April 24, 2019
by Nora Nagy
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Exploring India with Kim in the English classroom

We are all aware of the benefits of extensive reading, but some of us may feel unsure about how to approach longer texts in class. How should we scaffold the reading for our students and how much time should we dedicate to talking about the book in class? How will the students benefit from their reading experience? How can we link the book to our syllabus? These are just some of the questions a teacher might have to consider when thinking about teaching through literature.

In this series of posts, we would like to encourage you to take extensive reading seriously and take a novel into class. We will look at how you can prepare your students for the text and expand it beyond the frame of the story. It is important to prepare the students so they are aware of what they are doing. Some of them may feel intimidated by the idea of reading a book in English, others may not see the benefits. These fears and preconceptions can be easily addressed and thereby make the reading process much more beneficial and all-importantly FUN for the students. It is always a good idea for students to keep a WORD BOOK where they can jot down new words and expressions. We also recommend getting your students to read slightly below level (‘I’ minus 1) so they are at ease with the language and consolidating language while learning new words in context. We also encourage you to offer projects for students individually or in groups so that they can connect with the novel through many pathways. These projects place the story in a wider cultural, historical and scientific context.

Our next story is Kim, written by Rudyard Kipling. You can read a short description of the Helbling Reader edition here.

The book was adapted by Janet Borsbey and Ruth Swan and illustrated by Gianluca Garofalo for pre-intermediate level learners (from pre-teen to adult) of English (CEFR A2). Continue Reading →

April 18, 2019
by Nora Nagy
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A Connecticut Yankee in the English classroom

We are all aware of the benefits of extensive reading, but some of us may feel unsure about how to approach longer texts in class. How should we scaffold the reading for our students and how much time should we dedicate to talking about the book in class? How will the students benefit from their reading experience? How can we link the book to our syllabus? These are just some of the questions a teacher might have to consider when thinking about teaching through literature.

In this series of posts, we would like to encourage you to take extensive reading seriously and take a novel into class. We will look at how you can prepare your students for the text and expand it beyond the frame of the story. It is important to prepare the students so they are aware of what they are doing. Some of them may feel intimidated by the idea of reading a book in English, others may not see the benefits. These fears and preconceptions can be easily addressed and thereby make the reading process much more beneficial and all-importantly FUN for the students. It is always a good idea for students to keep a WORD BOOK where they can jot down new words and expressions. We also recommend getting your students to read slightly below level (‘I’ minus 1) so they are at ease with the language and consolidating language while learning new words in context. We also encourage you to offer projects for students individually or in groups so that they can connect with the novel through many pathways. These projects place the story in a wider cultural, historical and scientific context.

These projects support classroom reading and research projects based on Mark Twain’s classic, A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court. You can read a short description of the Helbling Reader edition here.

The book was adapted by Scott Lauder and Walter McGregor and illustrated by Andrea Alemanno for elementary and pre-intermediate level learners (from pre-teen to adult) of English (CEFR A1-A2).

Continue Reading →

April 11, 2019
by Nora Nagy
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Doctor Dolittle projects for the English classroom

We are all aware of the benefits of extensive reading, but some of us may feel unsure about how to approach longer texts in class. How should we scaffold the reading for our students and how much time should we dedicate to talking about the book in class? How will the students benefit from their reading experience? How can we link the book to our syllabus? These are just some of the questions a teacher might have to consider when thinking about teaching through literature.

In this series of posts, we would like to encourage you to take extensive reading seriously and take a novel into class. We will look at how you can prepare your students for the text and expand it beyond the frame of the story. It is important to prepare the students so they are aware of what they are doing. Some of them may feel intimidated by the idea of reading a book in English, others may not see the benefits. These fears and preconceptions can be easily addressed and thereby make the reading process much more beneficial and all-importantly FUN for the students. It is always a good idea for students to keep a WORD BOOK where they can jot down new words and expressions. We also recommend getting your students to read slightly below level (‘I’ minus 1) so they are at ease with the language and consolidating language while learning new words in context. We also encourage you to offer projects for students individually or in groups so that they can connect with the novel through many pathways. These projects place the story in a wider cultural, historical and scientific context.

This month we continue with the important political novel, The Adventures of Doctor Dolittle written by Hugh Lofting. You can read a short description of the Helbling Reader edition here.

The book was adapted by Jennifer Gascoigne and illustrated by Lorenzo Sabbatini for elementary level learners (from pre-teen to adult) of English (CEFR A1). Continue Reading →

April 9, 2019
by Nora Nagy
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A love of libraries: get active with library tasks

Many of us will remember those old, wooden library catalogue drawers that were invariably spilling over with book cards. We also needed expert research skills to find a book – unless we gave in and asked the librarian to find it for us. First we found the catalogue card, and then, using all our special code cracking skills, we had to find information about the stack and the shelf where the book was stored. Accidental finds often happened this way as we either saw some new titles in the drawers while flipping through the cards, or spotted unexpected books on the shelves. I almost always felt enchanted by the various book spines and the titles written on them, wanting to see what the books were actually about.

Nowadays students rarely have this kind of physical connection with library books. We said goodbye to those beautiful drawers and learnt to use digital library catalogues. On the upside, we spend less time finding books, and keyword searches made it so much easier to widen our bookish horizons. Still, having knowledge of the physical organization of those shelves and the logic behind the catalogues makes it easier to find books in reading rooms and fine-tune our searches on those online platforms.

The classroom and school libraries are excellent places to practise these tangible library skills. Being able to touch, feel, lift, leaf through and smell books expands the reading and learning experience. These concrete memories and reference points will then support digital research and reading experiences and make them richer and probably even more successful.

The Sound of Silence by Martyn Hobbs
Illustrated by Gabriella Giandelli.

Continue Reading →

March 21, 2019
by Nora Nagy
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Hooked on Books: mindfulness and reading with Jane Revell

Jane Revell

In this series of interviews we talk to teachers, ELT writers, visual artists and researchers about the importance of using literature in the language classroom. Together they have over a hundred years of experience in teaching and writing so they can definitely give us plenty of advice and insight into the best practices.

This month we talk to Jane Revell, who tells us about her reading experiences and shares her ideas about mindfulness and reading. She also gives us tips on practising mindfulness and recommends books to read more about it. She shares strategies to include more reading and story-telling in our classrrom teaching.

Jane is the author of our resource book Energising Your Classroom and co-author of Jetstream, our series for adult learners. She started out as a volunteer teacher in Rwanda more than forty years ago, and since then she has taught English and trained teachers all over the world. She has won the ESU Duke of Edinburgh Award for her ELT courses and books for teachers three times, and she has also written readers, children’s stories, BBC radio and video materials as well as innovative personal development books for teachers, including the acclaimed In Your Hands and Handing Over. Jane is also an international NLP trainer, a stress management consultant and a Pilates instructor. Continue Reading →