Science Reader II
By Kevin Cleary

Our central idea with Science Reader II was to give students many opportunities to read interesting material, and to then spur them to write a paper or make a presentation based on a topic gleaned from the unit. The articles in the book are taken from the very popular Nature News website, www.nature.com/news, and address contemporary issues in science, including environmental science (“Lizards succumb to global warming”), policy considerations (“Animal rights activists invade Europe”), medical treatment (“Colour blindness corrected by gene therapy”), and brain science (“Brain implant allows mute man to speak”). 

Each article is supported by three essays, beginning with a 200-word introduction to the main article. This introduction either summarizes the research reported in the article or provides essential background information that will help students better comprehend the main article. At the end of the unit is Further Ideas, a section with two 250-word essays that were inspired by the main article. Some of these essays explain a concept, method or phenomena from the article in detail, while others provide insight on how researchers act or address an ethical or policy-oriented issue introduced by the article. The purpose of these essays is to enable deeper comprehension of the article on re-reading or reflection. As the main articles tend to be about 600 words long, students get twice as much reading practice as they would with a purely article-based approach.

Further support of the main article is provided by comprehension questions and technical English practice that follow the article. Exercise 1 promotes critical thinking as its seven multiple choice questions have detailed, sentence-length answer choices. Exercise 2 builds vocabulary as well as testing comprehension as its questions require the choice of a word or phrase to fill in a blank. Exercise 3 focuses on the use of technical language, such as “How to say large numbers”, “How to read out formulas”, and “Recognizing the symbolic names of elements”. Just as with the supporting essays, the comprehension exercises were made with the goal of enabling and enriching the re-reading of the article.

Each unit closes with the second part of Further Ideas: an open writing exercise with the instruction, “What do you think? Write a short essay based on the main article or something that was mentioned in one of the essays above.” A particularly interesting use of this activity would be to base group presentations on the writing. In groups, students can present a wide variety of topics, all of which are related to one or more of the readings in the unit.

To get an idea how students at a university in Japan are using Science Reader II as a base for classroom presentations, please check out the main page and Facebook site for “The Project-based English Program”:

<http://www.pep.sk.ritsumei.ac.jp/>

Which book is best for your students?

Comparison between Science Reader and Science Reader II:

Item          /       Book

Science Reader

Science Reader II

Exercise focus

Reading comprehension, grammar, vocabulary

Reading comprehension, technical English

Extra readings

Two fill-in FAQs, fill-in summary that highlights the scientific method

200 word introduction; two 200-word essays reflecting issues brought up by the article

Both books are full of interesting articles and useful exercises, so we hope that you will find one of the Science Reader textbooks useful for your students.

Thank you very much for your interest in Science Reader II, and best wishes for your classes!

With best regards,

Kevin Cleary, Yuji Suzuki, Shoji Miyanaga, Yusuke Okada, Tsukasa Yamanaka