and not only.
Its other amazing feature is that it can be used to download the ebooks from public libraries. Look for EPUB or ADOBE format ebooks available at Toronto Public Library. No need to buy or head to the library!
Lastly, it’s a  much greener alternative to the monstrous photocopier needs of our classes. Generations of newcomers in our adult ESL schools can benefit from the device.
Other features of Kobo eReader:
- lightweight - around 220 grams (carrying 20 picture dictionaries back to the closet downstairs, anyone?), it's great for storage
- a big reading screen with adjustable fonts
- a large navigator button (find the next/previous chapter, table of contents)
- 1GB memory (loads up to 1000 books)
- long battery life (up to 2 weeks or 8 000 page turns)
bookmarks and turns off automatically (can go back to reading right were it was left off)
- latest items available (bestsellers, award-winners)
- affordable (both the reader and e-books), at around $149 it’s a good investment for those serious about learning English
Bottom line: it’s very convenient and definitely lives up to its logo ‘reading anytime anyplace’.
While a traditional book could be a better choice in some cases, I’m wholeheartedly embracing the new way too. As for my class, we’ll see what future holds. Meanwhile we can have a discussion on the topic and start warming up to the idea.
POSTED BY Olga Galperin AT 9:38 PM
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