Imagine a test where YOU decide the result, not your teacher! Interesting idea?
Well, Oxford University Press is working on just that. Our aim is to give learners of English the chance to find their own reading level… and use it to discover a world of reading opportunities.
The old test
Up to now, we’ve had a popular but fairly standard test. It features a series of gap-fill texts at different levels. The problem is that this really tests your knowledge of grammar and vocabulary rather than your reading fluency. Reading fluency is about how quickly you can read a text (e.g. a page of a story) and comfortably understand most of the words.
The new tool
And this is where we think our new test is better. In fact, it’s so different from what we’ve done before that we’re not calling it a ‘test’ at all. We’re calling it a tool. A tool is something you use to do something or get to where you want to go, like a key or a map.
So how does it work? Simple. It’s what is known as ‘learner-driven’. As a learner of English, you decide whether you know or don’t know the meanings of a series of words in English. If you do, you’ll be shown more difficult words until you reach the right level.
It’s all about fluency
From there, you get to judge your fluency. You decide whether a page of a story at that level is ‘Too easy’, ‘Too difficult’, or ‘OK’. This is called the Goldilocks Principle and comes from the fairy story, Goldilocks and the Three Bears. You probably remember that bit about the porridge!
You can’t fail
The other good thing about Find Your Reading Level is that you can’t fail. You find the right level for you in the same way you choose a new shirt or pair of trousers that fit.
If you’re curious to try then put the new tool to the test. It’s free and takes less than 10 minutes. If you like it, tell us why in the survey at the same link. If you don’t like it, you can tell us why, too!
Oh, and here’s the bonus bit. The American author Mark Twain once said that ‘The man who does not read has no advantage over the man who cannot read’. So in other words, if you can read and don’t, you’re wasting a precious skill. Interestingly, the best-selling OUP ELT Graded Reader is by the same author: The Adventures of Tom Sawyer.
And just while I’ve got you, did you also know that reading literature is good for you in a different way? According to the latest research here, it actually makes you a better human being! You become more empathetic. This means you can understand another person’s feelings and experiences, especially because you have been in a similar situation.
Anyway, thanks for taking the time to read this blog! Now, back to that novel I was so enjoying…
Andrew Dilger is a Managing Editor at Oxford University Press and has been involved in English language teaching for over 25 years. He believes reading regularly in English is one of the best ways to improve all-round language ability. And the research appears to agree with him.