Using “Longman Academic Reading Series 4: Reading Skills for College”
Masumi Igarashi Ph.D., Lecturer, Language Education Center, Okayama University
I used Reading Skills for College from the Longman Academic Reading series in 2015 in my reading class for sophomores. I think this book efficiently teaches university students academic reading skills they need in their studies. Unlike online articles and emails found in general Reading textbooks which are still engaging and enjoyable for the students but not necessarily academic enough, the excerpts in this book are from an eclectic selection of literature written by scholars, philosophers and artists such as Margaret Mead, Susan Sontag, Leo Tolstoy, Eric Kandel, Jared Diamond, E.M.Forster, Sigmund Freud, Stephen Jay Gould, Amitav Ghosh, and Hannah Arendt — the kind of texts that are more suitable for undergraduates because they would need such reading experiences in their general education course anyway.
There are a few reasons why I think this book is beneficial for the students:
Firstly, most of the original books have been translated and published in Japanese and the students will surely come across these writers through the general education course or in their majors sooner or later. If they have read some of these books before my reading class, they are already familiar with the authors and the book content, which would encourage them to read further in English. Even if they don’t encounter these books until a few years after the class, they would still recognize the authors and will be more interested than seeing them for the first time. Connecting dots in such ways can be a great catalyst for intellectual activities in higher education.
Secondly, some of the excerpts are written by non-native speakers of English or good-quality English translation of the original books, which I think is a fantastic aspect of this textbook. In my opinion, limiting the reading materials to those written by native speakers of English, which can covertly contain cultural bias and ideologies accepted in English speaking countries, does not always inspire truly global ways of thinking. My students are part of the legion of non-native scholars around the world whose academic work partially involves using English. They account for the vast majority of the global academic population and my students will have a lot of opportunities to read pieces written by those people.
I am quite impressed with the editorial decision to include highly academic pieces written by non-native speakers because nowadays there are dozens of textbooks written by native speakers but not as rich in content as this one.
Last but not least, this book is quite useful in class. In each chapter there are there different passages on one same topic, presenting three different points of view. This helps activate discussions after reading activities. You can start with a simple question such as “Which of the three viewpoints do you agree with the most?” to make it easy for students who are not good at expressing their opinions to speak. Asking them to make a case against a viewpoint they don’t agree with is a good way to take the discussion further.
In conclusion, I highly recommend Reading Skills for College as an excellent material which gives teachers the leverage to create a great lesson.
Longman Academic Reading Series
The Longman Academic Reading Series is a five-level series that prepares English language learners for academic work. The aim of the series is to make students more effective and confident readers by providing high-interest readings on academic subjects and by teaching them skills and strategies for effective reading, vocabulary building, note-taking, and critical thinking. The series also encourages students to discuss and write about the ideas they discovered in the readings, making them better speakers and writers of English as well.
Click the links below to request an inspection copy: Level 1 | Level 2 | Level 3 | Level 4 | Level 5