Masaryk University in Brno Faculty of Education Department of English Language and Literature TIPS FOR USING FANTASY BOOKS WITH TEENAGERS Diploma Thesis Brno 2009 Supervisor: Written by: PhDr. Alena Kasparkova Katerina Varechova 1 Acknowledgements: I would like to give special thanks to my supervisor, PhDr. Alena Kasparkova, for her kind help and advice. She willingly commented on my thesis. 2 Declaration: I declare that I worked on the thesis on my own and that I consulted and used only the sources listed in the bibliography.
I agree that my thesis will be kept at the library of the Faculty of Education of Masaryk University in Brno and be available for the purposes of study only. April 15, 2009 “Let books be your dining table, And you shall be full of delights, Let them be your mattress, And you shall sleep restful nights. ” St. EPHREM the Syrian (303-373) Why should teachers use children? literature, especially fantasy books, in TEFL at basic schools? Is it good or useful to use fantasy books and literary texts with teenagers at basic schools? Is there any relationship between literature and the study of language? Are teenagers at basic schools able to read literary texts and fantasy books from British and American literature in the original? The aim of the thesis is to present the principles and tips of using fantasy books with teenagers at basic schools, especially on the basis of my interest in this topic and through my own teaching experience. My diploma thesis is divided into two parts.
In the first theoretical part it deals with general questions relating to the use of children? s literature and fantasy books with teenagers. It also gives some reasons why language teachers should include children? s literature and fantasy books in English lessons. It demonstrates teachers? motivational strategies that can be used to support teenagers? interest in literature. It also tries to answer how teenage literature can help teenagers to develop their language. The second practical part offers using teenage literature and fantasy books with teenagers in practice.
It provides examples of activities used with teenagers in English lessons based on three famous fantasy stories. The practical part also includes a short research with 7th, 8th and 9th graders which provides the results of the pupils? attitudes and interests in teenage literature and fantasy books. 6 1. WHO ARE TEENAGERS? Teenager according to the Macmillan English Dictionary for Advanced Learners can be defined as “a young person between the ages of 13 and 19” (2002:1474). Another interesting definition can be found on the Internet web site Wikipedia The Free Encyclopedia: “Adolescence (lat.
Adolescere, to grow) is a transitional stage of physical and mental human development that occurs between childhood and adulthood. This transition involves biological, social, and psychological changes. ” According to The Royal College of Psychiatrists during adolescence there can appear a large gulf between parents and their children or between teachers and their students. Teenagers can come across a lot of problems during their puberty, such as: • Physical problems – physical changes of the body • Psychological problems – people of this age start to think and feel differently •
Sexual problems – sexual ability and experiences are very sensitive topic • Behaviour problems – teenagers and their parents or teachers usually complain about each other? s behaviour • School problems – teenagers often refuse to go to school for some reasons, for example emotional problems, bullying, etc. • Eating problems – weight can be a big problem during puberty • Drugs and alcohol – many teenagers experiment with alcohol and illegal drugs (2004). Difficult times come and go, but most adolescents do not develop serious problems. It is important to say that, not only parents but also teachers can have a positive impact on teenagers? ives. Teenagers are probably the most interesting but also the most problematic students to teach. Each teacher has to remember that teenagers are often very sensitive and brittle. Teenagers are very sensitive about their identities, tired of school and bored with nearly everything. They value love and friendship very much, they do not want to lose their face in front of their peers, they are often undisciplined and difficult to motivate. For most teenagers, the teacher may not be the person who wants to help, but rather the 7 potential enemy. At this age, it is vital to get the level of challange right.
Where this level is low the teenagers are usually bored and not satisfied, where it is high they are discouraged and de-motivated. It is the teacher? s task, to make language teaching interesting for the students. According to my experience, it is very important to find interesting topics for teenagers, treat them like adults, encourage them to express themselves, and accept their own views and opinions. Literature is definitely a very good resource for the teenagers. It can help them to develop their moral values, or to decide what can be the best way to go, what is right.
In general, it can help them to go through this difficult period. Reading books, according to my opinion, belongs to one of the best hobbies. As far as I can remember from my teen years, reading make you think. To think about moral values, about relationships, about cultural differences, about differences among people, or maybe to think about the whole world. To take, for example, Harry Potter books, the teenagers can see and understand better the relationships among each other. They can learn that it is very important to have good friends who are always ready to help. Another example could be Roald Dahl? book Charlie and the Chocolate Factory where the moral values of the characters are described not only in the good but also in bad ways. The teenagers are not always behaving in a right way and this book offers also one lesson, that such behaving does not usually mean an award. 2. IMPORTANCE OF MOTIVATION One of the most important thing in using children? s and fantasy literature is motivation. Motivation is inseparable part of teacher? s job. Further on to agree with Harmer that “motivation is some kind of internal drive that encourages somebody to pursue a course of action.
If we perceive a goal and if that goal is sufficiently attractive, we will be strongly motivated to do whatever is necessary to reach that goal” (1991:3). 8 Goals can be very different, and individuality of a person plays a big part of it. The useful distinction can be between: • Short-term goals – for example to pass a test; to read a book, etc. • Long-term goals – to communicate with people of a target language community; to get a better job, to change the attitude towards reading; to be successful, etc. According to my teaching experience, short as well as long term goals are very important for most of the teenagers.
Even though most of them will never admit it, they like to show off among their friends, they want to be successful and better than their peers, and some of them want to be even better than their parents or teachers. Reading books in English could be a big challange for them. Harmer divides motivation into two categories (1991:3): • Extrinsic motivation • Intrinsic motivation Extrinsic motivation is concerned with factors outside the classroom, and the factors can be, for example student? s attitude to the language, parents? attitude to the language, student? previous experience as language learner, student? s attitude to the reading in general and important parts are also teacher and student? s peers. On the contrary, intrinsic motivation is concerned with factors inside the classroom. Such factors can be physical conditions, method, the teacher and success. It can have a possitive effect on learning and using literary texts if the teacher tries to make the classroom as pleasant as possible (e. g. pictures or students? works connected to the reading on the walls, board easily visible). The methods the teacher is using are also very important.
Interesting methods and activities can surely be motivating for students, but if the method is boring the students can become de-motivated. Still one of the well-known activity among the Czech teachers is to read any English text chosen by the teacher, translate it into Czech and answer some questions prepared again by the teacher. It does not take much time to 9 prepare but it will definitely not motivate the students, especially teenagers to read for pleasure. One of the most important factor affecting intrinsic motivation is the teacher. For students, according to researches, the teacher? personality and relationship with students are very important parts. Other things which students appreciate are interesting and motivating classes, teacher? s fairness to all students and also teacher? s knowledge of the subject. To motivate the teenagers to read for pleasure can be a difficult task for the teacher, especially in the world of modern technologies and computers. As the researchers say, the teacher? s personality is very important for students, and it can be a big advantage in reading classes if the teacher shows his or her own enthusiasm for reading. The students? uccess or failure can influence intrinsic motivation, too. All teenagers at the basic schools are able to read, some of them are better readers and some of them are worse. It is on the teacher how he or she sets the goals and tasks at which the students can be successful. Students, especially teenagers, need to see a point to working with literary texts. Many of them have grown up with watching TV, playing computer games, chatting on the Internet or reading magazines and comics popular among teenagers. But these media provide a short-term satisfaction, they change topic and scene fast and do not need full concentration.
On the contrary, reading books requires concentration and patience. Therefore, a lot of teachers agree that using literature in English language classes can be very difficult and demanding task. But what can be also very important for students is the teacher? s own enthusiasm for literature. It is necessary to agree with Carter and Long that “students will be better motivated to read a literary text if they can relate it to their own experience” (1991:19). As it has been already mentioned above, motivation belongs to foreground in the classroom. 10 3. CHILDREN? S AND JUVENILE LITERATURE AND FANTASY BOOKS IN ENGLISH LANGUAGE
TEACHING To use children? s or juvenile literature in language teaching is still not a common practice at basic schools. This is partly because using literature in the lessons can be time-consuming, and partly because some teachers feel that they do not know how to use literary texts with children. Therefore, the purpose of this chapter is to explain what children? s literature is, what fantasy books are, and why to use them in the English lessons. 3. 1 What is children? s literature? Children? s literature according to the Internet web site Wikipedia The Free Encyclopedia “… is for readers and listeners up to about age 12.
The term applies to books that are actually selected and read by children. ” Another interesting definition is given by Pokrivcakova: “Children? s and juvenile literature is a notion used for a set of literary texts (fiction, drama, poetry, and some non-fiction) written especially for children between the ages of one and sixteen”(2003:9). It is clear that most of children? s literature is read by children, but many classic books that were originally mentioned for adults are now thought of as works for children, for example Daniel Defoe? s Robinson Crusoe or Mark Twain? Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. On the other hand some works originally written for children are also read and enjoyed by adults, for example J. K. Rowling? s series of Harry Potter. 11 3. 2 What does fantasy mean? Fantasy according to the Macmillan English Dictionary for Advanced Learners can be defined as “a story that shows a lot of imagination and is very different from real life”(2002:503). Undoubtedly, children of all ages like to read fantasy books and enjoy watching fantasy stories, including fairy tales, animal and toy fantasies or sword and sorcery stories.
Further on to agree with Pokrivcakova that fantasy is a genre that has become very popular in these years, especially because of J. R. R. Tolkien? s Lord of the Rings or J. K. Rowling? s Harry Potter (2003:99). According to her: “fantasy is a form of speculative fiction, which is an internationally recognised term for non-mimetic literature (it is not built rigidly on a mimesis principle; on the contrary, it includes both realistic and fantastical elements). ” As she also mentions, there are some differences between the “real” and fantastic world.
Fantastic or the secondary world is strange, bizarre or marvellous and it usually has its own rules; the ordinary logic or law of nature is inverted or subverted; frequently the imaginary kingdoms can appear; time is shifting regularly; some different ways can be used to enter it; and it is usually inhabited by strange creatures (2003:99). 3. 3 Why to use children? s literature and fantasy books? Literature has always had a great influence on each language; both literature and language have in general undergone a lot of important changes throughout the centuries, influencing each other.
There are many reasons for using children? s literature and fantasy books with teenagers in English lessons. Fantasy books are great for young children and teenagers because they show imagination and suspension of reality, the things that children, especially teenagers, are 12 good at. Fantasy literature is popular among children and teenagers because it introduces them the pleasure of reading from young age. Children? s fantasy stories can help to build positive reading habits in children and teenagers. As Pokrivcakova says “quality fantasy literature is generally considered to be a good exercise of children? imagination and creativity. It also bears a serious deal of morality in itself: the struggle between good and evil, questions of loyalty and devotion to friends, problems of decision-making and personal responsibility are probably the most frequent motives in fantastic stories” (2003:100). Carter and Long offer three reasons for the teaching literature: • “The cultural model: “Teaching literature within a cultural model enables students to understand and appreciate not only cultures and ideologies that are different from their own but also their own cultural roots. ” •
The language model: One of the main reasons for a paying teacher? s attention to a language model is, “to put students in touch with some of the more subtle and varied creative uses of language. ” • The personal growth model: One of the main point for teachers is “to help students to achieve an engagement with the reading of literary texts” (1991:2). According to Duff and Maley there are three other reasons for using literary texts: linguistic, methodological, and motivational. • Linguistic – literary texts offer a lot of “samples of wide range of styles, registers, and text-types at many levels of difficulty. ” •
Methodological – literary texts offer various interpretation and interaction among students. 13 • Motivational – literary text can be a motivator because “it often touches on themes to which students can bring a personal response from their own experience” (1992:6). Fenwick gives more universal reasons for using children? s literature in the English lessons: “We should teach it, for instance, because it can help to improve children? s reading. Equally important, it can help to improve their attitudes to reading. And by studying literature it is certainly possible for children to become more effective writers. Then there is a social factor.
The majority of teachers who have much to do with either adult or juvenile fiction are probably aware of its civilising potential. Used sensitively, literature can help children to come to terms with the real world. It can also allow them to fantasise in a harmless way. It can even be a form of escapism and, provided it is not overdone, there is little harm in that” (1990). To sum up this chapter, we can agree with Halliwell that: “Children delight in imagination and fantasy. …It is more than simply a matter of enjoyment, however. In the primary school, children are very busy making sense of the world about them.
They are identifying pattern and also deviation from the pattern. They test out their versions of the world through fantasy and confirm how the world actually is by imagining how it might be different. In the language classroom this capacity for fantasy and imagination has a very constructive part to play” (1992:7). Children? s fantasy literature can be an important part of English language classrooms. The right choice of the book can offer students new vocabulary, provides repetition of key words and phrases, and it can be a pleasure for the student to finish a piece of literature written in English. 4 4. SELECTING AND EVALUATING SUITABLE LITERATURE To choose the right book may be the most difficult and important part of teaching literature. If the level of the text or the content of the story are too easy, the students become bored, on the other hand, if they are too difficult, the students feel frustrated. The teacher, dealing with the teenagers at the basic school, should not choose, for example, a simple story as The Cat in the Hat can be, but Ulysses by James Joyce is also not the right decisions. Many teenagers say that reading in English is very difficult.
They often complain that they do not understand the text and that is why they do not read. As Lazar says, there are three main areas the teacher should think about: • type of course – the teacher should think about for example, level of students; how intensive the course is; what kind of texts will be the most suitable • type of students – here the teacher should include age of students; students? interests or hobbies; cultural and ethnic background • factors connected with the text itself – for example, availability of texts; length of text; exploitability; fit with syllabus (1993:48).
What can be very difficult for the teacher is to apply these categories to the whole class. According to my teaching experience, most of the English classes at the basic schools are heterogeneous. It means that the level of the students is different, and also students? interests and hobbies are not usually the same. Nowadays, it is also normal, that teachers meet students from various cultures and ethnic minorities, and what is usual in one culture, in other can be totally different. The teacher needs to find a text which is suitable for most students in the class.
Lazar designed a checklist (app. 1) which can help to summarise these criteria (1993:56). 15 As Brown writes in his article for The Internet TESL Journal, when evaluating potential books, the teacher has to bear in mind the length and complexity of the story; the level of vocabulary; illustrations which can help students to understand both the vocabulary and the text; and his or her own enthusiams about a story (2004). For comparison with Lazar or Brown, Ellis and Brewster provide a detailed criteria (app. 2) which deal with five major objectives of language teaching.
They are then expanded into questions that the teacher can ask him or herself when choosing a book. Linguistic, psychological, cognitive, social and cultural objectives are mentioned here and they are related to criteria used for selecting storybooks (2002:11). 4. 1 My criteria for choosing the text When I am deciding which text would be appropriate for my students, I have to consider several factors. Level Choosing the right level of the text belongs to essential factors I have to bear in mind. Teachers should be careful not to choose the text which would be either too difficult or too easy for their students.
If the level of the text is too high, students get confused and lose interest in reading it. On the contrary, if the text is too easy, there is no challange for students to work and think about language because both grammar and vocabulary are clear and they get bored. The most appropriate level of a chosen text is the one where students have enough language knowledge to understand the main idea of the text but, at the same time, are encouraged to look for the meaning of unknown words and structures. This guarantees students? ustaining interest and concentration. Moreover, at the end of the lesson they should have the feeling of accomplishing something – mastering new vocabulary items or grammar structure. 16 Content Based on my personal experience, considering the content is important especially when dealing with young children or teenagers. We need to get them interested in the story and maintain their concentration and enjoyment to ensure a good learning atmosphere. Content plays a vital role in choosing the right text and it also influences students? enjoyment of the lesson.
As far as I can remember from my teen years, my favourite genres were books for girls, fantasy stories and adventure stories. According to my experience, fantasy books are still very popular among teenagers especially thank to Harry Potter and The Lord of the Rings series. It can be very useful and interesting to provide the teenagers with some samples of different books and give them the chance to choose one by themselves. Illustrations Basic school teachers know the importance of illustrations and pictures in the text because they are familiar with children nature and necessity of play in lessons.
Illustrations support childrens? understanding, attract their attention and enable their interaction with the story. Motivation Motivation is closely connected with the content of the text. The more interesting content, the more motivated students are to read the story. It should arouse their curiousity and make them want to find out more about English language and also culture. The story has to provoke a desire to continue reading and learning from it. Motivating students by a good choice of the text can be important and interesting even for those, who regard books as useless, to changing their negative attitudes towards reading.
Once they start building their confidence in reading, they take it up as their hobby, which is the main objective of every language teacher. 17 4. 2 Selecting fantasy books Further on to agree with Zaro and Salaberri it is necessary to state that it can be very difficult to find the main topics or areas of interest for teenagers. They may prefer to read contemporary stories which relate to their world, but we can say that fantasy stories are still interesting for them, even though they like more modern adaptations, for example science fiction (1995:4).
Fantasy has a long history which begins in Greek and Roman mythology. According to Pokrivcakova there are these sub-genres of fantasy: • Animal and toy fantasies • Fantasies with eccentric characters and superhero fantasies • High fantasy • Comic fantasy • Dark (horror) fantasy (2003:100). Animal and toy fantasy According to Pokrivcakova stories about animals are very popular among children and teenagers. “… the attractiveness of fantastic animal stories results from children? s view of life and the world in which the ability of animals to act as human beings is absolutely realistic” (2003:101).
One of the most famous authors of classic animal fantasies was R. J. Kipling and his Jungle Book. Other authors who should be mentioned are Helen Beatrix Potter and her book The Tale of Peter Rabbit, and American writer Elwyn Brooks White and his Stuart Little. Toy fantasy is a sub-genre of animal fantasy, where the character is a humanised toy. The most well-known toy story is Winnie the Pooh by Alan Alexander Milne. 18 Fantasy with eccentric characters and superhero fantasy There are a lot of books in children? s and juvenile literature where in the main part is an eccentric hero.
Some of the most famous are Peter Pan written by Sir James Matthew Barrie, Marry Poppins by Pamela L. Travers and nowadays probably the bestselling Harry Potter by Joanne Kathleen Rowling. High fantasy It is another sub-genre of fantastic literature and its main features are spatial and temporary setting in parallel, or completely invented worlds. As Pokrivcakova says “high fantasies are always serious in tone, often dealing with the theme of the struggle between good and extreme evil” (2003:116). Some of the most popular high fantasies are J. R. R. Tolkien? s The Lord of the Rings and Clive Staples Lewis? The Chronicles of Narnia. 4. 3 Authentic materials vs. Simplified materials What is the difference between authentic and non-authentic texts? Simenson classifies materials for extensive reading into three types: “‘authentic’ (not written for language learners and published in the original language); ‘pedagogic’ (specially written for language learners with various types of control placed on the language); and ‘adapted’ (adapted for language learners from authentic texts according to various principles of control set out by editors and publishers in guidelines for adaptors)” (1987:41-57).
As Hedge suggests “for teachers of students with more advanced levels of language proficiency, especially those working with ESL learners in an English language environment, there may well be authentic material to hand. However, for EFL teachers with learners at lower levels of language proficiency, the choice seems limited to pedagogic or adapted readers. In choosing such material, the teacher is following the same principle as when choosing a textbook of appropriate language level” (2000:218). 19
According to Harmer authentic texts are designed for native speakers and nonauthentic texts are written especially for language students (1991:185). The advantage of using authentic texts is that the students can see a language as the author used it in the book. On the other hand, some of the authentic books may be very difficult to read and understand for students. On the contrary, there are specific books in which the language is simplified and abridged to make the book easy for language learners to read and understand. The book market offers a wide range of simplified readers at all language levels.
Learners may choose classical literature or contemporary literature in different genres, e. g. detective stories, fantasies, adventure stories, science-fiction, etc. Harmer suggests three reasons for using literature in language teaching – to become better readers, to acquire language and to achieve some success, and therefore he recommends to use authentic as well as non-authentic materials in language teaching (1991:186). Dealing mostly with the heterogeneous classes I have to agree with the experts that not only authentic but also non-authentic or adapted texts can be very useful in language teaching.
For example, for some really clever pupil is the major success to read Tolkien? s The Lord of the Rings in original but on the other hand for a weaker student reading a simplified version of e. g. The Jungle Book can be also very successful and motivating. Is is necessary to agree with Carter and Long that “learners of a language cannot be expected to read major prose works in the target language when they are still at elementary or intermediate level. It is for such learners that a very wide selection of readers is available. The purpose of these texts is to improve reading skills.
The principle of selection is that the work selected has a good story line, and has continued to be enjoyed by readers” (1991:146). The Longman Simplified English Series, which has a wide variety of titles, explains the aim as “to enable thousands of readers to enjoy without great difficulty some of the 20 best books written in the English language, and in doing so, to equip themselves in the pleasantest possible way, to understand and appreciate any work written in English. ” 5. HOW TO USE CHILDREN? S AND JUVENILE LITERATURE AND FANTASY BOOKS
Widdowson states that “reading can be seen as a kind of dialogue between the reader and the text, or even between the reader and the author” (1979a). Another interesting definition is written by Harmer: “Reading is an exercise dominated by the eyes and the brain. The eyes receive messages and the brain then has to work out the significance of these messages” (1991:190). The advantage of reading is that the reader can decide how fast he or she wants to read a text, in comparison with listening, where the listener has to do his best with a text whose speed is chosen by the speaker.
During reading the book the reader can think, make connections, agree or disagree with the author or find out better solutions than the writer. Reading literature is definitely a source of pleasure and it helps to develop a person in general. 5. 1 Reading as a purposeful process Pugh (1978) and Lunzer and Gardner (1979) described different styles of reading in their reading research project, and their terminology is used in ELT methodology: • Receptive reading – is undertaken, for example, when a reader wants to enjoy a short story, follow a line of argument in a newspaper editorial, or understand the main stages in a textbook description of a manufacturing process. • Reflective reading – involves episodes of reading the text and then pausing to reflect and backtrack, for example, when a reader wants to check whether a new 21 line of argument in a political text is consistent with opinions expressed earlier in the same article. • Skim reading – is used to get a global impression of the content of a text.
An example would be previewing a long magazine article by reading rapidly, skipping large chunks of information, and focusing on headings and first lines of paragraphs. • Scanning – involves searching rapidly through a text to find a specific point of information, for example, the relevant times on a timetable, items in a directory, or key points in a academic text. • Intensive reading – involves looking carefully at a text, as a student of literature would look at a poem to appreciate the choice of words, or as a solicitor would study the precise wording of a legal document. The main point of making these distinctions is that different purposes for reading determine different strategies in approaching texts and also different rates of reading. Nowadays it becomes standard practice in ELT methodology to consider real purposes for reading outside the classroom and to include them in reading activities. Rivers and Temperley, for example, make the point that: “Reading activities, from the beginning, should have some purpose and we should concentrate on the normal purposes of reading” (1978:187).
The purpose can be of different kinds, for example, to get information; to answer the curiosity about a topic; to follow instructions to do a task; for pleasure, amusement, and personal enjoyment; to keep in touch with friends and colleagues; or to know what is happening in the world. It is necessary to say that these purposes for reading can be easily adapted to using children? s and juvenile literature and fantasy books with teenagers. Because in our society English becomes part of language learners? environment, these purposes may be real-life ones for most of them.
They can get information from the books, fantasy stories usually evoke curiosity and since fantasy literature is very popular among teenagers, they can keep in touch with their friends what is usually very important for young 22 people. Also reading and using fantasy books and stories can be enjoyable and amusing for them. Even where it can be difficult to identify any needs, there still may be some motivational reasons for giving teenagers a range of purposes for reading and presenting them with a variety of texts, for example, articles, poems, or short stories.
Not many coursebooks provide classroom activities to slow, intensive study of texts. Fortunately, it is now common for most teachers to find and use activities which encourage different speeds of reading, and different degrees of pre-reading and rereading, and searching through the text. As Hedge explains “more importantly, however, it is now recognized that one text may be read in a variety of styles, and that readers will have different purposes at each stage of the reading process and will apply the appropriate strategies” (2000:196). . 2 Extensive and intensive reading There are two main reading styles which can be defined as extensive and intensive reading. McRae says that: “Extensive reading implies that students read outside the classroom fuller texts than the passages examined in class for purely language-learning purposes” (1991:43). The materials used for extensive reading can be anything, for example, from short stories, or newspaper or magazines articles, to full-length fantasy books.
Another interesting definition can be provided in the article by Bamford and Day that “extensive reading is generally associated with reading large amounts with the aim of getting an overall understanding of the material. Readers are more concerned with the meaning of the text than the meaning of individual words or sentences” (1997). Further on to agree with Hedge it is necessary to state that the characteristics of extensive reading may change with student motivation and institutional resources, but it might include the following: • eading large quantities of text, such as short stories and novels, newspaper and magazine articles, or professional reading • reading over time on a frequent and regular basis 23 • reading longer texts (not only a few paragraphs) • reading for general meaning, usually for pleasure, curiosity, or professional interest • reading longer texts during class time but it is also important to engage in an individual, independent reading at home, ideally of self-selected material (2002:202). Extensive reading is usually a matter of enthusiasm and generally it must be transferred from the teacher to the student.
On the contrary, according to Bamford and Day “intensive reading often refers to the careful reading or translation of shorter, more difficult foreign language texts with the goal of complete and detailed understanding” (1997). Activities used for intensive reading mostly involve close study of texts and present students the features of written English. Hedge says that: “Teachers can train reading strategies by using intensive reading but it is only through more extensive reading that learners can gain substantial practice in operating these strategies more independently on a range of material” (2000:202).
The relationship between intensive reading lessons and extensive reading programmes is demonstrated in (app. 3) (Hedge, 1985:70). It provides the main and the most important differences between extensive and intensive reading. 5. 3 The three phases of reading Ur? s definition of reading is that: “Reading means ‘reading and understanding’. A foreign language learner who says, ‘I can read the words but I don? t know what they mean’ is not, therefore reading, in this sense.
He or she is merely decoding-translating written symbols into corresponding sounds” (1996:138). It becomes now normal practice in creating the reading tasks to use a three-phase procedure, that means pre-, while-, and post-reading stages. Nowadays many publishing houses, for example, Macmillan Heinemann ELT, Oxford University Press or Pearson Education Limited, offer all of their simplified versions of Readers with pre-, while-, and post-reading activities. On the contrary, the publishers, such as, Dover Publications 24 ffer their unabridged versions of books without any activities. It is because these books are usually read for pleasure and enjoyment not for further study. When the teacher is using literary texts, the three stages can be very important for students. The stages are related together and they have their specifics and characteristics. Going through all reading stages, it can help the reader to understand the text better. “The intention is to ensure that reading is ‘taught’ in the sense of helping readers develop increasing ability to tackle texts.
This is in contrast to more traditional materials in which reading would be ‘tested’ through a procedure in which learners would read a text with or without an introduction, possibly with some pre-teaching of vocabulary, and then would be required to answer comprehension questions. Many contemporary materials reflect this three-phase procedure” (Hedge, 2000:209). Pre-reading The pre-reading task or instruction is the most important part of working with any text. It can include some brief presentation or introduction the teacher prepares, but also from the student? point of view, the reader is able to indicate what he or she is going to do with the text. Hedge suggests that “during the pre-reading phase, learners can be encouraged to do a number of things: become oriented to the context of the text; tune in to the content of the text; establish a reason for reading; express an attitude about the topic; review their own experiences in relation to the topic; activate existing cultural knowledge; and become familiar with some of the language in the text.
In this way the teacher can prepare them in terms of both schematic and language knowledge, and ensure proposeful reading” (2000:210). There are various types of activities that teacher can use with the students, for example, to talk about illustrations from the text; to predict from the title; to answer some questions or a quiz; or to discuss the topic. The pre-reading stage is very important because using only the small selections from the text, the reader becomes interested in and curious about characters, places, plot and action.
The pre-reading activities force pupils to continue the reading, and to 25 complete a task or confirm an idea. It can also help the learners to understand that there can be some possibilities in answers, not only right or wrong ones. While reading As Greenwood mentions: “in recent years students have been encouraged to respond more subjectively to Readers. Unfortunately a large number of teachers still consider the Reader to be simply a longer text for comprehension questions or an oportunity to practise reading aloud. Reading is not a passive skill.
When we read we search for meaning, drawing upon the complex network of associations which native speakers have at their disposal. Students should be actively engaged in negotiation for meaning. The use of classroom Readers should place emphasis only upon the recycling of facts and key language. Students must be taught how to read and respond to books and not simply to answer questions. During lessons students must be involved in activities which enable them to respond cognitively, emotionally and imaginatively to imaginative writing” (1990:59).
Some interesting and useful while-reading activities can be, for example, to follow the order of ideas in a text; react to the opinions expressed; understand the information it contains; ask themselves questions; make notes; or predict the next part of the text from various clues. Many teachers and researchers say that using while-reading activities is not always absolutely necessary, because as they state, there should be some introduction before reading and the main tasks and activities to complete after the reading.
I have to disagree with them because according to my teaching experience, many teenagers report positively on the usefulness of while-reading activities and that is why I try to compose these tasks into my reading lessons. Post-reading “Students should be able to enter the ‘inner worlds’ without the traditional teaching method of comprehension checks. Instead they could be more actively engaged in 26 negotiation for potential meaning, both individually and with other students. Interest in the activity can sustain interest in the text or be fuelled by interest in the text” (Greenwood, 1990:89).
It is clear that the post-reading activities cannot be performed without the text or they cannot replace the text. They usually involve the learners in detailed revision, consolidate and summarize what the readers have read. “Post-reading activities can be as varied as the texts they follow, but ideally will tie up with the reading purpose set, so that students check and discuss activities done while reading and make use of what they have read in a meaningful way, for example, by discussing their response to the writer? opinions or by using notes for a writing activity” (Hedge, 2000:211). After that, some activities which are focusing on the content of the text can be used, for example, debate, role-play, reading of contrasting texts, or focusing on its language. According to my teaching experience, when using these three reading phases, teacher can help pupils to understand the content and to increase their reading comprehension as well as the other skills. 6. DEVELOPING LANGUAGE-LEARNING SKILLS Using children? and juvenile literature, fantasy books or stories in the language classrooms is very important not only for developing reading itself, but also to improve the other skills, such as listening, writing, speaking, and to expand the knowledge of vocabulary and grammar. 6. 1 Vocabulary As McRae states “vocabulary is one of the most vexed questions in the teaching of reading and the use of reading materials” (1991:104). 27 “Research tends to suggest that if inferencing is easy because the text is rich in contextual clues or there is a cognate word, retention is less likely.
The more active the learner needs to be, the more likely the word will be remembered. Awareness of this distinction will guide the teacher into exploiting texts both for reading strategy development and for vocabulary acquisition” (Hedge, 2000:130). It is true, that most of the pupils, when dealing with the text, usually tend to search every single word which they do not know in the dictionaries. It is very important for the readers to understand the text as a whole. For example, when translating any text, I always say to my pupils that the text cannot be translated word by word.
It can be very useful for the readers to learn how to guess the word from the context. This technique can help students to build up self-confidence so that they can work out the meanings of unknown words and it will help them to remember the words better. Nation and Coady suggest a five-point strategy for guessing unknown words in texts: a) “find the part of speech of the word; b) examine the immediate context; c) examine the wider context; d) guess the meaning; e) check that the meaning is correct” (1988:110).
There are also some other techniques which can help to introduce new vocabulary from the text, for example, using pictures from the story can be very useful not only for students to understand but also for teachers to explain the word easier; or translating because some words still need to be translated and it can save time. 6. 2 Grammar “It has to be said that, although English grammar is a vast subject, the basic range of structures and tenses is actually fairly small, and not unduly inaccessible to the willing L2 reader, who might be quite unable to produce the structures he or she can passively comprehend” (McRae, 1991:107). 8 As Harmer mentions “it is certainly possible to teach aspects of grammar – indeed that is what langauge teachers have been doing for centuries – but language is a difficult business and it is often very untidy and cannot be automatically reduced to simple grammar patterns. Students need to be aware of this, just as they need to be aware of all language possibilities. Such awareness does not mean that they have to be taught each variation and linguistic twist, however. It just means that they have to be aware of language and how it is used.
That is why reading and listening are so important, and that is why discovery activities are so valuable since by asking students to discover ways in which language is used the teachers help to raise their awareness about the creative use of grammar” (1991:23). A good teacher should be prepared to use different kinds of techniques and methods to help students, especially teenagers, learn and acquire grammar. Whether it means involving teaching grammar rules or allowing students to discover the rules for themselves. 6. 3 Listening As Ellis and Brewster say “… listening to stories is not a passive activity.
As they listen, the learners are observing the storyteller? s gestures, noticing the subtle differences in his/her voice, matching any visuals shown to the language they are hearing, building up their own pictures in their heads, trying to predict what comes next, guessing the meanings of new words and so on. In short, a great deal of informationprocessing takes place in learners? heads” (2002:27). Surely, listening has many similarities with reading, but there are also some differences. One of the point is that the text itself is different.
A written text is static. It depends on the reader how fast and how many times the text will be read. On the contrary, spoken text, if it is on CD or DVD can be repeated, too, but at this case the speed does not depend on the listener. In conversation a listener can also ask the speaker to repeat some passages, but it is not probably possible of a lecture, or the radio programme that flashes past. Hedge states that “the most vital element in learning to listen effectively in a second or foreign language is confidence, and confidence comes with practice and with 29 chieving success from an early stage. The role of the teacher is to provide as much positive practice as possible by talking to learners in English, by exposing them to a range of listening material in the classroom, and by encouraging them to use whatever resources are available in their institution or community” (2000:255). Nowadays, on the book market there are many simplified readers or unabridged versions of books as well as course-books published with cassettes, CDs, video tapes, DVDs or even with CD-ROMs, and these can be an invaluable resource.
According to my opinion, a teacher is similar to an actor. When a teacher stands in front of a class, there is always some kind of performance. The more the teacher enjoys it, the more the class will be interested in, curious and motivated. That is why listening plays a vital part of reading activities too. 6. 4 Speaking “Most children equate learning a foreign language with learning to speak it and, because learning to speak their mother tongue was a seemingly easy task, they expect it to be the same with the foreign language. They want immediate results.
If children are to sustain this motivation, they need to be given opportunities to speak English as soon as possible, and as much as possible, so they feel they are making progress and fulfilling their expectations” (Ellis and Brewster, 2002:29). Unfortunately, it can be more difficult with teenagers. They are often worried about making mistakes, they are shy or feel stressed in front of the teacher and their peers. It is even more difficult to force teenagers to discuss or speak about the story they have read. Even though they understand the story, usually they do not like to talk about it.
In my point of view, speaking forms an integral part of reading activities. Some activities which can help the students to develop their speaking are, for example, discussing the story; the characters; preparing an interview; retelling a story; dramatizing which involves students in learning lines for their role to practise English; or role-playing which provides an opportunity for language that has been presented in a story to be used in a different context. 30 6. 5 Writing “Writing is a result of employing strategies to manage the composing process, which is one of gradually developing a text.
It involves a number of activities: setting goals, generating ideas, organizing information, selecting appropriate language, making a draft, reading and reviewing it, then revising and editing. It is a complex process which is neither easy nor spontaneous for many second language writers” (Hedge, 2000:302). A lot of parents still complain that teaching writing is not as necessary as teaching speaking. For them the most important thing is that their children make themselves understood in English in a foreign country. But usually it is not as easy. We use writing in our every day life.
For example, writing birthday cards or Christmas cards, they contain some messages which are usually written in a special literary style. Ellis and Brewster say that “to support children? s writing skills, it is important to know which skills the pupils are practising in a writing task. Young children may be learning to write, while older children who have mastered the basic skills may move to use writing to learn. As learners develop, it becomes increasingly important for teachers to create opportunities for children to have a specific context and audience to write for.
This is an important part of writing to communicate” (2002:34). It is up to the teacher to encourage teenagers to experiment with texts. There are various kinds of writing activities on the basis of reading, for example, to write simple re-tellings of a story, to write descriptions, poems, dialogues, letters, invitations, etc. 6. 6 Learning about culture According to Ellis and Brewster “storybooks reflect the culture of their authors and illustrators and therefore provide ideal opportunities for presenting cultural information and encouraging cross-cultural comparison” (2002:39).
Literature written for non-native speakers usually provides some backgrounds, for example, social, historical, or personal. It is usual that the publishers provide some introduction of the book, information about the author, as well as glossary with difficult 31 words in the Reader. These information are usually not very long but they can be useful for pupils. As Carter and Long say “there are many texts which do not need an extensive background, but which nevertheless reveal points which are curious, inexplicable at first sight and potentially difficult for non-native readers because they have nowhere to turn for explanation.
For the teacher there is no way to prepare the learner for all possible cross-cultural implications, although for a particular text some explanation in advance of the reading or teaching would undoubtedly be helpful” (1991:153-154). 7. HOW TO ORGANIZE A CLASSROOM READING As Harmer suggests “a teacher has a number of different roles (controller, assessor, organiser, prompter, participant, resource, tutor and investigator) and that the adoption of only one of these will be detrimental to a varied and interesting class.
Teachers must be aware of the different roles they can adopt and know when and how to use them” (1991:253). Classroom management does not include only the practical organization of the classroom resources, but also students so everyone can work effectively. Good organization can positively influence teaching process as well as the learning process. It can be very important and useful in the reading classes because usually there are a lot of pair or group activities, where the pupils can become a bit noisy. 7. 1 Organizing reading or storytelling
When reading or telling stories the teacher should try to create a relaxed atmosphere. To arrange desks or chairs in a semi-circle can be useful too. It has been already mentioned that the physical conditions in the classroom should be as pleasant as possible, the teacher, for example, can ask students to help with the decorations in the classroom. The decorations can be connected with the reading itself. 32 7. 2 Forms of interaction – pairwork or groupwork As Harmer says “pairwork seems to be a good idea because it immediately increases the amount of student practice.
It allows the students to use language and also encourages student co-operation which is itself important for the atmosphere of the class and for the motivation it gives to learning with others. Groupwork seems to be also very useful. Just as in pairwork, we can mention the increase in the amount of student talking time and we can place emphasis on the opportunities it gives students really to use language to communicate with each other. Groupwork is more dynamic than pairwork: there are more people to react with and against in a group, and, therefore, there is a greater possibility of discussion” (1991:244245).
According to my teaching experience, there are usually a lot of activities suggested for pairs or groups during reading classes. The activities are more interesting then, the pupils can talk freely and share their ideas or opinions. It is usually up to the teacher how he or she manages pair or group work so that all pupils can achieve their potential and have feelings of success. To manage pair and group work Ellis and Brewster suggest some useful ground rules, such as: • “Independent learning in pairs or groups requires cooperation not competition.
Children should be encouraged to help each other understand and complete tasks. • Children need to share materials so they all have access to the task. The teacher must ensure, therefore, that there are enough copies and that visuals are clear and large enough for all to see. • Children should be encouraged to listen to each other and to take turns in speaking. • Children must not raise their voices or shout” (2002:45). 33 7. 3 Using audio-visual aids and multimedia The use of visuals and other support for listening can be very important to the students? omprehension and enjoyment of the story. These might include, for example, real objects, pictures, models, flashcards, cassettes or CDs. “Despite certain fears or apprehensions about the use of technology as a language teaching aid, there is no doubt that it can add a vital dimension to motivating students to learn English and can contribute to their all-round development. When using video or DVD recorders, or computers, the teacher needs to consider how they can be used and how they can complement the classroom-based work so they become fully integrated” (Ellis and Brewster, 2002:42).
Nowadays, many books and stories exist on DVDs or CD-ROMs. The Internet can be a useful tool for students too, for example, to research topics for project work connected to the book or story. There are also a lot of interesting and wonderful web sites which are connected to books and stories, such as Harry Potter, Alice in Wonderland, etc. where the pupils can find enjoyable activities and games. It is, however, important but sometimes not very easy to protect the students from distasteful sites. Usually the dangerous sites on the Internet are blocked at schools. 7. 4 Displaying students? work It can be very motivating for students to display their work and it often encourages higher standards of output. Displays also make the classroom more inspiring and can encourage a purposeful working atmosphere” (Ellis and Brewster, 2002:46). According to my teaching experience, it is always very positive, useful and motivational for pupils to display their paintings or drawings based on the reading round the classroom. They can prepare them in their Art lessons. Reading diaries or journals can be also very useful for pupils. They can share their information and experience with the books.
At our basic school it is usual to prepare projects based on, for example, famous British authors as William Shakespeare. The subjects involved in the project are usually 34 English, Czech and Art. The pupils prepare a notice board or posters with some information about the author in English and Czech language, and pictures with, for example, costumes from that period. 7. 5 Organizing a literature self-access centre The main reasons for taking the time and effort to establish a centre are to offer pupils literary texts to listen to or to read; to develop pupils? eading and listening skills; to form the pupils? enjoyment of and positive attitude to literature; and to facilitate pupils to become more self-confident and independent as learners. It can be a good idea how to encourage pupils to read and enjoy literature by themselves. As Lazar states “a literature self-access centre is a library or small collection of texts for students to read on their own with minimal supervision. The reading can be done either in class time or for homework” (1993:179).
The self-access centre should consist of not only literary texts, for example, novels, plays, short stories or graded readers from which pupils are encouraged to borrow regularly, but also a collection of video or DVD recordings of plays or films based on novels or stories, and audio recordings which can pupils use after reading the original literary texts. According to my experience, it can be useful to ask pupils? parents to help with the library. Many of them are usually willing to buy books or Readers, and CDs or DVDs. 35 INTRODUCTION TO PRACTICAL PART
As a primary school teacher, I teach mostly teenagers between the ages of twelve and fifteen years. Sometimes I teach also younger children from the fourth or the fifth grade but it is not as usual. Mostly I deal with pupils from the sixth to the ninth grade. It means that I usually work and meet with pupils who are at very difficult age. Concerning the ages of the pupils in each grade, the usage of literature, especially the level and the content, has to be adequate and has to respect pupils? learning strategies and abilities as well as their mental and character qualities.
I teach heterogeneous classes only – the pupils usually have different levels of knowledge (there are strong but also very weak students in the classes), they have different aims, interests and aspirations. That is why I have different demands on the pupils too. To take all the above mentioned facts into consideration, I tried to choose some interesting, creative and reasonable activities for using fantasy books with teenagers to practise all language skills, to encourage them to read more, and to change their attitude to reading in general.
According to my previous teaching experience fantasy books correspond with teenagers? age and interests. There are many versions of fantasy books available in libraries, bookshops and on the Internet too. There are many web sites which are based on the well-known fantasy books, for example, Harry Potter, Alice? s Adventures in Wonderland, and many others, with a lot of interesting and creative interactive activities that can be very useful for both teachers as well as students. In this part of my diploma thesis I will suggest some tips and activities for using fantasy books with teenagers.
I concentrated on the 7th, 8th and 9th grades of the basic school and I suggested a fantasy book for each of these grades. The suggestions are for the seventh graders Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll in a simplified version, for the eighth graders Moondial by Helen Cresswell in a simplified version too, and for the ninth graders it is Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl. 36 This part provides tips of activities and reading used with pupils at the basic school. Because there was no time to go through and read the whole books with pupils in the lessons, I prepared the activities for some chapters only.
To familiarize the pupils with the plot of the story and with the other chapters, the pupils were usually asked to read the chapters at home. Then we discussed the plot at school together. According to my experience a reading programme has to be well planned and flexible. That is why many teachers at our schools prepare their reading lessons just as – reading and translating the text, possibly answering some questions related to the text because it is very easy to find some texts, copy it and think up some questions about it. My main aim of reading programme is to motivate teenagers to read and enjoy reading.
Therefore, I would think up some tips for using fantasies with teenagers that will be based on modern methods like pair work, group work, role play, etc. And I will evaluate them and give a feedback from my students. 37 Alice in Wonderland Charles Lutwidge Dodgson (1832-1898) under the pseudonym Lewis Carroll wrote Alice? s Adventures in Wonderland in 1865. It became quickly very famous at that time, and still it is one of the most popular children? s fantasy stories in the world. The story is deeply but gently satiric, enlivened with an imaginative plot and wonderful use of nonsense, as it relates Alice? adventures in a bizarre, topsy-turvy land underground. There she meets a lot of strange characters and fanciful beasts, for example, the White Rabbit, Mad Hatter, Dodo the bird, the sleepy Dormouse, Cheshire Cat, the Queen of Hearts and other unusual creatures. Because the original book was written in 1865 and I would like to use it with the 7th graders, I decided to choose a short simplified version of the book for the reasons of slightly archaic vocabulary of the original that would, in my opinion, be very difficult for pupils in the seventh grade.
Alice in Wonderland retold by Mary Tomalin in Level 2, which means Elementary level with 600 words, was published by Penguin Readers in association with Longman. They try to provide a step-by-step approach to the joys of reading for pleasure and each book has an introduction and extensive activity material. The Readers are published at seven levels from Easystarts (200 words) to Advanced (3000 words). 7th graders
It is a mixed-ability class of sixteen pupils, six girls and eight boys – five of them are strong pupils, six of them are quite good but their performance is sometimes inconstant, because of their abilities but mostly because of the fact that they do not prepare regularly for the lessons. The last five of the pupils are rather weak. One of the biggest disadvantage of this group is that they are always very noisy and talkative, there is always some humming in the classroom. On the other hand, they are very friendly not only to each other, but also to most of the teachers at school.
This group is using the old Project English II. by Tom Hutchinson and that is why, they were curious and showed their interest in working on something different than their old textbook is. 38 Tips for using Alice in Wonderland The first lesson started by asking pupils if they know any famous fantasy stories or fairy tales. This short introduction was done mainly in the Czech language because it could be easier for pupils to name titles of stories or fairy tales. I wanted to make the purpose and aim of the lesson which is motivating pupils for further reading clear right from the beginning. Warm-up activities
There were two options that I could follow. The first option could be – to read the Introduction to the book (app. 4) and then ask ? What happens in Wonderland??. For this activity it is better if pupils work in small groups. They can discuss it in their groups first, then they can talk and give some possibilities and suggestions together in the class. The teacher can add more questions according to the pupils? suggestions. The second option could be – to prepare copies with split titles of famous fantasy stories and fairy tales (app. 5) and ask pupils to match the right halves of the titles together.
This activity is more general and it is not precisely connected with the story Alice in Wonderland but it can be interesting and motivational for pupils to find out that they know some titles which are not written in their mother tongue. A tip for using Chapter 1 – Down the Rabbit-hole The teacher and pupils read the first chapter ? Down the Rabbit-hole? out loud together (app. 6) because the chapter is short. I also wanted to know the reading abilities of the pupils. The activity is called ? Ordering Puzzle? and the idea for this activity came from Jean Greenwood? s Class Readers. 39
The main aims of this activity are ordering, revision, remembering what has been read and summarizing. This activity is similar to a puzzle or game and is, therefore, more attractive to the pupils as a method of revision. I prepared a summary of the first chapter written in short concise sentences. There are 18 sentences, all of which are set down in the wrong order (app. 7). The pupils can work in pairs or groups, it is up to the teacher. Their task is to put numbers next to the sentences in the order in which they refer to the first chapter. We checked the correct order all together.
Another possibility for this activity is to scissor the sentences and put them into the envelopes. Each pair or group gets one envelope and their task is to arrange the sentences in the correct order. To continue this activity, the teacher can divide the pupils into small groups and ask them to retell the first chapter. They can try and link as many of the sentences from the copy (app. 7) as possible and make them flow, one into the other. They try to retell the first chapter to each other in a round. Each pupil should take one sentence as a stimulus, but any extra information or details they can remember are added in.
The most successful group will still be telling the first chapter when all the other groups have dried up. Comments and evaluation The warm-up activities went off quite well without any problems because it included simple tasks. We tried both activities and the pupils enjoyed matching the right halves of the titles together more. It was not because the task was easier but because they took it as a competition and they like to compete, they like puzzles and braintwisters a lot. The activity ? Ordering Puzzle? was more difficult and it took also more time. The pupils sometimes had to look into their reading copies to find the right order.
The group of weaker pupils had the most serious problems with this activity and I had to help them a lot. 40 For this activity I would recommend to make mixed-ability groups because stronger pupils can help and encourage weaker pupils to try their best. A tip for using Chapter 8 – Inside the Garden The teacher reads the first half of the eighth chapter ? Inside the Garden? out loud and the pupils listen to it. Then the pupils have 7 minutes to read the second half of the chapter themselves (app. 8). This activity is called ? Card Games? and again it is adapted for our situation from Class Readers by Jean Greenwood.
This activity can be very useful after finishing the whole book. The main aims of this activity are revision of character, selection of key facts and awareness of what is known. This game can take quite long time and it can be played in small groups or with the whole class. I prepared four packs of cards (app. 9) and divided class into four groups. It can be fun for pupils to help the teacher to prepare these cards in the previous lessons or in the Art lessons. Each pack comprises two equal sets of cards. The first set has the names of the characters from the chapter or the whole story.
The second set has either a quotation to match one of the names, or an illustration, or a fact about the character. Each character? s name has only one other corresponding card. The two sets of cards are combined and shuffled, and the pupils can start the game ? Pelmanism?. Pelmanism The Czech expression is ? Pexeso?. The rules are the same. The cards are face down in rows on the table. Each student may turn over two cards at a time. If the two cards correspond in some way, for example, a character? s name and a quotation from that character, the pupil can keep both cards.
If the cards do not correspond they are turned face down again and returned to exactly the same places, and then the next pupil takes a turn. The winner is the pupil who has the most pairs of cards. 41 Comments and evaluation This activity went off very well without any serious problem because the pupils enjoyed it very much. I prepared four packs of cards for four groups. At this time I divided the pupils according to their level and knowledge, that means the strongest pupils together and the weakest pupils together too. It was because also the weakest pupils had the chance to win the game.
At the end of this activity the pupils wanted to prepare more cards not only for Alice in Wonderland but also for different books they have read. I think this activity really showed the pupils? enjoyment and interest in reading. That is why I showed and lent the volunteers some other books to read at home and to prepare their own packs of cards. It could be done as a project. More tips for using Alice in Wonderland These activities are connected more with writing. A poem At the beginning of this activity I asked pupils to think and say some words which are connected with our story Alice in Wonderland.
I wrote some of those words on the blackboard, for example, Wonderland, the White Rabbit, a watch, a Rabbit-hole, mad, etc. , and the pupils? task was to write a poem. They could use the words or not, it was up to them, and they could work individually, in pairs or groups as they like best. Then I gave them the blank sheet of paper in format A3, they wrote their poem on it and put it on the walls round the classroom. The Characters I wrote some of the characters from the story on the blackboard, ? The White Rabbit? , ? The Queen? , ? The Cheshire Cat? , and ? The Caterpillar?. 2 The pupils? task was to write four or five sentences about each of these animals or people. They worked individually but it was necessary to help the weakest pupils sometimes. After they finished the volunteers were asked to read their sentences. A letter This activity could be done as homework. The pupils? task is to write a short letter from Alice to a friend about ? Wonderland?. Comments and evaluation ?A poem? activity went off quite well because the pupils enjoyed it. They were really creative (app. 10) and what was important to me they had fun during this activity.
They were active because they could discuss and talk about it with me and also with their classmates, they could use the dictionaries and most important fact for them was that they wrote the poem for somebody to read it. ?The Characters? activity did not go as well as the ? Poem? activity because the pupils had to work individually and it was not so enjoyable for them. Most of them had to look at their reading copies to write some sentences about these characters. The Internet Sources There are a lot of web pages on the Internet connected with Alice in Wonderland which can be very useful for the teachers as well as for the pupils.
I can recommend, for example: Alice in Wonderland – An Interactive Adventure (http://www. ruthannzaroff. com/wonderland/index. htm) Here the pupils can enjoy activities with Alice and her friends, such as – Wonderland Word Search – to find the words from the word list in the grid. Words are horizontal, vertical, diagonal, backward, and forward. 43 – Alice? s Guessing Game – this game is similar to Hangman, but the pupil can keep guessing letters until he or she knows the answer, with no penalty. – A Long and A Sad Tale – the pupils can fill their own tale. – Wonderland Word Scramble – the pupils can help Alice unscramble all of the words. Queen Alice? s Quiz – here the pupils can go through a little quiz. – Send a Wonderful Postcard – here the pupils can choose a Wonderland image for a postcard and they can send the postcard by email. This web site is really wonderful and it can help to motivate pupils a lot. Another interesting and useful web site is Wired for Books from Ohio University (http://wiredforbooks. org/alice/). The pupils can listen to an unabridged, dramatic audio production. There are many others including, for example, A Study Guide for Alice by Elizabeth Sky-McIlvain and John McIlvain http://www. leasttern. com/alice/alice. htm#introductory) or A Trip to Wonderland: The Nursery ? Alice? created by EDSITEment (http://edsitement. neh. gov/view_lesson_plan. asp? ID=292#01) that can be very useful for the teachers. There can be found a lot of interesting ideas and tips for using the book Alice in Wonderland. The pupils? feedback After finishing the story Alice in Wonderland I gave each pupil a short questionnaire to fill (app. 11). The questionnaire was anonymous, and I also translated it into Czech to help pupils to understand it better.
For most of the pupils the story was interesting even though they have already known the story because they read it in English now. 44 All the pupils agreed on the most interesting activity during the work with the book, and it was ? Pelmanism?. They all enjoyed it very much. Another interesting activity for about half of the pupils was ? A Poem?. 12 pupils would like to work with the literature in the English classes as often as possible. The pupils also mentioned the pictures on their reading copies, because as they said, it helped them to imagine the things better. pupils borrowed some different books to read and to prepare the packs of cards for the game. According to the results of the short research (app. 12), the 7th graders showed their positive attitude to literature and reading. 45 Moondial Helen Cresswell was born in 1934, and started writing stories at the age of seven. She studied at London University, and was a teacher before becoming a full-time writer of children? s books. Her early books were of two kinds: stories about magical worlds, and funny stories about real life. Then in 1973, she was asked to write for the BBC children? s television programme Jackanory.
In Moondial (1987), she returns to the world of magic, witches, and evil. The idea for the story came from Belton House, a National Trust house and garden in Lincolnshire, which can be visited by the public. A television adaptation of Moondial was filmed there in 1988. In the book the garden is described just as it is in real life, with its paths and yew trees, and the sundial statue of Chronos and Eros. I decided to use this story with the 8th graders, that is why I chose a short simplified version of this book. Moondial retold by John Escott in Level 3 with 1000 headwords was published by Oxford University Press in 2008.
The Oxford Bookworms Library provides enjoyable reading in English, with a wide range of classic and modern fiction, non-fiction, and plays. It includes original and adapted texts in seven graded language stages, which take learners from beginner to advanced level. Each book contains an introduction to the story, notes about the author, a glossary, and activities. Additional resources include texts and worksheets, and answers for these and for the activities in the books. Resource materials are available on the website (www. oup. com/elt/bookworms). These resources can be very useful not only for teachers but also for pupils and students. th graders It is a mixed-ability class of twelve pupils, six girls and six boys – five of them are strong pupils, four of them are quite good, they always try their best and three of the pupils are very weak. This group is very friendly and the pupils co-operate very well in all school subjects, except one boy who is absolutely uncooperative in any way. 46 This group is using the old Project English III. by Tom Hutchinson, they do not like the coursebook very much, and that is why, they were curious and showed their interest in working on something different than their old textbook is.
This group likes reading very much and most of the pupils read books for pleasure. Most of the pupils in this group also like learning English, so my main aim in this group is to motivate them to read in English. Tips for using Moondial The first lesson started by asking pupils if they know any famous fantasy stories or fairy tales. This short introduction was done mainly in the Czech language because it could be easier for pupils to name some titles of stories or fairy tales in English. But some of the pupils were able to tell the titles also in English.
I wanted to make the purpose and aim of the lesson which is motivating pupils for further reading clear right from the beginning. Warm-up activities I prepared two warm-up activities for the eighth grade too. The first activity could be ? I name this book?. I found the idea in Class Readers by Jean Greenwood. The literary aim is the anticipation of plot and theme. I wrote the title of each chapter on the blackboard. It is midnight… 1) More than shadows 2) The sundial 3) Children from the past 4) Devil? s child! 5) Miss Vole 6) ? Someone walking over my grave…? 7) The end of the game 47
I divided the pupils into groups of three and asked them to discuss each of the chapter titles and suggest a possible title for the book. They must try to justify their decisions. Then we discussed their possible answers together. The right answer is not important in this activity, more important things are the pupils? responses and discussions to the chapter titles. The second warm-up activity could be – to prepare copies with titles of famous stories in one column and with the names of the authors in other column (app. 13). The pupils? task is to match the title with the correct name of the author together.
This activity is more general, and it is not precisely connected to the story Moondial, but it can be interesting and motivational for pupils to find out that they know books as well as their authors. Tips for using Chapter 1 – More than shadows The teacher reads the first half of the chapter one ? More than shadows? out loud and the pupils listen to it, then the pupils have 5 minutes to finish the chapter themselves (app. 14), but it is not necessary to read the text before this activity. This activity is focused mainly on vocabulary connected to the story. For this activity I used the glossary from the book.
I prepared copies of words and their definitions (app. 15). The pupils? task was to match the words with the right definitions. For example: Witch – 31st October when people say that the ghosts of dead people come back to the living world. Halloween – a woman who uses magic to do things (usually, but not always, bad things). The pupils worked individually and to motivate them and to make this activity more interesting I said that the first five pupils will be marked if the task is correct. At the end of the activity, I asked volunteers to read the word with the definition to check the right answer, and then they put the opies in their vocabulary notebooks. They were also asked to look at the copies at home to become more familiar with the new words. 48 Another activity which I found very useful is called ? The third degree about a text? but I call it ? Hot seat? because the pupils can better imagine what the activity is about. I used the main idea from the book Language activities for teenagers by Seth Lindstromberg. The main aims of this activity are reading, asking questions about a resource, answering questions in the limelight and under pressure. First, the pupils were asked to read the chapter one ? More than shadows? individually.
Then, in groups of three, they had to prepare a set of questions about the text (I suggested four or five questions). Then I asked for one volunteer to occupy a seat at the front of the class. The other pupils had to fire questions at the person in the ? hot seat? for the next three minutes. When the three minutes were up the old victim selected a new one. We continued until one person in each group had had a chance to answer questions. Comments and evaluation The warm-up activities went off quite well without any problems because it included simple tasks. We tried both activities and the pupils really enjoyed the first one ?
I name this book?. First, they discussed the title of each chapter and a possible title for the book in groups, and after some time we discussed it together. This activity really forced the pupils to think, to imagine and what was very important to talk. At the end of this activity there were really strong arguments about each group title. When I told them the title of the book, some of the pupils were dissatisfied because they thought that their suggestions were better. The second warm-up activity went off very well and it showed that most of the pupils in this class like reading and they read a lot. They matched most of