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 Spreeder.com, 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.