Blog | English Language Learning | Centre For Excellence

Using the ESL Literacy Readers

  • Using the ESL Literacy Readers

The following blog post was written by Katrina Derix-Langstraat, a faculty member at the Centre for Excellence in Immigrant and Intercultural Advancement.

I use the ESL Literacy Readers with my Phase I Initial class.  Early this semester, I used the reader Deng Starts School with my class as part of a theme unit exploring classroom routines and vocabulary.  I chose this reader for a few reasons:

  • the pictures are simple, with only 1 item per page
  • the pictures correspond to actual items we have learned about in our own classroom, allowing me to recycle previously learned vocabulary
  • the text is repetitive and predictable
  • some of my learners have small children starting school, and need to become familiar with school customs in Alberta (e.g. teachers sending notes home, students needing inside/outside shoes, buying school supplies)

The ESL Literacy Readers can be used to recycle and spiral language and skills in many ways.  I’ve found that the learning is richest when I use and re-use them in as many ways as possible.

I introduced the reader in several steps:
  • I showed pictures from the story and elicited vocabulary such as school, teacher, letter, pencil, Mom, etc.   
  • For the first listening of the story, I gave each student a picture that matched a word from the story (pencils, markers, erasers, shoes, etc).  As I read the story on the screen the first time, learners stood up for the page where their item appeared.
  • We then read the story together on the screen.  I read each sentence and the learners repeated.
  • I gave the book to the learners and to familiarize themselves with it, I asked them to listen and find the pictures of the items I called out.  This helped consolidate any new vocabulary.
  • Learners then read the story several times together as a class, in pairs/ table groups and individually. 
In subsequent classes, I recycled and spiraled the language from the story in a variety of ways:
  • Stand for your word activity, in which you give each learner a word from the story and they stand every time you read that word, as you read the story aloud to them. I think this is an effective way to show the repetitive structure of the story, as the same people will be standing in the same order over and over again. 
  • Matching cards, with pictures and words from the story
  • Worksheets: matching words to pictures from the story, copying words beside pictures, word search puzzles, etc.
  • Slappers:  I write several key words from the story on the board in random order (like a splash).  I break the class into 2 teams and have them line up in front of the board.  The front person from the team gets a “slapper” (flyswatter).  I call out a word and they race to the board to slap the word they hear.  The first one gets a point for their team.  This reinforces listening and sight word reading skills.

I’m sure there are a hundred more ways to extend and recycle language and skills using these readers. 

Any other ideas?  What ideas / activities have you used that work well?