Logo Title Quebec Reading Connection

Using books in the Elementary ESL classroom...

Using books in the Elementary ESL classroom enhances the development of the ESL competencies by:

• Providing a context for meaningful learning

Books are used as sources of information, entertainment and pleasure. They make learning both meaningful and interesting for language learners, they pique students’ interest through a variety of topics and issues as well as offering appropriate challenges for all students. Books make the English language come alive within the classroom context.

• Fostering students’ vocabulary development

Books expose students to a wide variety of vocabulary. It has been estimated that children’s literature and comic books use a variety of approximately 13 000 different words, whereas teacher speech uses about 8 000 words. Even newspapers, that make use of approximately 10 000 words, do not offer readers the variety of words included in children’s books.

• Offering students good models of texts

As we read aloud to students, they are provided with the opportunity to hear good models of pronunciation and intonation delivered with emotion and passion which can help foster a love of reading and prepare for individual reading.

Literature also provides models of good writing and allows students to notice language forms being used in authentic context.

• Generating opportunities for oral interaction

Using picture books with Elementary ESL students allows them to have extra support for comprehension. Illustrations add to the text by showing emotions, by preparing for inference (making intelligent guesses about the story), by leading to other ideas or by illustrating additional thoughts to the narrative.

Whole classroom discussions about the illustrations and the story lead to a great deal of oral interaction, by making use of the words and expressions found in texts, and by drawing upon acquired functional language to participate in oral exchanges.

Through a variety of ideas, points of view, attitudes and values expressed in books, students learn the language to express their own ideas and to understand the ideas of others.