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Teach English in Jingji KAifAqu - Yangzhou Shi
Readers are leaders: how to instill a love for reading in children? A great part of our education originates from small actions or habits that we repeat everyday since childhood. From our hygiene to the way we cross the road or greet each other, there has been a large amount of repetition and learning, mostly intuitive and natural, that over time has been transmitted to us until it is a natural behavior. We can observe this phenomenon in language learning as well, “there is no better way to learn a language than to immerse yourself in its culture”. The logic that we applied on the previous paragraph comes into effect as well, the immersion in language will have benefits that are only noticeable after a period of time. Benefits of Reading Employ your time in improving yourself by other men’s writings so that you shall come easily by what others have labored hard for. – Socrates In language learning, reading has exponential importance. The exposure to grammatical structures, vocabulary and punctuation will provide students with references that will come together with the knowledge taught inside the classroom. This references will align and make further sense as the student advances in language learning and understand why for example an author used direct speech in some parts and reported speech on others, or how some contextual components work together in different situations. Educators as prompters and resource facilitators The role of educators is complex and most seem to agree that there is no one size fits all solution or a magical script that will work with every student. However we do know that understanding students interests and using examples that are relatable, will help improve students’ attention ratios and enhance their understanding of the language concepts, with references to something they find interesting and easier to remember. The most common problem faced when teaching younger students is lack of motivation and short attention span, which can result in students being more unwilling to have an interest in education focused materials. For this reason, teachers should be extra careful when choosing the right educational material and should take in consideration the level of engagement seriously. With this in mind, teachers and educators can try and guide students to induce the habit of reading targeted to a specific interest. In other words, educators need to understand that there is a balance between purpose and entertainment that we need to pay closer attention too; on one hand teachers want to provide examples that are related to what they are teaching, while on the other hand they need to keep students interested and engaged. Proposals for the usage of trending material such as memes, movies and others We are in the age of “hype, trends and viral content” and what better way to engage students than to study, reflect upon and use this content as material. If there is a new hot trending meme why not use them to make a point “Keep Calm and Carry On” for lessons that we know require a bit of patience, a “distracted boyfriend” meme for things that we usually undervalue in language like the proper grammar structure. This will provide an added entertainment and relatability aspect while also creating an easier reference for students. Nonetheless memes are short and their educational value is reduced. As educators, we can still find other ways to bring trends closer to language learning: “That latest movie of the Lord of the Rings was great? Have you tried reading the book? it’s even better!” “Have you read the latest DC comic?” “Did you enjoy that documentary about Nikola Tesla? There is a very interesting book about his life I think you would like as well”. Teachers need to understand language level and appropriateness. It makes no sense to suggest a beginner to read a book about Tesla, or for someone who doesn’t like comics to read a comics book. This is a crucial aspect to keep students engaged, teachers need to find something that is appropriate for their language level, has the students interest and is valuable for language learning. So, for instance, a short presentation on simple memes like “Keep Calm and Carry On” would probably be quite helpful for beginners we would need a more contextually deep meme for intermediate or advanced learners. The Social media boom is another point of language learning that is undervalued by teachers and educators. The amount of time people nowadays spend on social media is very high and teachers could use it as a platform for language learning. However there is also the need to understand that social media should be used for something short and informative, as too much information will tend to be ignored. Another underrated resource for language learning are proverbs. Proverbs have a deep contextual meaning that were used as small valuable lessons passed from generation to generation, for example when saying “Judge a tree by its fruits, not by its leave.” it does not mean that you should judge trees but has a contextual meaning of not judging a person by looks but by what they do. Conclusion Reading takes central part in language learning, and creating reading habits can exponentially increase language learning. However, teachers understand that children and teenagers have relatively short attention spans and can lack motivation to learn something they feel obliged to. To engage this problem, different teachers come up with different creative solutions focused on engagement and shared interests. I believe there is a role to play in social media and trendy topics, but also a thinner line between engagement and educating value that should be considered in all activities that are not in-class.