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Holiday by the Numbers--Reading Comprehension Quiz

Ohanian Note: Most people will consider this a temptest in a teapot. Larry Ferlazzo recommended the Christmas lesson on Twitter. I looked at it and was stunned and replied "sick and abusive." He asked why and I explained below. This website does not have a "comment" feature but am giving space (nearly twice as much as the original) to the lesson purveyor who accuses me of misrepresentation [I don't think so] and being unfair. As always, Let the teacher decide.

by Sue Lyon-Jones
For the benefit of your readers, I think it's only fair to point out that the exercise you have singled out for criticism here is an IELTS practice reading test, designed for adults. The fact that it is an IELTS preparation test is clearly signposted as such in the page title ("IELTS Reading Test") in the instructions at the beginning of the page which states amongst other things that it is designed to help prepare learners for the IELTS reading test, and the "true, false, and not given" format of the questions, which you selectively misquoted.

It seems to me that any competent ELT professional who teaches young learners would simply move on once they had grasped the purpose and audience the exercise was designed for, and look for a more age appropriate activity to use with their students. To present it out of context and critique it as an exercise targeted at school age children which promotes consumerism seems disingenuous at best, to put it mildly.

I would agree with you that mindless busyness is to be avoided in class, but once again I think your comments unfairly misrepresent what our website is about. We are a language learning site and we work hard to ensure that the exercises and quizzes on our site are underpinned by sound pedagogy. Our Christmas lessons get the same attention in this respect as every other topic. Christmas features on the school syllabus in the UK, along with many other religious festivals that form part of the diverse, multicultural, multi-faith society we live in. English language learners (and especially adults) living in English speaking countries need to have at minimum a basic vocabulary for talking about Christmas to enable them to function in society at this time of year, and as a site that sets out to provide free materials for people to learn English, it would be perverse not to cover such an important aspect of British culture and society as a topic. Whilst you would seem to have either misread the message or tacked your own agenda onto it, I feel your outrage is undeserved and misplaced. I make no apologies for providing free materials to help people learn English, and make the lives of English language teachers that little bit easier.

by Susan Ohanian

May the user beware. These "exercises" are free, but think about the message they send.

I can't bring you the graphics to this so-called reading comprehension quiz designed for ESL students, but I need to express my outrage.

1. Religious holidays should be observed by families and not denigrated by school busywork.

2. Schools should not promote the consumerist culture. This activity is all about BUY BUY BUY.
Sample Question:
True or False
The average shopper in the U.S. spends $688 on gifts.

3. Schools should not make ESL students feel like outsiders, as this activity does.

If you like this, you can also get a Christmas Word Search

And English Words for Christmas Shopping

And Fill in the blank with words about Christmas shopping.

And on and on and on.

For shame.

— Susan Ohanian





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