Vol. 6. No. 2 R-2 September 2002
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Tapestry: Reading 1

Rebecca Oxford (Series Editor) and M.E. Sokolik (Reading Editor) (2000)
Boston: Heinle & Heinle
Pp. xiii + 198
ISBN 083840568-1 (paper)

Tapestry: Reading 2

Rebecca Oxford (Series Editor) and M.E. Sokolik (Reading Editor) (2000)
Boston: Heinle & Heinle
Pp. xiii + 203
ISBN 083840056-6 (paper)

Tapestry: Reading 3

Rebecca Oxford (Series Editor) and M.E. Sokolik (Reading Editor) (2000)
Boston: Heinle & Heinle
Pp. xiii + 235
ISBN 083840050-7 (paper)

Tapestry: Reading 4

Rebecca Oxford (Series Editor) and M.E. Sokolik (Reading Editor) (2000)
Boston: Heinle & Heinle
Pp. xiii + 221
ISBN 083840060-4 (paper)

Introduction and Description of Organization

I have been using the Tapestry Series with my ESL students in college-level academic reading classes here in the United States. It has taken me some time to find a series that addresses many of these students' specific needs as they transition from the ESL academic courses to other academic classes. Tapestry includes a range of activities and exercises that focus on building reading skills and also includes several supplemental resources. Tapestry 1,2, 3, and4 are very good texts to use in a reading program and in general, have few weaknesses. The books provide a variety of readings, and also include sections on language learning strategies and study skills, as well as resources such as CNN video clips, and language learning web sites.

The books cover a range of themes including topics such as College Life, Healthy Habits, Love and Marriage, Space is the Place, Jobs and Occupations, Lawmakers and Lawbreakers, Beyond Science, Cultural Perspectives, The Gender-Role Revolution, Media and Culture, Affluenza, On the Move: Population and Immigration, Saving the Planet: Ecology, and so forth.

Reading Skills Covered

These topics are used to present reading skills and strategies used before, during, and after reading. The topics themselves are not identified as separate skills as in many reading textbooks, however, the activities and questions are designed so that students have opportunities to practice several skills. Many chapters begin with questions to activate schemata and prior knowledge. Vocabulary practice is provided through fill-in-the-blank exercises and content knowledge and comprehension can be assessed and practiced through the comprehension questions and matching exercises which often follow the readings. The exercises provide practice in pre-reading skills such as scanning and skimming, and activation of schemata, and the vocabulary fill-in exercises provide practice in use of context as a reading skill. The comprehension questions and true/false questions focus on overall understanding of the text and main idea recognition. The Language Learning Strategy sections provide some information and further practice in the application of reading skills and strategies. [-1-]

Unit Organization and Features of the Text

The units are arranged slightly differently but each unit generally begins with some type of pre-reading activity usually indicated by the heading Getting Ready to Read. It might be a matching activity, true-false exercise, or questions related to the reading. Following this is an introduction to new vocabulary, Vocabulary Check, which is a list of some of the words, which appear in the reading to follow. A reading, typically an article of some type is presented and then that is proceeded by the section After You Read which contains the comprehension questions. Vocabulary Building exercises containing many of the same words as the "Vocabulary Check" at the beginning of the chapter also follow the reading exercises. Some chapters include a section called Tuning In, which often includes a few questions related to the CNN videos that come accompany each book. The chapters end with a section entitled Putting it all Together, ideas for additional projects which might involve group work or internet research, journal or report writing. Each chapter also includes two sections, Academic Power Strategy, which are descriptions of study strategies students can apply to any academic course and setting. Some of these include setting goals, creating a study schedule, participating in class discussions, communicating with professors, locating and using campus resources, etc. The Language Learning Strategy sections provide some information and further practice in reading skills and strategies which include main idea recognition, topic sentence identification, concept mapping, identifying a writer's purpose and audience, distinguishing fact and opinion, identifying causes and effects, drawing inferences, evaluating viewpoints, using context clues, etc. Both of these sections are highly useful for students. Heinle and Heinle also has a website with online multiple-choice quizzes for each chapter of the book. http://www.tapestry.heinle.com/ Finally, there is a Test Taking Tip section and Check Your Progress section which requires students to rate themselves in terms of how well they have mastered the goals set at the beginning of each chapter.


The Tapestry Reading books include some excellent features that make the books very user-friendly. The books contain some very good articles on a range of topics to be of interest to students. The chapters follow a similar format so students know what to expect in each chapter. The vocabulary words emphasized in each chapter are commonly words that students at that particular level are not familiar with so the words emphasized are quite appropriate. The Language Learning Strategy sections are particularly useful as they focus on reading skills and strategies that can be applied to the readings.

While I very much like these textbooks and will continue to use them, there are, however, some weaknesses. The books do not offer enough vocabulary practice. Although students are encouraged to find the definitions of the vocabulary words presented in the Vocabulary Check section of the books and are also encouraged to add them to a vocabulary log. Teachers should therefore explain the function and format of a vocabulary log and ensure students are doing so. Vocabulary development, once vocabulary learning strategies are taught, is to a large extent up to the student. Nonetheless one-time exposure to the words is not enough and therefore additional vocabulary practice is needed; teachers must do much more in terms of encouraging the learning of these words. If the books even contained one or two follow-up additional activities with these word lists, it would help to reinforce the words and facilitate learning of the vocabulary.

As stated the Language Learning Strategy sections are extremely useful as each time they focus on a particular reading skill, but teachers must emphasize and model these skills throughout the book so students use and apply these skills and strategies. For example, one chapter might discuss the difference between fact and opinion, use of context clues, or the importance of audience and purpose identification, but teachers will need to re-emphasize and re-visit these strategies throughout the text as students read the various pieces in the texts. Class discussion therefore is essential so that these textual features and aspects are continually discussed and reinforced. The main limitation of the reading series, especially the higher-level books, Books 3 and 4, is that the books do not offer enough actual reading practice in terms of the application of skills. The questions that usually follow the text do not always get at the range of skills or textual features in enough detail. Higher-level cognitive skills such as evaluation, synthesis, and analysis for example are not emphasized to the degree that they should be in an academic reading series. Teachers will have to find ways of getting at those essential reading skills when discussing the articles. [-2-]

Finally, although not a major point, the chapter questions on the website can be improved. The questions are too simplistic and once again do not get at the higher-level cognitive skills essential in an academic course. Online vocabulary quizzes corresponding to each chapter would also be extremely useful and teachers can use them just as the comprehension questions, as students have the option of entering a teacher's email address so scores are sent to the teacher.

Overall, my students and I do like the Tapestry Reading Books very much because of the easy-to-use format, well-organized structure, and interesting articles and topics. The Final Project suggestions at the end of each chapter also allow for some creativity and offer interesting follow-up activities, often requiring student research, another important skill. I have examined many reading series and so far Tapestry, Books 1-4 have been the most suitable for our reading courses and students' needs. They do address reading skills in a context, and offer some of the more appropriate and interesting readings and themes, certainly an essential element to keep our readers interested and motivated.

Meena Singhal
Long Beach City College

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