Friday, 25 September 2009

A Speed Reader with a Library

I'm never really sure what the value of being able to read quickly is and whether this effects the amount of information you actually retain when you read, but I do know that getting EFL and ESL students to read in chunks and getting them to read as much as possible can be very beneficial to their language development.
I've come across quite a few online speed reading sites, but so far I think ReadSpeeder is the best. The interface is quite simply designed and easy to use. It looks just like the kind of controls you would find on a cassette or CD player. ReadSpeeder chunks the text and you can change the speed at which you see the chunks of the text or pause it and just click to got to the next phrase as you read.

The things that make ReadSpeeder special though are:
  • It has its own built in library, so there are loads of classic books that students can get started with straight away.


  • There is also a neat bookmarklet. You drag it to your toolbar, then whenever you get to a web page you want to speed read, you can just click on it and it will be played through ReadSpeeder.
  • If you register you can start adding and saving your own texts simply by cutting and pasting.
  • Perhaps best of all though is that you can access a dedicated mobile site (http://m.readspeeder.com) on i-phone or i-Pod Touch and access your saved books. This is a great feature as students can work alone at home or anywhere else on improving their reading. It's also quite a good way to read on an i-phone as it makes the text bigger.
As I said, I'm not sure if being able to read faster is such a great skill, but this is still a good way to get your students working through texts and trying to understand 'gist' without them stopping to check every word and also a good way to get them seeing text in chunks.
  • You could use it as I said above to get students to read for gist and just see how much of the text they understand after reading through one time.
  • You could use it as a way to get students to revise a text.
  • You could even get students to recite the text as they speed read it and gradually try to improve the speed. You might well have to start very slowly.
  • Some students can find this kind of time challenge motivating and it can encourage them to repeatedly read the same text to improve their speed.
Well, I hope your students enjoy trying ReadSpeeder. It may not be the best tool for every text they read, but it's a good way to add a bit of variety to your reading activities and to give students access to a tool they can use outside of class (if they have an i-Pod or i-Phone).

You can find 35 + online reading activities for EFL ESL students here.

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Nik Peachey

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