For Teachers

Adapting texts to students’ level

There are a great number of excellent resources online for adapted news articles to give English learners (see News in Levels, BreakingNewsEnglish, or EasyEnglishNews).  However, adapted as they may be, they are still conveniently adapted into a discrete number of levels that are, individually, one-size-fits-all. News in Levels uses 3 distinct levels, while Breaking English News uses up to 5 levels for some texts.

Since teachers can develop a rather intimate knowledge of the limits of their students’ vocabulary after only a few weeks in the classroom, why not use that knowledge to create, a slightly better adapted text for them? I’m convinced it takes just a little more effort.

Of course, that doesn’t mean you can’t have new words in an article you give them (Krashen’s “i+1” theory, the zone of proximal development, and whatnot).

As an example, below is an article about the November 2015 Paris terrorist attacks that I adapted for my beginner-level secondary students several years ago, whose academic vocabulary was limited to pretty much only the words I had taught them that year.  If the article seems distastefully simplified, remember it wasn’t written to appeal to native speakers’ morality, but rather to educate my first-year high school students with barely any academic vocabulary.  There were plenty of ELL-friendly news articles out there, but none were adapted well enough for my particular group of students, for this particular topic.  

If you know your students well, adapt news articles yourself, paying close attention to the vocabulary you choose.

Adapted reading - Paris Attacks

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *