SERIES INTRODUCTION Welcome to National Geographic Learning's new Reading and Vocabulary Focus series. The series delivers memorable reading experiences, develops essential reading skills, and showcases a wide variety of high-utility vocabulary. The passages take readers to exciting new places where they can apply the skills of successful academic readers. While engaged with the content, readers encounter target vocabulary that is ample, diverse, and presented with a fresh, pragmatic view of what the term vocabulary item truly means.
Great reading classes depend on top-of-the-line content. That's why we've taken such great care in selecting content for Reading and Vocabulary Focus . Through all four levels (high beginning to low advanced), Reading and Vocabulary Focus draws from the vast resources of National Geographic. High-interest reading content written by some of the world's most authoritative and thought-provoking reporters and explorers is presented in level-appropriate language and used to build reading skills and to promote vocabulary learning. Skill building is of course important, but not for its own sake. Our goal is always, first and foremost, for students to enjoy working with readings that are truly interesting and worth reading.
A BROADBAND APPROACH TO VOCABULARY A distinctive feature of Focus is its broadband approach to vocabulary. For each reading passage, three groups of vocabulary are called out: 1) 10-12 topic-related vocabulary items to consider in pre-reading activities 2) 6-8 academic words-single word items essential to building an academic vocabulary 3) 6-8 multiword vocabulary items useful in academic reading A systematic focus on multiword vocabulary sets Reading and Vocabulary Focus apart from most reading/vocabulary texts. Increasingly, more and more teachers and many textbooks recognize that some vocabulary items consist of more than one word, especially phrasal/prepositional verbs (hurry up, take on) and compound nouns (glass ceiling, weather station). However, the amount of effort and text space devoted to expanding students' multiword repertoires is typically minimal and the approach haphazard.
Our thinking in the Reading and Vocabulary Focus series has been influenced by numerous researchers who have examined the great importance to native speakers of conventionalized multi-word units, whether those units are called chunks, strings, or something else. Schmitt and Carter settle on the term formulaic sequences and point out a helpful description by Wray, that formulaic sequences are stored and retrieved whole from memory at the time of use rather than being subject to generation and analysis at the time of use by the language grammar. (Schmitt & Carter, 2012, 13) It is not always easy to decide whether a group of words constitutes a unit so tight and useful that it should be taught as a discrete vocabulary item. In our item selection for Focus, we applied the criterion of stored and retrieved whole. An item could make the cut if, in the expert judgment of our authors and editors, it was probably treated cognitively as a whole thing. In this way, we were able to judge that such diverse language as pay attention to, on the whole, an invasion of privacy, and be the first to admit are formulaic sequences that learners should study and learn as whole units. We checked our judgment against as many sources as possible, including corpora such as the Bank of English (part of the Collins COBUILD corpus) and the online version of the Corpus of Contemporary American English (COCA).
UNIT STRUCTURE Each unit of Reading and Vocabulary Focus begins with a high-impact photograph related to the unit theme to capture the students' imaginations and allow for pre-reading discussion. The unit theme encourages inquiry and exploration and offers opportunities for synthesis of information. Two reading passages, related to each other thematically, form the heart of the unit. Each reading is followed by stages of comprehension work, reading skill practice, formative vocabulary exercises, and discussion. Finally the unit ends with a comprehensive vocabulary review section and critical thinking synthesizing tasks.
Pre-Reading and Reading For each reading passage, pre-reading activities include a task that activates content schemata and a vocabulary exercise that provides a set of clues to the content that the reader will encounter while reading. Each reading has been chosen for high-interest and conceptual challenge and is presented in the company of some of the world's most stimulating photography and other graphics.
Comprehension and Vocabulary Development Comprehension exercises after each reading start out with a focus on main ideas ( Big Picture ) and move to details ( Close-Up ). Then a concise treatment of a high-utility reading skill leads into practice of the skill applied to the reading passage. The vocabulary section after each reading proceeds from the broadband approach mentioned earlier. First come exercises in recognizing academic words and placing them in context. Many of the items in this section are from the Academic Word List (AWL); whether from the AWL or not, every academic word is important in academic discourse. Then comes a section of multiword vocabulary, focusing on formulaic sequences as described earlier in this introduction.
Discussion After studying the vocabulary, students are prompted to use it in discussion activities. Finally, Think and Discuss questions at the end of each reading prompt learners to discuss their opinions on the topic of the reading while making connections to their own lives.
Unit Review The Unit Review consists of two parts: Vocabulary Review and Connect the Readings. The first section of the vocabulary review draws together vocabulary of all types into a richly contextualized exercise. Learners then encounter and practice the vocabulary from the unit, strengthening semantic networks and integrating a wide variety of items into their repertoires. The second section of the unit review, Connect the Readings, takes students' critical-thinking skills to a very high level as they analyze both readings and discover similarities/differences, agreement/disagreement, and other concept relationships.
Reading and Vocabulary Focus has been conceived to respect the wide-ranging curiosity and critical-thinking power of contemporary students. Every day these readers encounter a flood of information. They face unprecedented demands to sort the significant from the trivial and to synthesize information. We are delighted to help them do this by offering great readings, engaging skills development, and top-tier vocabulary learning all in an inviting, visually striking form.
Lawrence J. Zwier Series Consultant