Teaching Children to Read Part 2

by Sophia McMillan
(Tokyo, Japan)

∗ reinforces reading in English is fun

∗ fosters a love of books and reading

∗ introduces repetitive structures to children and helps them retain new language ∗ fosters social skills

∗ improves concentration and imagination.

Ways of using storybooks in the class:

∗ Read the book to the learner/s, holding it so they can see the pictures

∗ Act out the characters – different voices/gestures for different characters

∗ Add sound effects or music in the background

∗ Talk about what is on the page (simple QA about colours, numbers etc)

∗ Choral reading – children joining in with familiar words and phrases

∗ Have a special chant to announce story time

∗ Follow up with related craft activities to allow them to personalise the language

When reading to very young learners it is not necessary to stick to the text. At this stage it is more about the sing-song quality of the voice and so as long as the pictures are being talked about a connection will be made between books, pictures, sounds and fun.

Very young learners soon realise that books have a front and back, they progresses page by page and that words are read from left to right in English, and that the different shapes of the letters inside these words are what helps you figure out what to say as you read the book aloud. This of course is not explicitly taught, they will absorb it as you point to the words as they are read aloud, moving your finger along the line.

Letter/Phonic Recognition

Phonics is: the association of a letter and sound. In order to read children need to be able to recognise the letter but more importantly the sound associated with that letter. It is often easier for the learners if we focus on lower case letters first as they account for about 95% of all letters in written English.

One way to get children familiar with letters is to take a holistic approach i.e. one that requires using the body and space rather than a pen and paper. Children respond well to the physicality of the activities and it helps them retain the shapes and sounds of letters and encourage them to manipulate them. Activities that practice letter recognition can also be used to practice and develop phonic recognition as first you use the letters and then do the same activity but use the phonic value.


∗ Touch/Stations: Place letter cards around the room. Teacher says a letter, sound or word beginning with that letter and the children run to find/touch the correct letter, repeating it when they do.

∗ Recognising Letters: On the board or handouts as below children have to recognise

which letter is the same and circle or colour it.

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