Teaching Children to Read Part 2

by Sophia McMillan
(Shane Training Centre, Japan)


Pre-Reading: Laying the Foundation

There is learning to love books and there is learning to read books. If you can get the first the second will follow much more easily. Using storytelling can be advantageous as it:
* demonstrates natural rhythm and intonation
* improves listening skills and by default pronunciation
* increases both their active and passive vocabulary
* shows children how to read a book in English
* 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.

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