Children will listen in awe if you read them a captivating story using plenty of expression! The illustrations help comprehension even though I must admit that when I read a story to young learners of English, I read and translate it orally sentence by sentence as I’m going along – recording it for them to listen to again and again. This exception to my rule of never translating is to incentivate children to be patient and hear the story out until the end. Some of the children I teach are still toddlers and until about the age of 10 I feel they need this support. I try to explain the meaning from age 11 upwards rather than translating.
In today’s age of technology where everything is ‘consumed’ at full speed or immediately abandoned at the first waning of interest, books start losing their appeal early on in life and so people miss out on so much in the wonderful world of books where your imagination may wander…. Translating for younger children also allows us to enjoy a little more complicated stories rather than limiting ourselves to the few simpler books.
Children’s books have the most wonderful illustrations and so, occasionally, I take a picture and separate the different parts of it together with my students so we can describe the individual details and appreciate their artistic beauty. My students love them. I then laminate these individual parts of the picture and we play games with them to learn the vocabulary and expressions. The most popular and effective game for learning the vocabulary and expressions is ‘Snap’, whereby I say each word or expression as they turn the cards to connect the visual aid with the sound of the word for the younger ones and to teach the pronunciation of the written word to the older ones. After a few games I try to get them to say the words instead.
This activity of looking at the illustrations in detail proves to be very popular with my students who then enjoy looking at the details in the illustrations of their own reading books at home.
Hope you like this idea!
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My name is Susan Brodar, born in London into a multilingual family and brought up bilingual English / Italian.