Getting our students listening and understanding

2017-09-20

A couple of weeks ago, I published a short blog on some of the reasons why extensive listening is such a neglected area of TEFL, even though extensive reading is now an area of major interest to academics and teachers.

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The difficulties with practising extensive listening

2017-09-07

In this post, I will start trying to make amends. I will explore why listening is, perhaps, the most neglected skill in the EFL literature. In the next one, I will look at what we can do to bring listening to the forefront of English language learning.

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New reading progress tracking feature

2017-08-15

We’re adding a progress tracking feature to our stories and articles. This is what it does...

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New options for logging in to Read Listen Learn

2017-08-11

We're introducing a new login system that lets everyone choose between using their email address to set up a username and password or to use their Facebook account. Until now we only provided the Facebook option and we know that has been a problem for some people.

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Improved glossary display be released on 11-8-17

2017-08-10

There has been a problem with the display of our glossary definitions sometimes when not all the definitions have 'fitted' into the space available on the page. This happens if there are a lot of them in a short passage of a story or article.

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Richard Wright and the effects of reading on intellectual development

2017-07-27

Richard Wright was an Afro-American author, born in 1908 in deep poverty in the southern states of the US. In his novels, 'Native Son' (published in 1940) and the autobiographical 'Black Boy' (1945), Wright talks about the difficulties of growing up in a racist America as a young black man.

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The answers to last week's quiz

2017-06-12

As promised, here are the answers to the Pre-Intermediate vocabulary quiz we posted last week...

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Pre-Intermediate vocabulary quiz

2017-06-06

Have a go at our vocabulary quiz!

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Reading - The Challenge of Accepting the Unknown

2017-05-24

All too often, our students translate what they read into their mother tongue in order to gain the security that escapes them in the foreign language they are trying to learn. They panic and become disillusioned when they cannot understand unfamiliar vocabulary or grammatical structures and resort to dictionaries or their teachers for clarification (Larsen-Freeman & Long, 1991), thereby losing touch with the overall meaning of the paragraph they are reading. How often, for instance, do we come across definitions written in the margins of second-hand books which end abruptly after three, four or five pages when the language learner seems to have just given up?

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How to get students reading

2017-05-10

This blog post first appeared as the second in a series of two articles written for the Bulgarian English Teachers’ Association. It appears in their March-April e-newsletter, which is available here

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What's coming in our new software

2017-05-09

Last week we had to delay the release of our new software after we encountered some problems with the hosting platform we were running it on. We had to move everything to a new host and have been testing everything there since to make sure it all works properly. We will be releasing everything in the next few days but here's some details of what's new in the meantime.

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Harry Potter - Reading Fiction Makes Us Better Able to Understand Others and Identify with Them

2017-05-02

“Reading is an exercise in empathy; an exercise in walking in someone else’s shoes for a while.”

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New software release planned for 1st May

2017-04-28

Our new software is being set up on our servers and we will be switching all our systems over to it on the 1st May.

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We're updating our software

2017-04-24

In the short term things will look pretty much the same but behind the scenes everything will be different.

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Guest post - 10 effective ways to make students read

2017-04-14

I am Marusya Hristova, an English teacher from Bulgaria, living in England.

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What Not to Do to Get Students Reading

2017-03-29

This blog post first appeared as an article written for the Bulgarian English Teachers’ Association January-February e-newsletter, which is available here

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Writing by hand & reading the printed page - better than keyboards and screens?

2017-03-17

On 18 February this year on the Chilean Teachers of English Facebook page, Arlenne Fer posted five reasons why reading from the printed page might be more useful than from a screen. Three years ago, in Saudi Arabia, a fellow teacher argued long and hard that writing with pen and paper was cognitively more powerful than tapping away at a keyboard.

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Drop Everything and Read

2017-03-13

'Drop Everything And Read' (DEAR, for short), Daily Independent Reading Time (or DIRT) and Sustained Silent Reading (SSR) are actually all describing much the same thing: school programmes which offer students, teachers, administrators, cleaning staff and visiting parents - in other words, literally everybody on the school premises - the chance to stop what they are doing and read. In some schools, this happens daily for anywhere between ten and forty minutes (depending, perhaps, on the ages of the students reading and their attention spans), while in others it might only be once or twice a week.

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How reading and writing changed the lives of gang members in Long Beach, California

2017-03-08

Some of you will have seen the 2007 film starring Hilary Swank, 'Freedom Writers'. It was based on the real-life experiences of a young, untested teacher given a class of bored, anti-social high school students, none of whom had much hope of graduating. Shocked by the racial tensions in the class between members of different gangs, the teacher, Erin Gruwell, bitterly complained that the stereotypes the students used to characterise each other along ethnic lines reminded her of the Holocaust. Nobody knew what she was talking about.

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How does Extensive Reading Develop Critical Thinking?

2017-03-06

For many, many years now, the concept of students taking responsibility for their own language learning has been central to our thinking of how we master a foreign tongue.

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High school remedial reading - teachers are key to success!

2017-03-03

Looking at reading difficulties in students ten years later in their educational careers, The American Diploma Project showed that poor reading skills were a major obstacle for university students who simply could not cope with the complexity of the texts they had to deal with, even though they had passed the exams that got them into the institutions in the first place. To make matters worse, inability to read comfortably was an important reason for these students dropping out of their courses. Slavin et al. found that this affected not only social science and humanities students but also those following courses in maths and physical sciences at high school.

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Improving your vocabulary through extensive reading

2017-02-27

In 1962, Anthony Burgess published a book about the future. It was a dystopian novel because Burgess’ future was a frightening one where young people were extremely violent. The novel was unusual though for another reason. The young man telling the story used English mixed with a dialect that was nonsensical to us. It was called Nadsat and Burgess’ dangerous young storyteller used 241 words from this imagined language to tell his story. On average, he used them fifteen times each.

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Students can help to guide other students on what to read

2017-02-22

I arrived in India some years - no, I'll be honest - many years ago and set about finding good bookshops and, in comparison to where I'd been living for the previous five years, it was paradise. My only problem was that I was unable to decide which authors I should read because, outside the classics and Nobel Prize winners, I hadn't heard of any of them. Of course, I could not trust the reviews on the back covers of their novels as these were so biased. Luckily, I had a friend who was able to offer a few leads and I was soon on my way into the wonderful world of Indian literature.

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What is a reading circle and how is it useful in the classroom?

2017-02-10

Well, it’s a group of students reading a story or an article together and discussing its content and relationship to the world outside before agreeing on how to share their thoughts with the rest of the class (Daniels, 1994).

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Flipped Classrooms: Reading to Enjoy Yourself and to Learn Better English!

2017-01-25

In my last article, 'Context Makes Reading More Interesting and Lessons More Interactive', (linkedin, 11th Jan, 2017), I mentioned 'flipped classrooms'. Since then, I've had quite a number of queries about this method of learning.

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Context makes reading more interesting and lessons more interactive

2017-01-12

Over the course of a long career in teaching – sometimes in schools and universities – I have never ceased to be amazed at teachers forcing classics from English and American literature down the throats of students whose ages and linguistic levels mean they can’t possibly enjoy them. As an avid reader myself, I feel sorry not only for the classrooms of bored students who are forced to stammer through Herman Melville or John Keats, understanding little or nothing of what they are supposed to be ‘appreciating’, but also for the authors themselves who, surely, would be horrified if they could see how their work is being tortured in school and even university curricula by those who should know better.

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How Reading Helps to Improve Students' Writing

2017-01-05

Writing, by contrast, does not. We might want to practise a new structure and that's all to the good but how can we develop a wider repertoire by relying on our own knowledge? Common sense tells us that we need to be exposed to new forms, collocations and words. And that's where reading comes in.

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We're offering free access to our digital graded readers

2016-11-16

We've been working for a little while on making our product freely available to individual teachers and learners. Well now we've done it and we're inviting people to come and use our reading service and our graded readers free of charge with no obligation. We're not asking for any credit card details or anything like that, we just want people to be able to use the readers and let us know what they think.

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New stories and articles for November

2016-11-15

We've been busy since we last posted details of new stories and articles in October. We've welcomed nearly 1,000 students from BRAC University in Bangladesh and we've added some new title and audio recordings to our library.

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Adding comments to stories on Read Listen Learn

2016-11-02

Did you know that you can add comments to stories and articles on Read Listen Learn and that other people reading the same stories can do the same and reply to you? You can also choose to post your comment to your news feed on Facebook where your friends will see it.

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Read Listen Learn welcomes BRAC University in Bangladesh

2016-10-05

We're delighted to be working with BRAC University in Bangladesh who are using Read Listen Learn with students on their Savar Campus.

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New audio on Read Listen Learn

2016-10-04

We've added new audio recordings to a number of titles in the last couple of weeks, here they are...

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More new titles and audio for September

2016-09-26

We've added some new titles and some new audio during September. Hope you like them....! 

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Explore English with Russie

2016-09-12

For those of you who have a good intermediate level of English or higher, there's a new e-magazine put together by a Bulgarian teacher, married and living in the south-east of England and nicknamed Russie. (She got the nickname because her husband couldn't pronounce her real name, Marusya.) She absolutely loves her adopted country and this shows through in her magazine, Explore English with Russie. You can find it at www.englishwithrussie.co.uk If you are only a lover of all things American or Australian, this magazine is not for you though. It's firmly focused on Britain!

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New stories and new audio

2016-09-02

We've been busy over the last week and have added some brand new titles and some new audio to existing stories. They include the gruesome history of the development of anaesthesia and an unusual Dracula short story.

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Let kids read what they want

2016-08-24

This article on reading by Mark Bartholomew one of the founders of www.readlistenlearn.net was published in the new Indian magazine, Parents' World this month....

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New titles on Read Listen Learn

2016-08-19

We've added 6 new titles in recent days. They range from a very short and quite serious story by Tolstoy through a more light hearted piece by Banjo Paterson to the story of Jack the Ripper, a serial killer from 19th century London.

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About a Dog Fight by Banjo Paterson - pre-intermediate graded reader

2016-07-15

Andrew Barton "Banjo" Paterson was born in 1864 on a farm in the ‘outback’, a term Australians use for their wild countryside - this was the setting for many of his stories, songs and poems. He had a woman to teach him at home until he was old enough to ride a horse, when he could travel to school each day. He was good both at his studies and at sports. He later went on to become a lawyer (although he never studied at university).

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The Terrible Old Man by H. P. Lovecraft - pre-intermediate graded reader

2016-07-07

H. P. Lovecraft is well-known for his horror stories although he was never successful while he was alive. In this very short story, he tells us about a strange old sea captain who lives alone and buys everything he needs with old gold coins. But when three thieves visit him one night, they get more than they expect (880 words).

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Using social media in language learning

2016-07-07

One of our team recently took part in a course called 'Understanding Language: Learning and Teaching', which was developed by the University of Southampton and the British Council and hosted on the Futurelearn platform.

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The Story of an Hour by Kate Chopin - pre-intermediate graded reader

2016-07-07

This very short story by the American writer, Kate Chopin, tells us about a young, but sick, married woman, when she believes that her husband’s death in a train accident will allow her to live her own life (800 words).

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Improving your listening skills

2016-07-07

If you are an intermediate learner or have even better English, you might ask yourself what the best ways are to improve your listening skills. So often people learning English get little exposure to native speakers of the language. They are surrounded by teachers who have local accents and make the same mistakes as they do because they are influenced by the same mother tongue. When they come across foreigners, they find it really hard to understand them.

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Finding stories in Read Listen Learn

2016-04-04

We've noticed that people might be having difficulty using the search tool on our find articles page so I thought I'd do a quick post about how to use it. I hope it's helpful.

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Anton Chekhov graded readers on Read Listen learn

2016-02-24

Our mission in the world is to help people to learn English through reading and listening for pleasure. We love books, stories, articles and, well, reading!

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Two new free graded readers on our homepage

2016-01-13

We’ve added 2 new free graded readers to our homepage.....

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New year new focus

2016-01-11

Last year we decided to re-visit our mission, renew our sense of purpose, look again at our product and think about who we're really trying to help.

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Why listen to things that we find easy?

2015-09-15

We'll be progressively adding audio to our stories and articles over the coming months and there's a sample on our homepage in the Elementary article about the Bedouin. Following our recent post about the benefits of reading for lower level learners, here's some thoughts on the benefits of listening for the same group. 

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The benefits of extensive reading for lower level learners

2015-07-15

Reading basic English aloud helps learners to recognise words at a glance. The more they see a word, the faster they recognise it and glean its meaning. So, reading helps low level learners to increase the speed with which they recognise words - if those words are not so hard, of course.

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A simple guide to choosing reading texts with L2 students

2015-06-18

The value of extensive reading lies in reading extensively, by which we mean literally reading a lot. It's easy for teachers to fall into the trap of setting texts for learners to read (when they should let them choose for themselves whilst providing guidance) and encouraging them to 'stretch themselves' by reading something challenging or difficult.

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An illustration of how to use Reading Circles with students

2015-06-04

Our recent post about reading circles generated a lot of interest and so we thought we'd follow up with a suggestion of how to apply the process to a particular text and put together a reading circle in practice.

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What are Reading Circles and how do they work?

2015-05-19

At Read Listen Learn we believe that reading circles can help to encourage EFL and ESOL students to read and to get more from the experience and we're developing resources to work alongside our graded readers with this mind. Here's some background about how Reading Circles developed and how they work.

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From IATEFL 2015 - Extensive Reading and Paul Nation's 4 strands of language learning

2015-04-22

Last week I went to the IATEFL conference in the impressive Manchester Central convention complex.

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Making extensive reading projects work

2015-03-31

There are a number of core principles that underpin extensive reading and successful reading projects. Here are the four that we believe are most important.

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What is Extensive Reading?

2015-03-10

The 5th March was world book day, designated by UNESCO as a worldwide celebration of books and reading, and marked in over 100 countries all over the world.

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When a war stopped for a football match

2014-12-17

This post is taken from our Elementary graded reader about the famous 1914 Christmas truce that took place during the First World War. A war which was known at the time as the War to End All Wars. Of course it did no such thing and in fact sowed the seeds of a number of subsequent deadly conflicts. This story though is about ordinary soldiers playing football instead of shooting at each other.

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The paper versus e-book debate

2014-11-25

There is an ongoing debate about the merits of paper versus ebooks in which some people seem to feel the need to establish an absolute winner at the expense of any merit on the part of the loser. This seems uneccesary given that we can have both paper and ebooks and choose which we use based on their relative merits in particular situations.

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Reading what we like improves our reading skills

2014-11-17

Like many others we believe that reading for pleasure helps EFL and ESOL learners to master English. It almost goes without saying that in order to get pleasure from reading, you need to be reading something that you like.

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The Guardian's Live Q&A: What is the best way to learn a language?

2014-10-30

It was a fascinating two hours (and more) of live debate, much of which was cross posted onto Twitter - see #languagesdebate.

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Reading can help your EFL and ESOL students to learn new vocabulary

2014-10-21

Nobody enjoys learning long lists of words. It is one of the most boring exercises teachers ever ask students to do. But that's not all. It's also one of the least effective ways to enrich our vocabulary. Shockingly, when we think of all the hard work we put into memorising spellings and new words, they go out of our heads days, hours or even minutes after we have learnt them.

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Can we really improve our writing by reading more?

2014-10-01

In fact, there is a lot of research to show that the quantity we write and the quality of our writing are not linked.

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Today's Google doodle remembers Sheridan Le Fanu's 200th birthday - Madam Crowl's Ghost and more coming soon on Read Listen Learn

2014-08-28

Joseph Thomas Sheridan Le Fanu was born 200 years ago today. He was an Irish writer, who is still well-known for mystery novels and short stories about the supernatural. He was the leading ghost-story writer of the nineteenth century and played a central part in the development of the genre during the Victorian era. He wrote a famous vampire story called Carmilla, for instance, 25 years before Bram Stoker wrote Dracula.

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We can help EFL/ESL teachers run extensive reading projects

2014-07-24

In our last post we described the key features of the reading service we're developing to help learners of English as a second language. Here we turn our attention to teachers and the colleges and other organisations that they work for.

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The key features of the reading service that we're building for learners of English as a second language

2014-06-27

We've been running our trial for about a month now and we're really pleased with the results.

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The Lusitania - Elementary reader coming soon on Read Listen Learn

2014-05-02

The sinking of the Lusitania is back in the news in the UK as newly released secret Whitehall files show that the Ministry of Defence warned that "something startling" was going to be found during the August 1982 salvage operation.

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Live trial starts May 2014...

2014-04-23

Next month we're due to start the first trial of our reading and listening service for people learning English with a college in Saudi Arabia. They will be using the product as part of a reading programme and it will involve around 300 students using more than 120 of our articles and adaptations of short stories.

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Pi - Pre Intermediate reader coming soon on Read Listen Learn

2014-03-18

From the first year of secondary school to postgraduate studies at universities around the world, there is nowhere to hide from Π. It is a nightmare for maths-hating teenagers and a never-ending mystery for professors who teach it in the daytime and dream about it at night. Since Archimedes tried to ‘square the circle’ in third century B.C.E. Sicily, at that time a part of the Greek Empire, mathematicians have wondered about this number. Nowadays, supercomputers can calculate Π to 1.4 trillion places, although we only need the first thirty-two digits to work out the size of the universe. So, why does Π continue to excite scientists and bore school kids more than two thousand years after Archimedes first played with the idea of this strange number?

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Bacteria and Viruses - Elementary reader coming soon on Read Listen Learn

2014-03-04

We learn every day at school that human beings are the kings of the planet. It’s just not true! Really, bacteria and viruses are.

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Johannes Gutenberg - coming soon on Readlistenlearn...

2014-03-04

Gutenberg never made any money from this idea. He had a fight with his partners because he was spending too much of their money. They went to court and Gutenberg lost his shop and his printing press. When he died in 1468, almost nobody knew his name.

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The impact of an Extensive Reading project on results and engagement

2014-03-04

Jordan, like so many other Arab nations, has high youth unemployment and there is a realisation among young adults that proficiency in English can offer an escape from years of idling away one's time on street corners. However, this does not translate to high success rates in mastering the language at school. Too often, English is taught as a subject that can be learnt by heart from the prescribed textbooks. The closer the answer in an exam is to the relevant passage in the book, the higher the marks the student will get. It's a story that is typical of the way English is taught in schools and even universities around the world and the Middle East is no exception.

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Oxygen and Revolution - coming soon on Readlistenlearn

2014-03-04

The discovery of oxygen is closely connected with revolution in late eighteenth century France and with two scientists, one British and the other French, both of whom are sometimes called the father of chemistry. They are Joseph Priestley and Antoine-Laurent de Lavoisier. However, in actual fact, neither of them was the first to identify the element. That honour goes to a man called Carl Wilhelm Scheele, a Swede of German origin, whom the sci-fi writer Isaac Asimov called “hard luck Scheele”.

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Coming soon on Readlistenlearn - Clarence Day

2014-03-04

Clarence Day was born in New York City to a wealthy family in 1874. He attended an elite school and Yale University, before joining the US Navy. However, this magical life ended when he developed crippling arthritis while on active duty. He was forced to leave the Navy and remained ill for the rest of his life.

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Charles Dickens - a Christmas biography

2014-03-04

Charles Dickens has become part of Christmas in the UK. His story 'A Christmas Carol' is on TV every year and the character of Scrooge, the ghosts of Christmas and the phrase "Bah humbug!" show no sign of losing their prominence at Christmas in our culture. To mark Christmas we're posting a biography of Dickens that will soon feature in our online library of extensive reading materials for people learning English.

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Learning new words is easier when we read - here's the proof

2014-03-04

In 1962, Anthony Burgess, already a well-known British novelist, published a short book about the future. It was a nightmare novel because Burgess' future was a frightening one where young people were extremely violent.

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Has the Internet made reading less popular or can it help people learning English to read more and get better?

2014-03-04

There seems to be widespread belief, even panic, that reading is no longer as popular as it was before the Internet age and is in terminal decline. This is nothing new. In the 20th century, newspaper journalists wrote article after article telling their readers that, first, cinema and then television would mean the death of reading. They believed that the written word could not compete with moving images. However, although cinemas saw their audiences fall when the TV set entered every home, reading is as popular as it always has been.

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Finding reading resources for people learning English

2014-03-04

About a year and a half ago, I was working in a Saudi university and wanted a wide range of books that students with different levels of ability could use to supplement their learning. There were many difficulties.

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The 1919 Massacre at Amritsar

2014-02-12

On 13th April, there was an important festival of the Sikh religion in the capital of the Punjab, a state in northern India. Here was the most important Sikh temple, the Golden Temple and the Punjab was the centre of the Sikh religion. Thousands came together in a central park, men, women and children.

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Chess

2013-10-09

“A computer once beat me at chess……but I was much better at kick boxing.” Emo Philips

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