About English Made Easy
What is English Made Easy?
English Made Easy is a web-based literacy program that uses novel speech-recognition technology to help adults and children gain and increase literacy skills. English Made Easy's innovative software "listens" and provides feedback, enabling emerging readers to practice reading and pronunciation as they acquire fundamental reading skills.
What books are used in English Made Easy
The list of all books used can be downloaded here
How does English Made Easy work?
Basically, users log on to the English Made Easy web site and are presented with material to read. An on-screen tutor "reads" a phrase to the user and then "listens" to the user read the material through a headset microphone. Based on what was heard, the companion either provides positive reinforcement (e.g., "You sound great!") or an opportunity for the user to try reading a word again. As the user's skill improves, the technology reads less material so that the learner reads more.
What is the goal of English Made Easy?
The goal of English Made Easy is to help children and adults around the nation and the world gain essential literacy skills in English.
Does English Made Easy replace the need for a teacher?
The English Made Easy web-based literacy program is designed to supplement, not replace, existing literacy curriculum - whether the curriculum is in a school setting or within an adult literacy program.
What is the best way to use English Made Easy with my students?
English Made Easy is designed to complement any reading program or approach and can be implemented in a variety of ways. It can be effective in classrooms that have a few computers as well as in labs or situations where every student has access to a computer simultaneously. English Made Easy is a valuable tool for students working individually or with the class divided into groups. When students work individually, they can be reading specific e-books assigned by the teacher to practice skills they have not yet mastered or to attempt new vocabulary and skills with feedback, for those who may be progressing faster than the rest of the class. Since students are receiving feedback from the online tutor, they can practice independently while the teacher works with the rest of the class. It is also possible for the teacher to monitor students and immediately provide assistance. Teachers may choose to rotate students on English Made Easy during free reading time or independent work times.
In addition, a teacher can divide the class to focus on specific needs. (This format may be based on reading and/or language levels.) While one group uses English Made Easy for reading practice, another group can work with the teacher on comprehension skills. Later, the groups switch so each receives teaching time in a small group as well as reading practice using English Made Easy.
What types of material do users read using English Made Easy?
Currently, there are a total of 519 e-books available. Many e-books (like the Vocabulary Collection of 72 e-books, the Narrative Collection of 99 e-books and the British Council Collection of 19 e-books) can be used by both children and adults. There are 191 e-books designed specifically for children, as well as e-books on topics ranging from job search and employment, driving, U.S. citizenship, housing, financial issues, and other topics relevant to the lives of adult learners.
Are reading levels assigned to e-books?
A Flesch Reading Ease score is assigned to each e-book. Flesch Reading Ease measures how easy or difficult a text is to read.
The Flesch Reading Ease Scale measures readability as follows:
100: Very easy to read. The average sentence length is 12 words or fewer, with no words of more than two syllables.
65: Plain English. The average sentence length is 15 to 20 words long and the average word has two syllables.
30: Harder to read. Sentences will have around 25 words and most of them will have two syllables.
0: Very hard to read. The average sentence is 27 words long and the average word will have more than two syllables.
The higher the rating, the easier the text is to understand.
English Made Easy e-books have not been correlated with GE, Student Performance Level (SPL) or readability levels.
Are the e-books designed to help students master specific content as well?
E-books can be fun, interesting and meaningful to encourage students to practice reading. For example, K-2 readers may particularly enjoy the "Blue" series. E-books can also focus on specific content and complement the curriculum for science, social studies, etc. Currently, English Made Easy includes e-books for adults that closely match core topics of interest such as finance, applying for work or job-related vocabulary. In such cases, the English Made Easy e-books are a valuable resource for reviewing and reinforcing particular words and/or concepts.
Does a teacher have to be using a phonics-based teaching approach to use English Made Easy?
Because English Made Easy is not designed to teach decoding skills, teachers using both phonics-based and whole language approaches to learning will be able to use the software within their curriculum. English Made Easy is designed to give students the opportunity to practice spoken English using interesting, relevant content while receiving immediate feedback.
How are the e-books sequenced?
Some books are designed to be read in numeric order and their titles indicate that order. For example, the Shy books for children are numbered 1 through 3; the Apply for Work books for adults are numbered 1 through 6. E-books without a numeric title can be read in any order.
Can anyone access and use English Made Easy at home?
How does English Made Easy respond to readers who have heavy accents?
Overall, English Made Easy does relatively well with readers who have heavy accents. There are occasional problems with the voice recognition software not capturing the spoken words correctly, but our development team continues to make improvements to the speech engine to reduce these instances.
What do I need to run this software?
English Made Easy simply requires:
• A computer running Windows, MacOs or Linux
• A high-speed Internet connection (DSL or higher)
• Audio capabilities
• Headset microphones
• A web broswer (Internet explorer, Firefox, Chrome, Safari)
• Flash Player 14 or higher. Please see Flash Player's system requirements.
Does English Made Easy run on Macintosh or Linux machines?
Yes. Please see the What do I need to run this software question.
I need headsets. What kind should I buy?
Common microphone/headset brand names include Labtec and Plantronics. WDI does not promote these brands in any way - these are simply suggestions on the type of headsets that work well with English Made Easy. Estimated cost per headset is US $12-$15.
Look for noise-canceling microphones without a sponge cover. Also, to avoid accidental changes to the microphone set up, avoid styles with in-line controls for microphone volume or mute.
The student sees "There was no audio recorded!" message regularly.
English Made Easy continually monitors the microphone settings and displays this error when only silence is repeatedly detected instead of students' speech.
As a result, the speech recognizer will not function properly. This could be caused by the microphone being unplugged, muted, or recording levels being badly adjusted. On the student's computer, please close the English Made Easy window and verify the microphone is functioning properly.
The student sees "The audio input is too loud!" message regularly.
English Made Easy continually monitors the microphone settings, and displays this error when the microphone recording levels are set too high:
As a result, the speech recognizer will not function properly. The good news is that the microphone or headset is plugged in correctly. However the microphone recording levels need to be adjusted or the headset needs to be adjusted on the head of the student. On the student's computer, please close the English Made Easy window and verify the microphone is functioning properly, and restart English Made Easy.
English Made Easy doesn't seem to be "hearing" what I am saying.
Even though English Made Easy continually monitors the microphone recording levels, it may sometimes miss a problem with the microphone settings. If you notice that correctly spoken phrases are often detected as incorrect, please verify the audio is recorded properly.
I received an error message. What should I do?
If an error occurs once, or rarely, it may be caused by internet connectivity problems. In this case just log into English Made Easy again.
If the error occurs consistently or frequently, please collect the following information to report problems:
1. The date, time and timezone of when the problem occured along with the city, school/organization and the login Id for which the problem occured. This helps us find the activity in our logs that is relevant to the problem.
2. The steps you took to cause the problem to appear.
Email all of the above information to: JakkiTrihey@WorkforceDevelopmentInc.org. All emails will be responded to within 2 business days. All tech support issues will result in one or more of the following responses:
• A known strategy for fixing the problem will be provided.
• You will be asked to have your IT staff assess the hardware, operating system and the network configuration.
• Our software development team will be asked to find a solution.
When I click the record button, I get a dialog box asking me to allow or deny Camera and Microphone Access.
The flash player is asking your permission to record audio from your microphone. You must allow the access for the tool to work. The same thing is true for the English Made Easy reader. If you want to permanently give the tool access to your microphone (or change your permission later):
right click on the tool → settings → select the privacy tab → click on "allow" and "remember" → close
I am not hearing any audio played back to me.
- Check that you can hear other sounds from your computer. If you cannot, check that your speakers or headphones are plugged in and the volume is appropriate.
- Check that your microphone is plugged in. Microphones are typically plugged into the pink jack on the computer.
- Check that your microphone is not muted. Some microphones have a physical "mute" button on the cable or the microphone itself.
- For the following steps, you'll need to access the microphone settings in the control panel. The location of the settings depends on the operating system.
- Make sure that the correct microphone is set as the default device (Windows 7).
- Make sure that the recording levels are set sufficiently high.
- If the recording levels are set at maximum and the audio is still too quiet, try adjusting the "Microphone Boost" (Windows 7) option. This may not be available on all computers.
The played back audio sounds very loud or distorted.
This could be a result of the recording levels being set too high. You will need to access the microphone settings panel (see below). Try the following steps in order.
- Turn down (off) the Microphone boost.
- Turn down the recording levels.
Accessing microphone settings on Windows 7
- Click Start → Control Panel → Hardware and Sound → Sound. → Recording tab
English Made Easy uses the default microphone, so make sure your microphone is selected as the default device. If not, click on the microphone and then on the "Set Default" button.
- Click on your microphone → Properties button & Levels tab:
Adjust both the recording levels and the microphone boost as needed and again verify that your microphone is working.
I need technical assistance beyond the common questions covered in this FAQ. What resources are available?
Beyond the common problems and their solutions described in this FAQ. If you still need technical assistance after having read all the available documentation, please email JakkiTrihey@WorkforceDevelopmentInc.org