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K-State Today

December 17, 2018

Jolene McConnell co-publishes textbook for beginning-level adult language learners

Submitted by Mary K. Pyle

Jolene McConnell, English language program instructor in the Office of International Programs, recently co-published a textbook for beginning-level adult language learners, titled "English Reading and Vocabulary I." McConnell co-authored the book with former English Language Program instructor Emily Elliott.

McConnell said that it took about two years to write the book and an additional two years to have it peer reviewed, edited to develop the online components and then finally published. Portions of the book have been piloted at K-State.

"As an instructor I found that there was very little to choose from, as most textbooks for beginners targeted children and offered essays and pictures in childish language that adults were embarrassed to use," McConnell said. "Other books focus on teaching integrated skills, which can be useful, but they tend to use short reading passages that aren't robust enough for our students by about the midpoint of the semester."

The university's English language program has been supplementing textbooks with teacher-created materials for quite a while, McConnell said.

"Elliott was the reading curriculum chair and she asked me to write stories with specific vocabulary lists for the students to read," McConnell said. "She would then develop questions. Before long, I was writing a new essay or story every day to keep up with the needs of the class. Ultimately, that's how we developed the book. We compiled our stories utilizing our vocabulary and questions and then we decided to pursue writing our book."

The book is intended for beginning-level adult learners of English. It is based on corpus research and introduces the 500 most common words in English in context so students can learn the words in natural sounding language. The book has a unified storyline which focuses on a group of international students studying at a university for the first time. The purpose of the book is not only to give students the opportunity to practice reading fluency, but also to learn about American university culture and practices.

The book is currently featured on Amazon and described as "A university-level English as a second language textbook designed to help students study English vocabulary, learn how to read, and develop valuable reading and comprehension skills. The text helps students cultivate a solid foundation in the English language so they have the confidence and ability to interact with other English speakers in professional, educational, and social environments."