Sarah Kowash is an English teacher at Oxford House in Barcelona. She completed a CertTESOL in 2017, and has been teaching general and academic English ever since. Her current interests in the field of language teaching include materials development. Here, she shares some ideas for using the GSE Text Analyzer with your learners.
The Global Scale of English Teacher Toolkit enables teachers to create unique lessons to suit the needs of a student or particular class. It provides flexibility in moving away from using a coursebook while still giving some structure to the class. You can use it for lesson planning, teaching mixed-ability classes and assessing student performance.
Another recent addition to the Toolkit is the Text Analyzer. But what is it? And how can it help you plan a classroom activity?
How the GSE Text Analyzer works
Imagine you are designing a reading activity for your class. You want to use an authentic text, but how do you know it’s the right level for your learners?
This is exactly what the GSE Text Analyzer is designed for. It checks external texts from 10 to 500 words and tells you the CEFR level. It also produces a GSE level. These levels correspond to the CEFR but with added detail. So, you’ll see where the text is within a CEFR level. This will help you to assess if your learners will find it too easy, or too challenging.
The Text Analyzer also generates a list of words within the text which might be above its overall level and gives you a readability score. This uses information like the number of sentences and word count to determine how easy a text will be to read and understand.
Designing reading tasks with the GSE Text Analyzer
Students respond well to the use of authentic materials. It is important to find something that appeals to them. But it’s equally important to make sure the text you choose is at the right level for your learners. To follow Krashen’s theory of comprehensible input, you should be aiming for something just above their current level.
For example, if you have a B1 class, then a B2 text will challenge them and make them feel that they are learning something. However, a C1 text could be so challenging that it could actually demotivate your students.
However, if you’ve copied and pasted the text into the Text Analyzer and you see that the level is too high, there are a few different options to make your reading task easier:
- You could simplify the text in order to make it more manageable. The Text Analyzer identifies which specific words are above the overall level of the text. So, you can change those words to simpler synonyms.
- Or instead, you could use this word list to prepare a vocabulary pre-learning task before moving on to the reading exercise.
- You could also adjust the difficulty of the questions. If the text is a higher level, you can design simpler questions that focus on gist and scanning for specific information.
- If a text is lower than their level, your questions can be more challenging, for example, questions that make use of synonyms, or consider the author’s tone and attitude.
Using the GSE Text Analyzer for reflective writing tasks
The Text Analyzer is a powerful tool for making students aware of their own writing level. In higher-level exam preparation classes, one of the biggest challenges is getting students to utilize the vocabulary they learn in order to display a wider range of language and achieve a higher grade in their writing. So how can the Text Analyzer help in a writing workshop?
First, present students with B1, B2, C1 texts and ask them to try and identify the differences between each level. Point out aspects of each text such as the varied length of sentences, and the range and complexity of vocabulary. Students can then predict what level their own writing would achieve, and run their own writing through the Text Analyzer to see if their prediction is correct. You could even extend this writing activity into an ipsative assessment, where students measure their success against their previous results.
Grading your language with the GSE Text Analyzer
Grading your language effectively can be a real challenge for teachers, especially when teaching mixed ability groups. The Text Analyzer is a helpful way of checking your written and spoken instructions in order to make sure you will be understood by your students.
Learn more about using the GSE
Here’s another post from Sarah on how to use the Learning Objectives to plan lessons backwards using constructive alignment. You can also learn how to use the Teacher Toolkit to target the right learning zone, teach integrated skills and help your learners set SMART goals.
- Hughes G. (2014) Exploring Ipsative Assessment. In: Ipsative Assessment. Palgrave Macmillan, London.
- Krashen, Stephen D. (1981). Second Language Acquisition and Second Language Learning (PDF). Oxford: Pergamon.
- The Guardian. (2021). 5,000 attend rock concert in Barcelona after Covid screening. [online] Available at: https://www.theguardian.com/world/2021/mar/28/5000-attend-rock-concert-in-barcelona-after-covid-19-screening