In part one I described the concept of a Literature Bunch. Now I want to give an example of one I’m doing with my students at the moment.
The students are 3rd formers (Swiss grammar school), 15 years old, and in grammar school since two years. Their level is pre-intermediate, and they are a really strong class in every possible sense.
My foremost intention was to get them reading. To show them, that reading can be fun even if the books are written in English. They should learn not to look up every single word they didn’t understand/weren’t able to translate immediately into their native language.
Because of my set teaching goal, I decide to chose „fun“ books – books that might not be usual for an English classroom.
- Sherman Alexie: „The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian„
- Suzanne Collins: „The Hunger Games“
- Mark Haddon: „The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time„
- Robert J. Sawyer: „WWW: Wake„
- Scott Westerfeld: „Uglies„
I actually didn’t plan on using „Uglies“ and „WWW: Wake“ but rather „The Best Bad Luck I Ever Had“ by K. Levine and „Purple Heart“ by P. McCormick. However, it is not always easy to get English books in Switzerland on short notice, so I had to improvise and get other titles.
What happened so far:
The students grabbed their – more or less favorite book – and started reading, and reading, and reading…. (I allowed them to use two lessons because we did a lot of grammar stuff the week before). Well, first lesson was over and they already were discussing their books. At the beginning of the second lesson one student approached me and casually mentioned: „I’ve already finished my book, what shall I do?“ I was shocked… pleased… helpless. Luckily, she had a book for German class with her, so I allowed her to read that one (and swore to be better prepared the next time – but who would have guessed that a student finishes a book in one evening?). During the following week I saw my students wandering around the school with the books in front of their noses and other teachers asked me how I managed this („Simple. Just chose books that they like!“). Then, another student approached me wondering if the sequel to „Hunger Games“ was available in the library because he wanted to know how the story continued. I wasn’t sure, so I gave him my copy and wrote an urgent message to our school-librarian. Another one wanted to know if he could borrow the second book of „WWW: Wake“, unfortunately, it hasn’t been published yet.
So, after the appointed time for the first book, half of the class had read more than one book and they were eager to swap themto get the one they’ve already heard so much about. Before exchanging books we discussed what we liked/dis-liked about the stories (e.g. „I have to wait for the sequel to be published“) and what the message might be.
Next week they’ll have finished their second offical book and we’ll talk about the characters and how to write a character description. Exchanging books again, the class will read the third book over summer vacation and in the second/third week of the new term we’re going to talk about book reviews and how to write them. Afterwards I plan to read something in class, though not sure yet as to what. If you have any tips, please contribute to the google-docs list „Literature in ESL classroom“ – thank you in advance!
To be continued…