February 2014 E-News from Elizabeth Claire
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Contents of this February E-NEWS
to write in easy-to-read EnglishSome people look at Easy English NEWS and think, "It's
easy to read, it must be easy to write." But if you've ever worked
at it, you'll agree, "It's easy to make something difficult. It's
difficult to make something easy."
1. Write out what you want to say in your own natural style.
2. Then go through your document looking for pertinent facts. Cut cut
cut until you are left with only the important and necessary information
your readers need.
3. Arrange your material in an order suitable to your audience.
4. Insert any introductory material or back ground material that newcomers
are likely to need that others take for granted.
5. For intermediate readers of English, rewrite each sentence so it is
in the active mode, not passive. Ideally, a sentence will have one subject
and one verb. It will have no more than one dependent clause, and only
if needed. If you can't avoid a complex sentence, follow it with a short
simple sentence. The lower the level of your reader, the harder you have
to work to make it comprehensible.
6. Choose words that are within the vocabulary of the reader. This is
a gut call, based on years of experience with English language learners
at different ages and levels. Or you could use a word frequency list like
Michael West's http://www.wordfrequency.info/ or http://www.wordfrequency.info/files/entries.pdf...but
that takes many more hours. Plus those are the frequencies of occurrence
in written English...they don't refer to the sequence in which new speakers
of English might pick up such words.
Be alert to idiomatic language. These may seem easy to read, but the
meanings of English's two- or three-word verbs are not clear from each
word:: cut that out, trip up, fall for, run against, run into, run
out of (food), hold over, fall back, keep in mind, figure out, take over,
and 50,000 other idioms.
7. If you need to use words that are not likely to be within your readers'
vocabulary, illustrate them with pictures or define them in words that
are within their vocabulary.
8. Arrange the sentences in short paragraphs.
9. If your document has more than four or five paragraphs, create headings
for groups of paragraphs to alert readers to the content. This also creates
white space, the non-native reader's friend.
10. Design the text in short columns, preferably 2.5 inches to 5 inches
across to reduce eye movement strain.
11. Use a type face and size that is easy on the eyes. Times New Roman
12- to 14-point type works for Easy English NEWS. Younger readers
can benefit from much larger type size...18 point type for age 8, for
12. Justify the left side of the column of text, but leave the right
side "ragged", that is, unjustified. This keeps the spaces between
words and letters uniform and makes it easier for the eyes to move from
one word to the next.
13. Spell check, and then double check with an editor. If you misspell from as form, or him as hem, (or public
as pubic, as many writers have done to their later chagrin) spell
check won't pick those errors up. Enter the corrections carefully.
14. Read it out loud so your ears can pick up any problems your eyes
may have missed.
15. Submit your draft to a reader at the level of your audience to read
out loud and give you feedback. This part is crucial, as writers tend
to write in more and more complex forms when they get no feedback from
their target readers.
16. You can have the readability level checked...A free readability check
is Readability-score.com. Just copy
your text and place it on their page and instantly you will get a variety
of scores. The readability score is probably your best level...keep it
However, the scales used are only applicable to native English speakers,
who will be different from your audience. The scores give readability
based on syllable length and words per sentence. The scores are not valid
for ESL reading levels. Our older readers can read and understand the
word university with no trouble, but may have trouble understanding
a word like fine when it refers to a punishment, or play,
when it refers to a drama or a play on words.
But the words-per-sentence count can help you. Short sentences, with
an average of 8 to 12 words per sentence, raises readability.
The readability check scores do not calculate the ease of reading straightforward
word order vs. complex sentence structure. The latter is tough for English
language learners, so the tests won't alert you to those difficulties.
Nor do they have a mechanism for detecting differences between high-frequency
words and low-frequency words. The words gave and rave are
considered the same in terms of phonetic difficulty, as are here,
mere, and sere. But the English language levels of the words
are quite different.
Contents of Easy English NEWS for February
Front page: The Winter Olympic Games Sochi,
Team USA, sports and NBC coverage.
Shopping for Groceries, Part 5:
Reading labels on package...brand names, contents, sizes, weights,
abbreviations, recipes, prices, unit price, expiration dates
Events in January covered
in Easy English NEWS:
Mariko Sasaki Easy English NEWS' co-founder's contributions
to our newspaper and her persistence in making it continue. Mariko's words
caused 180 editions of Easy English NEWS.
- African-American History Month
- Groundhog Day
- Super Bowl Sunday
- Valentine's Day
- Susan B. Anthony Birthday
- Presidents Day: Washington and Lincoln
- Tax season
in the U.S. part 2: Marijuana
laws are changing
and History: The Right to Vote...for all citizens
With All My Heart: cliches with the word "heart"
regular features: This Is Your Page (readers' stories), Funny
Stuff, Idioms, the Crossword Puzzle, Let's Talk About It, and Word Help.
Click here for a Spring 2014 order form.
Books by Elizabeth Claire:
ESL Phonics for All Ages, Books 1 through 5
ESL Teacher's Activities Kit
ESL Teacher's Holiday Activities Kit
Easy English Crossword Puzzles
Classroom Teacher's ESL Survival Kits # 1 and
Kristina, 1904, the Greenhorn Girl
Easy English Crosswords
Just-A-Minute! Speaking Game
Help Your Buddy Learn English
The Constitution in Simple English: Click Here
Safety in Simple English: Click Here
Other free materials: Click Here
Your Health by Dr. Majid Ali: A reproducible E-Book packet of 31 articles
from past columns of Your Health by Dr. Ali, in Simple English $10.
Treasure Chest 1, a potpourri of reproducible games,
songs, and useful stuff is also $10. Check them out: Click
Got a Kindle
reader? Elizabeth Claire's books on Kindle are available at Amazon.com,
which you can access through my website.
Don't have a kindle? No problem. Amazon will let
you download a free Kindle Reader for your computer or other device.
Prices range from free to 99 cents to $4.99.
here to go to the Amazon Kindle Store at my website
Carry on your good work!
© Elizabeth Claire 2014.