EuroCALL 2002, Aug. 14-17

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Building Word Power and Reading Rates with SRA Labs
Adjustments Required for Use with Adult ESL Learners

Science Research Associates (McGraw-Hill) publishes the SRA Reading Labs, which have been used by K-12 teachers for more than 40 years. In response to a query from a teacher in Thailand, via the TESL-L listserv, Houston Community College's Christine Tierney wrote the following remarks on using SRA for adult ESL, which she has contributed as an article for the ESL MiniConference Online.

We have been using SRA cards for several years in our Intensive English Program's reading lab. They serve a purpose, but should be carefully screened.

First, the cards are less useful at the lower levels. Beginning students find them very inaccessible. The very lowest level that we have (1C) contains short stories, some of which are quite juvenile. We start our beginning level in the 2A box.

Second, some of the cards are dated or very culture bound, and many of the exercises on the longer cards, called Power Builders, are of limited use for ESL/EFL students. The Rate Builder cards are shorter and are good for testing reading comprehension. We have also purchased a series on American history that our advanced students enjoy using since they know they have to take history classes in college.

You will have to devise a method for using them that suits your students. The Rate Builders are meant to be timed exercises, and the Power Builders are self-paced. We have made all of them self-paced, but keep vague track of how many cards a student does each lab session. We recommend that our students get 80 percent or higher on three Rate Builder cards in one color and do at least one Power Builder in the same color before moving on to the next color. It seems to work for our students.

By Christine Tierney
Houston Community College

2002 ESL MiniConference Online