The Axium Reading Lab Project

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‘Reading for Enjoyment’ is an essential part of language development – and something that makes improving language that much more do-able, and fun! But ‘reading for enjoyment’ in your second, possibly third language…? Not necessarily so enjoyable. When you have to learn maths and science, write matric examinations, and give oral presentations in a language you aren’t confident in, it’s demotivating to say the least. Around here English seems more of an obstacle than anything else. It renders talented debaters with incredible perspective and insight unable to get a point across and it continually keeps students on the back foot. What does ‘on the back foot’ even mean anyway? English is certainly not an easy language to learn.

So where do we begin?

Well… We tell students to read more! We have a great selection of books (which we need to grow) in the Ekukhuleni mobile library. But reading a whole book? And understanding what you’ve read? And enjoying the process?

We aren’t convinced this is something accessible to all of the Ekukhuleni students.

Enter… the Reading Lab Project.

We’ve decided that we need to gather, adapt, and write a great selection of writing that’s bite-sized, simply written and enjoyable. The pieces of writing being generated will fit into different difficulty levels, so that students can read pieces at the level they’re comfortable reading, and slowly move up as they choose to. Along with the story they’ll find a glossary of difficult terms, and some comprehension questions that will help them check whether or not they’ve understood the text.

What’s important about this ‘Reading Lab’ – is that it’s a ‘Reading for Enjoyment’ lab. The glossary is just there to help them understand, not so that they can test themselves later. The questions are there for them to check if they ‘got it’ – something to stimulate self-driven language acquisition. The answers will be provided upside down, on the same page.

The bottom line: The aim of this project is to create a great selection of writing that students can read for enjoyment.

Keen to get involved? Here’s how…

  1. Write short, one page stories!
  2. Write non-fiction pieces
  3. Draw illustrations or comics
  4. Format stories
  5. Generate English-Xhosa glossaries

For more information, contact Nathalie at nathalie@axiumeducation.org

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