SELECTING REALpictureBOOKs. - a skilled task?
In the beginning stages of learning English young foreign learners need to understand the language printed in REALpictureBOOKs. Although they may gain a great deal of satisfaction from the pictures, if children cannot understand, and eventually use some of the language in the text, they may give up wanting to learn English saying ' English is too difficult.' Success is vital in the early stages of learning as it motivates.
Success largely depends on REALpictureBOOKs having the right text for the language learning level of the children. The Books selected on this website are for beginners; they have short texts usually in spoken language rather than only narrative form. Many texts repeat language naturally throughout the story and after several exposures to these repeated refrains, children pick them as blocks of 'prefabricated' language. ' Where's the ...'Have you seen.....?' 'I'm sorry. I'm busy.' These chunks of language often take children beyond the set curriculum content, but, if it is natural spoken language, it is possible to find ways of using these phrases at other times within a lesson.
Many children's Picture Books are naturally cross-curricular. For example there are many different activities in The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle.
· natural history - the life cycle - egg, caterpillar, cocoon and butterfly day and night - the moon/ the sun a plant - a leaf
· plurals and classifiers for food
· days of the week
However a word of warning; don't be tempted to introduce this book too early in your programme. For many children just beginning English there is too much in this book; for some there may be even new concepts as well as new language to go with them. The cute story with bold illustrations and ingenious cut-outs can keep children happy. But for many children this may not be sufficient; they worry because they can't read or use all of the English that goes with the pictures. This can de-motivate and cause some children to switch off and give up trying to understand beyond the information they can get from the pictures. If these children had started off with stories containing less and simpler text with fewer concepts, they would be able to pick up the language more easily and quicker. This would give them confidence as well as expectations that they were going to be able to understand REALpictureBOOKs and eventually read them.
It is important to try and match the language content of REALpictureBOOKs to the language learning level of children. For this reason this website classifies books for beginners into 3 sections with an indication of the age
Beginners 1a Post Beginners 1b Early Readers 2
N = Nursery N/P Nursery and lower Primary and P= Primary
A story is successful when children gradually begin to complete the end of sentences or phrases themselves, filling up the pauses left by an adult as they read aloud. This leads on to children picking-up all the story. If the story is right for their developmental level and their interests, children soon know the story by heart and can repeat it with pride -. something that doesn't happen so easily with language in a text book unless it is a song or rhyme.