English as second language

FAQs: English as second language

What enables the Reading Kingdom to teach English as a second language?

Other reading programs concentrate on teaching the sounds of words. That leads them to select words on the basis of their sounds rather than their meaning. For example, a child may see a page of "at" words like "cat, fat, sat" and a page of "en" words like "men, pen, ten." This results in the beginning reader seeing strange sentences such as "Ben bit the belt." For native language users, this is bad, and for non-English speaker, it is terrible.

By contrast, the Reading Kingdom offers meaningful messages right from the outset. Following developmental principles, the program mirrors the way children learn spoken language. By the time a reader has learned only ten words, he or she hears, sees and writes simple but basic phrases such as "this girl," "some kids," "some more kids." The program then moves on to elementary sentences that introduce the basic noun-verb relationships of the language such as "here are some boys," and "they are walking." It then continues to build systematically to complex sentences that are the foundation of the effective use of English.

In all cases, the language is accompanied by graphics and animation that bring the words to life. The animation is not only appealing, but crucial in teaching the meaning of various parts of speech. For example, verbs like "walk," "fix," "cry," and "fall" come to life as characters demonstrate their meanings.

Does the program teach word pronunciation?

Yes! In addition to graphics and animation the Reading Kingdom also provides audio where clear, well-articulated pronunciations are always available to the user. It's like having a very patient, skilled tutor available at each and every point in the program. The Reading Kingdom has been designed so that on almost all the activities, if a word has been forgotten, all the user needs to do is click on the word to hear it spoken. The program also contains 30 stories designed so that they can be both listened to and then read. In other words, accurate English pronunciation of words and sentences is a key part of the program.

Since the instructions are in English, how does one deal with instructions that are not understood?

Using principles of cognitive psychology, the program is designed to systematically offer techniques to prevent and overcome any errors or difficulties that the user may encounter. First, verbal instructions are kept to a minimum. Instead, the visual information has been crafted to cue the viewer into the requirements of the activity. In addition, simplification techniques are offered at all points when the viewer needs assistance.

Can adults use this program to learn English?

Yes. Adults can absolutely use the program to learn English. They can and do benefit from all the features listed above -- the systematic teaching of the structures of the language, the use of graphics and animation to illustrate meaning, the steady availability of correct English pronunciation and the continuous correction of error. Within a few weeks, the advances in mastering the language are clear.

What level of language can be expected by the end of the program?

To get a sense of the language mastery possible, it is useful to see samples of the language in the books as the program advances. For example:

  • In the third level of the program (books 13-18) the reader sees sentences such as: "Most cats like to rest and they rest most of the time."
  • In the fourth level of the program (books 19-24) the reader sees sentences such as: "The moon is a long way from the earth, but it is nearer to us than any other thing in the sky. Have you looked at the moon a lot? You have to do that to see what the moon does."
  • In the fifth level of the program (books 25-30) the reader sees sentences such as: "There was a dog. When people looked at him, they would think he was like any other dog. But he wasn't. Most other dogs have homes. This dog did not. He wanted a home, but no one wanted him."