As a teacher of English as a foreign language I truly believe that one of the greatest ways to make my students cherish the language and grasp its scope to the deepest is by prodding them to read, read and read. Yet, I am not much in favour of graded readers, not so much because of their quality. There are graded readers that are undoubtedly well edited and of great help to some students. I started experimenting reading books for young people 10 years ago and since then I have never abandoned the idea of promoting authentic material in my classes. I see that when my students read an authentic (unabridged) novel, they gain confidence and great satisfaction. They say their reading a novel in English (a novel that mother tongue speakers themselves read!) gives them a great sense of achievement, fulfilment. Obviously I do not plunge my students into an ocean of books without giving them any buoy (metaphorically speaking). Quite the contrary: titles are suggested according to the level of English my students have and bearing in mind the overall interests.
I am much indebted to Stephen Krashen’s ideas and books. If I had not read him I doubt I would have ever decided to abondon the safe island of the graded reader to embark on a riskier but greatly challenging vessel.
Why have I not set up a blog on reading in English before? I started promoting extensive reading years ago and I have been using blogs with my students for a while. Well, the truth is that running a blog is timeconsuming and we teachers do not happen to have lots of time. Yet, this school year (2011) was marked by a special event for my 3F class. Thus this blog is dedicated to them. They are the ones that spurred me into creating it. They read the novel “Beautiful Malice” by the Australian writer Rebecca James and then they accepted my challenge of attending a short workshop on how to create a booktrailer. With the help of Andrea Princivalli they created the following:
The writer herself wrote the following e-mail to the students:
Dear Class III F
That is absolutely brilliant. I love it! It is Sunday morning here in Australia and I’ve just watched that trailer and I’m sure I’m going to be smiling all day!
Thank you so so so MUCH.
I think you’re all amazingly clever and I’m going to post that on my blog if you don’t mind?
With very warm wishes,
You will read the students’ reactions and comments on the book and on the booktrailer experience.
Since this blog is meant to promote ESL students to read novels in English but also colleagues to use free reading in their classes, I would love to share with you the introductory activity I devised along with two friends and colleagues (Nella and Laura), with whom I share ideas, projects, hopes and sometimes frustrations too. This activity is meant to tickle the students imagination and if possible to spur them into reading the whole novel.
A good book on your shelf is a friend that turns its back on you and remains a friend. Author Unknown
This is another interesting booktrailer what I invite you to watch.
Bye for now.