ReadOasis: So here we are with Dr. Paul Nation, Professor Emeritus at the University of Wellington, Victoria (New Zealand). And of course one of the most well-known linguists in the world. It’s an honor to have him.
Just one quick question for our learners: How can extensive graded reading help you, help a student with their vocabulary learning?
Dr. Nation: One of the really hard things when you read a book is that it contains lots of vocabulary which will be outside your knowledge. And the biggest thing that graded readers do for vocabulary is to get rid of the more useless words which would be outside your knowledge at the present time.
In any book, about half the words will only occur once, and many of those words will not be useful words to know at early levels of proficiency. So the biggest effect of graded readers is to get rid of those words that you are going to meet only once and not have a chance to learn, but allow you then to read the book and learn more useful words, which are in there.
And so that’s the second effect of graded readers. That is, graded readers give you a chance to learn the really useful words. But in terms of importance, the first factor is getting rid of the useless words so that you can concentrate on the more useful words.
ReadOasis: More important words first.
Dr. Nation: Yeah. And graded readers do a great job on this because each time a word occurs in a graded reader, it occurs in a slightly different context from how it occurred before. And we know that this really helps learning. If you just see the same context over and over again, it’s not as good as meeting it in a slightly different or rather different context. And now studies of graded readers have shown that graded readers do this brilliantly. Each time the word occurs again, it’s slightly different from how it was met before. This really helps things stick in your brain.
ReadOasis: That is excellent! Thank you so much.
Dr. Nation: My pleasure.