Fifteen Little Stories

by guest blogger, Gregg McNabb

Fifteen Little Stories for English Language Learners is a collection of twelve lighthearted anecdotes such as the habits of two actual mad profs here in Japan, a teenage prank, children's winter on the Canadian prairies, how not to become dog food, plus one sad story, a revised Chinese folktale and a mini biography of two actual female spies. It is written in controlled, but natural English for high beginning to low intermediate young adult learners. I hoped to offer students more personal narratives as opposed to the somewhat artificial readings found in many textbooks.The stories range in length from about 500 to 1500 words, but most are between 700 and 900 words. It is designed as enjoyable supplemental reading or possibly as the first step toward extensive reading.

Here's an excerpt from "Phone calls":

“Does your dad hate me?”
“No, not especially. He dislikes almost everyone.”
“Then why haven’t you been answering the phone these days?”
“Huh? You haven’t called.”
“What are you talking about? I’ve called and called, but no one's answered.”

I was puzzled. We never went out. My sister and I had never been to a restaurant. My dad was too cheap. He said, “What’s the matter with your mother’s cooking? It’s great. So why do you want to insult your mother by eating out?” For us, take-out KFC was a luxury. Yup, we were always at home – shoveling mountains of snow, raking fields of leaves, folding clothes, cleaning our rooms, taking out the garbage, dusting, polishing his shoes , etc. (I'm not exaggerating)

I have encouraged teachers to focus on having students read repeatedly more so than dissecting the text, so I introduced, a nifty site to practice speed reading. That said, there are enough exercises to confirm comprehension and build vocabulary without becoming (I hope) a full-on textbook.


Preview of Between the Keys Vol. 20[1]

Brian Cullen interviews Patrick Jackson in another instalment of Writer's Point. Subtitled "The Un-lonely life of a textbook writer", Cullen and Jackson discuss how technology has changed how writers interface with others in the collaborative process. Cullen's interview is a part of a series that investigate various aspects of materials writing from the point-of-view of the author.

This issue of Between the Keys sees two more series beginning. Jim Smiley presents a series of interviews with the smaller publishers that have a keen interest in Japan. The first is with Fine Line Press, a small publishing house based in New Zealand that focuses on Japan. The other first is a project that aims to survey the theory of materials development from base principles to specific topics that face writers. Written by various authors, in these pages we present the project overview in which the topics of educational philosophy, educational value systems, pedagogic choice and the editing process are outlined.

At the JALT National Conference last November, James Winward-Stuart put together our forum in which the panel gave their views on the future of the publishing industry. Here, Colin Bethel of OUP presents a little blurb on OUP's stance, and David Dolan shares his "Thoughts on Digital Publishing". 

Last September, our SIG cosponsored two JALT chapter events, one in Akita and the other in Morioka. We sent Cameron Romney (now our hallowed leader!) up north, and he presented on typography and design. He has provided us with a report from these meetings.

Jim Smiley ends the issue with a look at the role of typeface in educational design.