It never ceases to amaze me how much absolute beginners love to read books. When I bring in a pile of kids books they will quite happily choose one, look at the pictures and attempt to decode the language. Whilst this is fun for a while they are definitely limited by how much they can decode. That's what I love about some of the graded ESOL readers that talented people like Marta Paluch have created and then shared on free websites like Talent.
Rima's Day is one of my favourites because the language is simple, the pictures are clear and although the language is quite significantly above my learners' level they can have a jolly good stab at it. We print them off in booklet form which gives them a huge sense of achievement as they learn to read and understand the vast majority of it.
There's very little prep needed but so much we can do with the text. Here are a few of the things we did last time I used it:
- We read it together with lots of acting from me as many of the verbs are unfamiliar to them e.g. put on, clear away, get up etc...
- We practiced whole phrases
- We went round the room reading a page each
- I read it and they acted out the verb phrases
- They acted a phrase and the other learners guessed which one e.g. washing the dishes
- We played word races where I said the verb and they raced through the book to find it and show me.
- They read it to eachother
- I broke it down onto cards and they matched pictures with phrases and ordered the text.
Usually ideas for what to do just spark as you see what phrases catch their interest etc... They take it home and read it to their kids and bring it back a little scrattier than when it was given but well used. It may not be an authentic text but they certainly get an authentic sense of achievement from learning to read and understand it. There are three different readers available for free on Talent that I can find but I'd love to know which ones other teachers use and as always any ideas for how to use them :-)