Teach English in Qi'an Zhen - Nantong Shi

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Teaching reading literature in an EFL classroom brings valuable benefits to English learners. It is worth trying different kinds of methods or techniques to conduct successful reading classes. Literature reading can improve the comprehension of English learners in many ways, for it has a direct relation to students’ academic performance. Trigueros (2016) states that using stories in class can academically improve students’ grades. It is used to reinforce language skills and complement language teaching (Erkaya in Saka, 2014). Subsequently, reading is the key to cultivate student’s independent thinking and motivation for life-long learning. Zahra and Farrah (2015) believe that teaching short stories expose learners to remarkable chances for educational, intellectual, cultural and linguistic development. Saka (2014) stresses that reading provides students a chance to understand other’s culture as well as customs and traditions, which can enhance the students’ appreciation of other cultures. Furthermore, many other advantages are also emphasized like imaginative thinking skills, communicative competence (Zahra and Farrah, 2015), creativity, and emotional awareness. It seems that there are a lot of benefits from reading. However, it might not be easy to foster children's and teenagers’ love for reading. Rabbidge and Lorenzutti (2013) mentioned that the EFL contexts in Korea ignore extensive reading in their teaching because they consider that “simple reading” is not a valid use of learning time. Saka (2014) realizes that learner’s stereotype of reading is difficult to understand, boring and unnecessary. Based on the teaching experience, students draw back from reading due to reasons such as time consumption, interruption of difficult words and phrases, short attention span, or interference from electronic devices. For this e-generation, we have to admit that there are many distractions moving children away from reading. Therefore, it is important to discuss how to conduct reading in the EFL classroom. There are many techniques that can be used to narrate a story according to the availability of the materials we have. What is commonly applied is the Pre-reading activity, During-reading activity, and Post-reading activity framework (Trigueros, 2016). The book Sherlock Holmes from Oxford Dominoes Graded Readers is a chosen example in the following discussion. Book selection It is essential to choose the right book for your class. There are two tips. First is to choose the reading materials with the other teachers who share the same reading class with you. The Sherlock Holmes novel was selected because the detective story was popular among teenage readers. In addition, teachers should take students’ age, English level, and interests into thorough consideration. Second, for teaching EFL learners, graded reader series from well-known publishers is always a good choice. Rabbidge and Lorenzutti (2013) indicate that the language level of the text in the graded reader places the novel well within the learners’ linguistic range. The graded reader provides illustrations, glossaries, and audio with a wide range of themes that motivate and support students to read in English. Choosing the right book makes your class easier and more inspiring. Introduction to the book in the beginning To start a reading class, teachers build up students’ appetite for the new book by conducting warm-up activities. Instead of going straight to the reading, you may spend some time talking about the illustrations on the cover page, encouraging students to have anticipation and imagination on the story. Also, introduce the topics to be covered in the chapters by looking through the content. Moreover, teachers can provide a brief description of the main characters as well as a background setting. A trailer of the original film can enhance students’ involvement in the story. At the end of the class, students are required to skim one chapter that the class is going to cover in the next class. Chapter by chapter At the beginning of each chapter, the events that happened in the previous chapter have to be reviewed. With lower-level students, teachers introduce the theme of the current chapter and elicit the meaning of keywords by using visual aids, real objects or pictures which can help learners to have a better understanding of the story. For covering a certain chapter, the author tends to choose 2-3 important parts and assign students to read the conversation with their partners or have a silent reading of chosen parts. Offering time for students to read the whole chapter is not advisable because it may cause boredom or laziness. Meanwhile, PowerPoint and drawing on the whiteboard are good tools to demonstrate the storyline to learners. Teachers use worksheets or questions for students to discuss and find out the key information. And different students from each group can share their answers and opinions to the class. Chapter works and Assessment Teachers can design various kinds of post-reading activities or discussions for students. One advantage of choosing graded reader’s book is that it provides reading activities at the end of each chapter, which helps students to check the comprehension of the story plots as well as important vocabulary. Regarding the assessment, there are relationship charts, read-through, drama, and reflective essays. Relationship charts: Teachers demonstrate a relationship chart from a film and tell students what information has to be included in the chart. Then students get on the stage and indicate their work by pairs. Read-through: Students pretend that they are celebrities and starring roles in Sherlock Holme's story. Before shooting, they have to get their lines ready and act out by their voice. Drama: Choose some interesting plots and distribute them to each group. Students come up with their own scripts and present it with props. Reflective essays: Essay reveals what students experience throughout the reading class. There are inspiring questions such as: which is the most enjoyable part of your reading? What would you like the ending to be? Which character is the most like you? In conclusion, the diversity of teaching techniques can enrich the reading classroom. And the incorporation of graded reader stories in the EFL texts will lead to real enjoyment of reading and enhance learner’s language proficiency. BIBLIOGRAPHY Zahra, N.A.A., and Farrah, M.A. (2015): Using Short Stories in the EFL Classroom. IUG Journal of Humanities Research, Vol. 24, 11-42. Trigueros, R. (2016): Using Stories in Class in an EFL/ESL Class. University of El Salvador: Western University Campus. Saka, Ö. (2014). Short stories in English language teaching. International Online Journal of Education and Teaching (IOJET),1(4), 278-288. Rabbidge, M., and Lorenzutti, N. Teaching Story without Struggle: Using Graded Readers and Their Audio Packs in the EFL Classroom. English Teaching Forum: No.3.