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AMEP Research Centre

Fire Reader

Fire Reader
Edited by Stephanie Claire and Helen de Silva Joyce
Published by NSW AMES, 2006

The reader consists of pre-reading vocabulary matching and listening exercises, two short stories with comprehension and grammar exercises and relevant safety instructions. It is mainly suitable for CSWE III students, although the preliminary listening exercises could be used at CSWE II level.

The appearance of this book was extremely timely, as it has been an appalling year for fatal house fires in Brisbane. For this reason, at Southbank Institute we have used parts of the reader in various ways (as a teacher-co-ordinated activity, in sessions with tutors and volunteers and as an individual activity) with good CSWE Level II or Level III students.

Students’ response was generally positive with regard to both the stories and the exercises.  Level III students found the highly structured nature of the initial listening exercises too predictable although it was this very factor which made them accessible to lower-level classes. The stories are engaging and the dialogue is colloquial without being overloaded with idioms. CSWE Level III students also enjoyed the accompanying exercises.

From a teaching perspective, the book provides very important settlement information in palatable form. Moreover, those students working on personal narratives clearly benefitted from the structural models. The fact that students could read and listen at the same time helped them to correlate the two macro skills. The high quality of the CD meant that students could use it as a model when reading aloud to improve their pronunciation and intonation.

I doubt that many teachers would want to work through the whole book with one class, but the various sections can be used alone to fit in with different teaching programs. We will certainly continue to use the reader at Southbank.

Reviewed by Alison MacPhail, Southbank TAFE, Queensland