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Writing for First-Time Readers: My Creative Process (by Daniel Olsson)

On November 17th at the ETJ Kansai Expo in Osaka Daniel Olsson, author of ELF Learning’s new TRW Reader series, will be sharing his experience of the writing process. Here he gives a brief sneak preview of his tricks and techniques — some of which may be surprising.

Everybody has a passion. It’s not inevitable, however, that everyone will get a chance to indulge in that passion or have the opportunity to apply the related skills to something practical. When I was asked to write a reader to accompany ELF Learning’s Think Read Write phonics-based reading and writing workbook, however, that’s exactly what happened. I would be using my writing skills directly alongside my teaching skills and the kids I saw in my classroom on a daily basis personified my inspiration and my end goal. Here, I’d like to share some of the key elements of my creative process that resulted in a book that, I believe, has the young, first-time reader at its heart.

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The Little Girl and the Magic Words (Malu Sciamarelli)

In February, Malu wrote “Where do your stories come to life?” for Teaching Village. I’m thrilled that she has followed it up with an original story. Barb
The Little WriterThere was once a girl who lived in a world where all words ran free. They just existed everywhere, not written or imprisoned on paper, and people were very happy because every time they wanted to use them, they could see and understand their real meaning and there was not such thing as misunderstandings. The girl especially was always radiant, because when she thought about something nice to say, the words came tumbling out joyfully showing their meanings in the air; when she thought about a poem in her mind, everyone could see the words shining through the midday sun; and when she wanted to express all the love in her heart, they danced around the trees and flowers. The little girl was a transparent crystal reflecting her joyous soul to the world.

One day, the girl decided she wanted people from other worlds to be happy too, and listen to the beautiful things the people in her world could think and express with the words that ran free, but how could they travel so far and reach other people without being scrambled in the air? How could she know if people would see the beauty of her thoughts the words so gracefully expressed? That was when she had an idea: what if she glued the words carefully, one by one on the fallen leaves of trees so that her beautiful thoughts, poems and stories could be taken away and people from other worlds could read them too? The trees agreed and the words too.

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More than five ways to use milk carton cubes

About 25 years ago, my co-author Ritsuko Nakata taught me how to make cubes out of milk cartons, and I’ve been using them in class ever since. I love recycling things and coming up with new ways to use them in lessons. I know that a lot of you do, too, so I’m beginning a new category for Teaching Village so that you can share your own ideas for creating and using inexpensive or free teaching materials. Recycling always makes good sense for the environment, and in tough economic times it also makes sense for our classrooms. (more…)

It’s all about reading

libraryThis month, Let’s Share is all about reading.

Reading is arguably the most important skill we can help our students develop. While we assume that speaking and listening will be important in our students’ future lives and careers, we don’t honestly have any idea how much opportunity they’ll have to talk to other people in English. Being able to read in English, however, opens windows to the world. All of our students will have access to the Internet, and English is likely to remain the lingua franca online for the foreseeable future. Not being able to read in English limits our students to only that small part of the Web that is in their native language. (more…)

Tell a story! (By Christina Markoulaki)

Here I am, back from a short-term holiday and ready for my summer lessons! It is customary in Greece for the winter courses in private language institutions to end around May; towards the end of June schools resume preparations to welcome those students who are willing to finish one more English-language class by taking an accelarated course in the summer months. The point is that the Greek weather is rather an impediment to studying since it is invariably scorching hot and sunny, calling for some soothingly cool sea bathing rather than having language lessons! Therefore, the question that immediately troubled me was: what can a teacher do to help these students start learning on a positive note?

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Rocco’s Day: A student-generated story activity for literacy practice

Though experience and through language we learn. Experience needs language to give it form. Language needs experience to give it content.

~Walter Loban

Children learning English as a foreign language tend to develop oral language skills before they become literate. In countries like Japan, where the grammar structure and writing system of English is so different from students’ first language, students can sit in English class for years before having to deal with anything beyond the ABC song. (more…)

Meeting Challenges in the EFL Classroom/ Part 1: Read-aloud activities (by Christina Markoulaki)

Branko M., Assistant Professor of American Literature of the English Department (Faculty of Humanities in Serbia),  has been so kind as to give me the opportunity to present in a webinar some of the challenges teachers worldwide need to face if they wish their teaching to result in efficient learning on the students’ part. Although I feel fortunate to have been trusted with students of all ages and levels, the difficulties posed on the way have been numerous, also allowing me to take delight in their resolution. (more…)

To champion the picturebook (by Sandie Mourão)

 


In May this year I launched my blog, Picturebooks in ELT. The motivation came from the work I’m doing with picturebooks for my PhD.  When I began my research programme, I had no idea it would lead me down this route… (more…)

Flap Books: A Simple Secret for Student Support! (by Lesley Ito)

I think what every teacher needs to know is this simple secret to successful ESL/EFL classes: Students can accomplish so much more if the lesson has proper support. It is very difficult for students, particularly at the EFL level, to stand up in front of the class and spontaneously tell a story or talk about their lives. One great way to provide support is with a simple, versatile craft called a Flap Book. Students can use these as a prop for communication as they hold their Flap Books and then lift the flaps as needed to remind them of what they want to say.

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Text Your Knowledge (by Nick Jaworski)

Part of the series: Stuff All EFL Teachers Should Know

As a manager I interview a lot of teachers.  One question I always ask is about reading texts.  If you have a short reading text, what are some different ways in which it can be used?  I am constantly surprised by the lack of responses I get to this question.  Candidates most often give one of two responses

1)      I have the students read the text and then I ask them questions about it.

Ok, this is standard and nothing wrong with that.  We want to check to see that the students comprehend the text, but this is generally quite boring and is really more of a test than teaching reading skills.

2)      I have the students read it out loud.

Sadly, I have seen this used a lot in classes at well.  I’m sitting and observing a class of 15 students and the teacher asks one student to read out loud while the others follow along in the book.  This has to be one of the worst wastes of time for a class.  One student is speaking and the other 14 students are bored out of their mind and not paying attention.  Additionally, the one reading isn’t comprehending the text because they are too focused on speaking correctly.  The only thing being worked on here is pronunciation of the one student reading the text. (more…)