March 8, 2019
by Nora Nagy
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Inspiring teachers: teaching young learners in Italy

Mascia Calcich

In this series we talk to inspiring teachers who use stories and storytelling to set up reading programmes and creative projects, and use the arts and literature to develop their students’ language and literacy skills. We share real examples from real teachers to show how small ideas can make powerful learning activities. When teachers share their techniques and experiences, with us, the first thing we notice is that no matter how diverse our world is, our students are interested in similar issues and enjoy doing similar creative tasks.

This month we talked to Mascia Calcich, who decided to teach young learners after 11 years of working as an interpreter, translator and technical consultant in the worlds of business and law. She completed a specialization course in Language Teaching to Children at the Sapienza University of Rome. Mascia is an Italian-French bilingual. She runs Diventare e Crescere Bilingui, a language school which specializes in bilingual education for young learners from  6 months to spproximately 9 years old. Her teaching focuses mostly on toddlers and 3-5-year-old children. Continue Reading →

February 28, 2019
by Nora Nagy
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Deborah’s dreams: how stories can make a difference

The graphic novel Jane, the Fox & Me by Fanny Britt and Isabelle Arsenault shows us that books and reading can work as protective shields, safe zones and islands of self-discovery. Of course, reading has more dimensions than those. Books can make you dream, help you travel in time and take you to imaginary places with fantastic creatures. This is what happens in Deborah’s dreams, our new picture book in The Thinking Train series for young learners, written by Herbert Puchta and Gavin Briggs and illustrated by Viola Niccolai. Moreover, Deborah’s dreams also shows us what Neil Gaiman talks about in his lecture How Stories Last: ‘But stories aren’t books — books are just one of the many storage mechanisms in which stories can be kept. And, obviously, people are one of the other storage mechanisms’.

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February 26, 2019
by Nora Nagy
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Beat the bullies through books: a review of Jane, the Fox & Me

“I told her, You’ll see, the story ends well.”

Did you have any books in your childhood and teenage years which surrounded you with a protective haze? The ones which made you feel safe and ‘normal’ and where the world was a wondrous place? Books where you could escape, whose main characters you could secretly (or openly) relate to, books that inspired you and gave you hope and the courage to go on? Books which didn’t make you feel like a stranger, but rather that you had friends just a page away. Jane, the Fox & Me written by Fanny Britt and illustrated by Isabelle Arsenault is one of those books. It is a graphic coming-of-age story for pre-teens and teens as much as it is a story for adults. We also think that it is a great book for language learners as not only will students feel connected to the characters (who range from cool-kid gangs through your everyday nerds and outcasts), but they will also find lots of fun language resources to explore. And the real help lies in the visual world of the book, as it will support the language learner just enough to make sure they never feel lost.

Recently I  showed the book to a varied bunch of younger and older friends, and it stirred up memories and emotions in every single one of them. The story works on multiple levels to tell the story of Hélenè, a young teenager who is picked on by the usual bullies at school.  Hélenè is confused and hurt by the situation and isolates herself. The only refuge she finds is in reading Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë. Continue Reading →

February 19, 2019
by Nora Nagy
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Five classics for 2019: The Age of Innocence

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 The Age of Innocence by Edith Wharton (Level 5). The adaptation and activities were written by Nora Nagy and the story was illustrated by Simone Manfrini.

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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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