Finding level appropriate reading material can be difficult for English language teachers. There are a few sites out there that provide material at various levels, but most of those are targeted at children or teens and are meant for people who speak English as their first language. There are always coursebooks and graded readers, but they aren’t current and not always what you are looking for.
Over the years, I have been adapting authentic reading material for my students which can be time consuming, but I’ve been selective in choosing material that can be reused again. I also have gotten better at locating things that need changing in the text, speeding up the process to something that is more manageable.
In the past, I’ve used been using Frequency Level Checker with a good deal of success. I’ve even had my TESL students adapt texts that they then use in their practicum classes. Frequency Level Checker is a decent tool, but it has its limitations.
Recently, I’ve started using The Online Graded Text Editor together with Frequency Level Checker to give me data that I can then use in helping me adapt my texts. Here is an overview of The Online Graded Text Editor along with some tips from how I use it.
- Find a text you would like to adapt. I’ve chosen this from the Metro News as an example: “Updated privacy policies after Facebook scandal leave room for improvement”
- Copy the URL from the article you would like to adapt and then go to Textise.net and paste the URL in the box and click on Textise.
- A text-only version of your text will now appear. Copy the story text only. Don’t copy authors, copyright, captions, or any other text that shouldn’t be evaluated.
- Go to The Online Graded Text Editor and paste your text into the empty box.
- Click on the dropdown menu next to Select Wordlist and choose the wordlist you would like to use. For this example, we will use CEFR-A1-B2.
- Click on the dropdown menu next to Select Level and choose your level. For this text, I will use B2. [Note: this menu changes depending on the wordlist you chose]
- Click on Go! and wait for your text to be analyzed. After a while, you text will appear with coloured words and lists on the side.
- At the bottom of the page, you will get a level analysis. I try to find texts that are as close to 95% under Coverage as possible. If it around 90%, I know I can adapt it. If it is lower than that, it is likely the text is just too difficult to adapt for that level.
- I then go through the text and make changes, clicking on Go! every so often to see how things are progressing. Once I have it adapted here, I then click on Export Text to keep a hard copy on my computer.
- Remember to add the copyright information, authors, and original link back to the text. I also add a line stating that the text has been adapted by me.
- Add images to the text once you are done. They can be from the original article (with proper captions and copyright info) or from another source. This always helps the readers get some context.
- Don’t forget to check for idioms that might not show up with the analysis. An example from the above text that didn’t show up was the phrase “In the wake of”. I sometimes leave these in with some support, or I will simply change them. In this case, I changed it to “After finding out about”.
- Watch for difficult sentence structures. These texts were written for native speakers and can be awkward for language learners. You may find it good to limit the number of compound-complex sentences or things like that.
- Don’t change everything. This should be a learning experience as well, but keep that difficulty level as close to 95%+ as possible.
- I typically run the adapted text through the Frequency Level Checker afterward to see if I’ve missed anything.
- Don’t be afraid to chop out whole sections if they don’t change the rest of the text. Sometimes less is more.
Let me know if you have any comments or questions. Thanks!