The feeling of reading your first book in a new language is truly amazing. I remember after I read my first book in Spanish, I felt such a sense of accomplishment. Words that would have previously been unintelligible shapes on paper had become a whole new world of meaning. It was exciting and very motivating. It also really helped me improve my language skills. Adding a full-length book to your ESL curriculum can be a great way to add authentic and engaging material to your class. Check out this article get all you need to use the book I Have a Dream by Margaret Davidson in your class. I used it in my low intermediate class with adult learners and it went really well.
Reading in a foreign language has many benefits. Not only can it be interesting and fun, but it can also develop many languages skills in the learner. Reading exposes a person to vocabulary, grammar, culture, and expressions. It also helps promote fluency and can spark engaging and authentic discussions.
The material I created for this book is designed to help students develop their reading skills. I use strategies from Reading Apprenticeship (RA) pedagogy. The idea of RA is that reading isn’t something you learn in grade school and then “know.” Reading is a complex process that takes continued practice and awareness of the reading process and reading strategies. Click below to access the content. Keep reading to get a more detailed description of some of the activities in this handout.
Prereading Activities: Near the beginning of the semester, I do a sequence of activities to start the discussion about reading and set the tone for the reading we’ll be doing in the class. I want to highlight the idea that reading is an active process that requires the use of strategies to help solve comprehension problems.
- Why Do We Read?: I start with a brainstorming session where I ask students to come up with as many reasons as they can think of for why people might read. I have them write these down and then we go over them in class.
- Personal Reading History: After we brainstorm reasons why people read, I ask students to take a few minutes to write about their reading history. I give them the following prompt “Write about some important moments or events in your own development as a reader in English and/or your native language. What experiences come to mind? Can you think of enjoyable moments, or difficult, frustrating moments? What or who supported your development as a reader?”
- Supports and Barriers: The personal reading history leads in nicely to a discussion about supports and barriers to reading. I have students pair up and share what they had written about in their personal reading history. Then, I have them work to create a list of supports and barriers to reading. We then share these as a class.
- Reading Strategies: Next, we work together to write a list of reading strategies. If possible, write this on a poster paper you can keep in the classroom. If you can’t, type the ideas in a document that you can save and post to the course’s learning management system or print out and distribute to the class. You can add to this list as the semester goes on.
Chapter Activities: There are certain activities I include on each chapter handout. These activities are routines in my class.
- Confusions: For each chapter, I ask students to take note of places where they got confused, so we can talk about these in class. I want to make sure that it’s apparent that coming across confusion is a part of the reading process and it’s 100% ok. It’s a matter of what one does when they’re confused that matters.
- New Words: I ask students to keep a list of the new words they come across. This way that can continue to expand their vocabulary. I also have students complete a reading log for each chapter. This is a good place for them to practice some of the new words they learned.
- Golden Lines: This is an RA strategy that I really like. Often the Golden Line discussion goes for a while before we even get into the discussion questions. Most of the chapters ask students to pick a line that they think represents X (some leave it open for students to choose a line they connected with). After reading, students share out their golden line and explain why they chose it. It sparks interesting discussion and gives everyone a great chance to participate.
What books do you use in your ESL classes? Let us know in the comment box below.