New speakers of English enjoy the hand-made puzzles in Elizabeth Claire's new book, "Easy English Crossword Puzzles."

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Eardley Publications announces its latest book, "Easy English Crossword Puzzles." The book is an anthology of the best of the crosswords that have appeared in Easy English NEWS, Elizabeth Claire’s monthly newspaper for immigrants. The puzzle book starts out with step-by-step instructions and simple examples. Claire's crossword puzzles are probably the first that newcomers can do in English.

parrot doing puzzle

Illustrations by Dave Nicholson

It's the first crossword puzzle I was ever able to do!

“The puzzles are ‘hand made,’” says Claire, “as opposed to computer-generated. Computer programs use random words that English language learners are not likely to know, and generally don’t have the number of crossings needed to make a puzzle interesting."

When Claire first started Easy English NEWS, she hired a Canadian scrabble champion to create the crossword puzzles for her. She gave him a list of words from the upcoming issue of Easy English NEWS, and restricted additional words to those that would be in a second year language student's vocabulary. The expert was able to produce a puzzle in a half hour. Eventually, Claire got the hang of it, too, though it took her much longer than it did him. "I love to play with words; I found it challenging and fun to make the puzzles myself," says Claire.

Each puzzle has a theme, such as a holiday, season, or historic event. What makes these selected puzzles suitable for students learning English, says Claire, is that she carefully chooses high-frequency words,--those most likely to be known by a second year language student. Rather than tricky, cute, or ambiguous definitions or plays on words, so common in standard puzzles, Claire wrote straightforward, helpful definitions with the intention of improving the puzzle doer's rate of success.

In her surveys of readers and teachers using Easy English NEWS, Claire noted a strong request for more crossword puzzles. She selected the best of the puzzles over the past 15 years, refined them, and created a book of 38 ESL-friendly puzzles, with an appendix of common words used in the puzzles: state abbreviations; common two-letter words; common abbreviations, U.S. presidents, and holidays and events in the U.S.

All the puzzles were tested on new speakers of English before publication. Easy English NEWS’s art consultant, Dave Nicholson created amusing illustrations, which are half the fun. Easy English Crossword Puzzles is available at Elizabethclaire.com.

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