In the first part of our series focusing on different approaches to and models of reading we revised the Four Resources model of reading (Luke and Freebody 1999). To show you how this model can work in action, this week we look at practical ways of approaching texts through the four models. So far we have looked at how this model can work with early stages of learning, and offered some questions for each resource based on the Helbling Classic Young Reader, The Hare and the Tortoise, and then The Time Capsule, an original reader for elementary and pre-intermediate readers. Now we will read a higher level Helbling Reader, the ever-popular Great Expectations by Charles Dickens.
Reading Great Expectations by Charles Dickens
Here’s the summary of the story, adapted for Helbling Readers by Jennifer Gascoigne and illustrated by Valentina Russello:
When poor orphan Pip falls in love with the rich and beautiful Estella he never imagines that he, too, one day will have money. After Mr Jaggers tells Pip he has great expectations and a secret rich benefactor, Pip moves to London and starts a new life as a gentleman. He hopes to win Estella’s heart but soon learns that money is not the only answer. Why does Estella always make Pip suffer? Who is Pip’s secret benefactor?
From text participant to code breaker
Drawing on background knowledge is undoubtedly the first step when reading classics as theyare often challenging for teen readers. You can start by watching the trailer of a film adaptation to raise interest and ask your students to reflect on their own expectations. Plus you can ask students to think about context and activate background knowledge through the images.
As ‘text participants’ you can expect answers to these questions in the readers’ first language or simple answers in English:
- What did you want to become when you were in elementary school?
- How do you see yourself in five, ten and fifteen years’ time?
- How did people live in the 19th century?
- What are the main themes in the novel?
- Have you ever felt like Pip in (specify scenes of the novel)?
- Find cultural references to the Victorian age in the novel.
When you are reading the text as a ‘code breaker’:
- New and difficult words are marked with an orange dot, so you can focus more on these by pointing out references in the illustrations or explanations in the glossary.
- Practise shared reading and act out dialogues in the text, focusing on pronunciation and intonation.
- Do the language activities built around the story.
- There are some words in the story which rely on the imaginative use of language. Find and explain humorous expressions and phrases which are distant or difficult for some reason.
- Register is also represented in the novel by various speech patterns. Find differences and similarities between the language use and style of various characters.
From code breaker to text analysts and users
This step does not need to be too detailed and can rely on only certain implicit observations.
As ‘text analysts’, answer these questions:
- Who is the narrator of this story? (It is told in first person narration with a lots of dialogues.)
- Can you recognise any stereotypical characters in the story?
- How is the story structured? (The narrator is looking back on his own life.)
- Who is the writer of the story?
- Who is the narrator? (Point out the difference between the narrator (Pip) and the writer (Dickens) of the story.)
- What can we learn from this story?
- Does the writer represent a critical point of view?
- Is the narrator reliable?
- What kind of social criticism is present in the story?
- What can we learn about the main character’s development?
As ‘text users’, think about these questions:
- Look at the images and before reading the text and write your own captions for them.
- Use the images after reading the story to retell the plot.
- Find different types of texts in the book: images, glossary, reflection boxes with questions, activities.
- Which of these text types form the story and which are for language learners?
- How would you write the story of your own life? Would you use similar narrative techniques?
The four models work independently but they are also connected to each other, you can decide which models you would like to focus on during the shared reading of the story.
Share your own questions and tasks with us in the comments below.
Check out all the other articles and lesson tips in our Four Resources model of reading series:
- Resourceful Reading Teachers 1: Four Resources Model of Reading
- Resourceful Reading Teachers 1: Four Resources Model of Reading in Action 1
- Resourceful Reading Teachers 1: Four Resources Model of Reading in Action 2
Here you can find more lesson plans and ideas on using Great Expectations: