Chinswing has now become Voxopop! “Perspective,” a Japanese user who has started several different conversations, has now begun several threads for reading aloud which are wonderful for improving your listening, speaking, and reading skills! The first one I found is devoted to short stories by O. Henry. O. Henry, whose real name was William Sidney Porter, lived at the turn of the 20th century and wrote many wonderful stories about people in New York City. The first story in the thread is one of my favorites, “The Last Leaf.” It is about two young artists, Sue and Johnsy, who live together in New York. Johnsy is dying of pneumonia, and she has decided that when the last ivy leaf on the wall outside her window falls, she will die. The story of how Johnsy survives will bring tears to your eyes.
At the beginning of each short story in the thread, there is a link to the story on the web. Each participant in the thread reads a few paragraphs of the story. You can read along as you listen to English learners from many different countries read aloud. O. Henry’s vocabulary is challenging, so this thread is best for advanced learners, who will find plenty of challenging new words in the stories.
Perspective has another thread dedicated to the short stories of Oscar Wilde, Angl0-Irish author and playwright of the Victorian age. Wilde’s language is easier than O. Henry’s, so intermediate learners may prefer this thread.
The most recent read-aloud thread begun by Perspective is English Fairy Tales by Joseph Jacobs. These stories also feature easier language than the O. Henry stories, but many of the words are archaic (old and no longer used in modern English), and there is non-standard grammar in the speech of the characters.
Reading and listening to literature is a great way to expand your vocabulary and hone your listening skills. You can also contribute to the threads by reading a part of a story. If you are an English learner, I’d recommend that you look up any unfamiliar vocabulary first to get the correct pronunciation. Then practice reading the passage you have chosen a few times before you record it. Speak clearly and with feeling! Reading aloud is wonderful speaking practice.