February 13, 2019
by Nora Nagy
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Five classics for 2019: The Invisible Man

We have five classics for you and your students to explore this year. When we read a story, we read so much more than the plot. Stories, and especially classics, open the door to multiple worlds, which we can become exciting territories for classroom activities and projects. In this series we give a short overview of our new stories: the author, the plot, the characters, the adaptation, the various classroom learning possibilities and some background information about the creation of the reader. The classroom learning projects are mostly CLIL projects (history, science, geography, literature, philosophy, psychoglogy, art) and language areas. Apart from these short overviews, we also prepare detailed lesson and project plans for each title. Watch out for these posts on our blog.

In this post we introduce The Invisible Man by H.G. Wells (Level 4). The adaptation was written by Donatella Velluti, activities were written by Mary Tomalin, and the story was illustrated by Paolo Masiero.

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February 7, 2019
by Nora Nagy
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A love of libraries: 9 steps towards building your classroom library

Library in the e-reader The Sound of Silence by Martyn Hobbs.
Illustrated by Gabriella Giandelli. © Helbling Languages

Building a library is no small enterprise, but it is definitely one worthy of investment. Similarly to your home or town library, a classroom library is there for generations to take care of, build and enjoy. What are the characteristics of a good library? And how can you create one from scratch? In our series about libraries (with a special focus on classroom libraries), we now take a look at the practicalities of stocking your library.

What I love about libraries is that they make the unimaginable real by providing resources in a wide range of subjects. Also, good libraries host a diverse selection of media: print, audio, video publications. I remember listening to old records in the music room, reading rare magazines and journals in the reading room, browsing albums, reading all sorts of dictionaries and borrowing DVD films from our town library. Although our very first thought is a huge bookcase packed with novels, a good library, no matter how small or large, should offer a great variety of books and places where you can sit and read them.

Here are our tips for a classroom library.

1 Ask for book donations.

Make a list and put it on the school message board.

Asking for book donations is the very first and cheapest step. Design a poster with your students asking for book donations from parents, relatives and students. They should see it as an investment in their children’s and their own future. You can also create a sheet with all the names of the people who have contributed to the library.

Help the donors by providing a list of items you need.

  • Make sure they understand the quality should be good enough.
  • All donations should be publications in English (ooks, newspapers, magazines, journals, dictionaries, albums, comic books and graphic novels).
  • CDs, videos/dvds, posters are also welcome but the emphasis should be on print.
  • Language-learning books are also a good idea, but really old ones might not be useful.
  • Graded readers and student editions of novels are the books which might be most beneficial for language learning.

2 Check out your local library.

Libraries often need to inventory their collections, and a lot of books need to be recycled. These books are often given away and you might be able to find some treasures.

You can also contact your national library centre and ask them if they have information about such events.

3 Look out for sales at bookstores and publishers.

Some bookstores and publishers often clear their stock and sell books with huge discounts (often 70-80% off). See if your school will give you funds OR have a fund-raising event such as a cake sale or reading event.

4 Ask the parents.

At the next teacher-parent meeting, share your idea of a classroom library with the parents of your students. Talk about the benefits of reading, and tell them you would like to build a library for your classes asking them if they would like to make a small financial contribution. (Obviously you, as the class teacher, will know if this is appropriate or not).

5 Talk to your headmaster and apply for funding.

Your school might be eligible for some funding to buy resources. Talk to your headmaster and ask if they know about any opportunity to support an English-language library.

6 Visit garage sales and second-hand bookshops.

Visit garage sales and talk to the owners of second-hand bookshops. When people hear that you’re dedicating your time to stocking your classroom library, they might offer you a good price on booksets.

7 Collaborate with other teachers.

Talk to other language teachers and see if you can order books from publishers or distributors at a good price. Big book orders are often easier to manage and you can get great deals.

8 Engage with a reading agency.

Are there any initiatives in your country which support language learning and reading? Approach them and they might be able to help you with your library project!

9 Contact publishers.

Publishers may be willing to donate books (especially old stock) to your library. Contact and ask.

How did you manage to build a library? Share you own ways of getting books for your classroom library!

In our new series, we address various aspects of building and managing a classroom library by discussing the following topics:

February 5, 2019
by Nora Nagy
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Five classics for 2019: Kim

We have five classics for you and your students to explore this year. When we read a story, we read so much more than the plot. Stories, and especially classics, open the door to multiple worlds, which can become exciting territories for classroom activities and projects. In this series we give a short overview of our new stories: the author, the plot, the characters, the adaptation, the various classroom learning possibilities and some background information about the creation of the reader. The classroom learning projects are mostly CLIL projects (history, science, geography, literature, philosophy, psychoglogy, art) and language areas. Apart from these short overviews, we also prepare detailed lesson and project plans for each title. Watch out for these posts on our blog.

In this post we introduce Kim by Rudyard Kipling (Level 3 reader). The adaptation and activities were written by Janet Borsbey and Ruth Swan, and the story was illustrated by Gianluca Garofalo.

The other new titles are:

1 Who is the author?

Facts about Rudyard Kipling’s life

  • Rudyard Kipling was born in 1865 in Bombay (now Mumbai), India.
  • His parents were both English, and when Kipling was five years old, he went to school in England.
  • He hated leaving India and his home to go to school.
  • When he left school, he returned to India and worked for a newspaper.
  • After a successfully published collection of short stories, he decided to become a full-time writer in 1889.
  • He travelled a lot
  • He lived for a while in the United States.
  • In the early 20th century, Kipling was one of the most widely read writers in the English language.
  • Kipling also wrote poems.
  • In 1907, he won the Nobel Prize for Literature.
  • He died in London in 1936.

2 What do we need to know about the story?

It is the story of a journey through India. Kim is a British boy, who lost his parents and now lives in India. When he meets a lama from Tibet, he decides to travel with him in his search for a special river. However, it is not just a simple adventure story as Kim is also training to become a secret agent and he is learning about the world at the same time.

Like many other novels in the 19th century, the story was first published as a series for a monthly magazine.

The setting

The story is set in British India between 1893 to 1898, after the Second Anglo-Afghan War. Kim’s journey begins in Lahore (now in Pakistan), and he spends time in Simla, another important city in Northern India.

The characters

The characters in Kim. Illustration by Gianluca Garofalo. © Helbling 2019

3 Why did we choose this title for adaptation?

Having used ‘Kim’s game’ in class time and time again to teach and revise vocabulary, the next natural step was to adapt his story for language-learners to enjoy. Kim combines a great story with beautiful descriptions of life in India, the exciting context of the ‘Great Game’, plus a spiritual dimension that is very contemporary. We hope you enjoy it!

4 How can you use this reader for language learning? 

CLIL and discussion topics

Choose one discussion and research topic for a group of students to explore.

HISTORY:

  • British India and the Great Game
  • Espionage

GEOGRAPHY AND BIOLOGY:

  • India
  • India’s endangered animals

OTHER:

  • Identity
  • India’s religions
  • Code breaking

Watch out for our project lesson plans for more detailed activities based on these topics.

Language stuctures

  • Narrative tenses (simple past, past continuous and present perfect)
  • Pronouns: reflexive, relative
  • should, shouldn’t

Vocabulary development

  • Describing feelings and sensations
  • Describing the natural world
  • Travel
  • Military lexis
  • Religious lexis

5 How did we create the reader?

The original text of the novel was simplified for elementary-level learners, avoiding complex grammar and sentence structures and minor plot strands that may lead to confusion. The vocabulary is only simplified as much as it is necessary to make it comprehensible for language learners at this stage.

The story was illustrated by Gianluca Garofalo.

Here is a simple chart about our reading levels.

Helbling Reader levels.

Read more stories in the Helbling Readers series written by Rudyard Kipling:

January 24, 2019
by Nora Nagy
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Five classics for 2019: A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court

We have five classics for you and your students to explore this year. When we read a story, we read so much more than the plot. Stories, and especially classics, open the door to multiple worlds, which we can become exciting territories for classroom activities and projects. In this series we give a short overview of our new stories: the author, the plot, the characters, the adaptation, the various classroom learning possibilities and some background information about the creation of the reader. The classroom learning projects are mostly CLIL projects (history, science, geography, literature, philosophy, psychoglogy, art) and language areas. Apart from these short overviews, we also prepare detailed lesson and project plans for each title. Watch out for these posts on our blog.

In this post we introduce A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court written by Mark Twain (Level 2). The adaptation and the activities were written by Scott Lauder and Walter McGregor, and the story was illustrated by Andrea Alemanno.

The other new titles are:

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January 22, 2019
by Nora Nagy
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Five classics for 2019: The Adventures of Doctor Dolittle

We have five classics for you and your students to explore this year. When we read a story, we read so much more than the plot. Stories, and especially classics, open the door to multiple worlds, which we can become exciting territories for classroom activities and projects. In this series we give a short overview of our new stories: the author, the plot, the characters, the adaptation, the various classroom learning possibilities and some background information about the creation of the reader. The classroom learning projects are mostly CLIL projects (history, science, geography, literature, philosophy, psychoglogy, art) and language areas. Apart from these short overviews, we also prepare detailed lesson and project plans for each title. Watch out for these posts on our blog.

In this post we introduce The Adventures of Doctor Dolittle written by Hugh Lofting (Level 1). The adaptation and the activities were written by Jennifer Gascoigne, and the story was illustrated by Lorenzo Sabbatini.

The other new titles are:

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