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These things are not necessarily bad, and are often valuable tools for helping to teach English, but in these media-saturated times, it’s important to instil in kids the pleasure of reading stories. The extra effort students need to focus on reading a story, and the sense of accomplishment when they successfully understand, is absolutely worth it. Not only will you open up an imaginative world for your child, countless studies have also shown that reading for pleasure has a big impact on your child’s development.
For English learners, developing the habit of reading for pleasure takes English out of the classroom and into their natural life. Such children are learning new vocabulary and structures completely naturally, like a native speaker does. Once your child is enjoying English books for fun, they are unlikely to lose that habit.
This year, the Primary English Department has a number of initiatives designed to promote reading for pleasure among the students. The main one is our Reading Circle lesson. This will happen at least once every three weeks, and consists of both a guided reading and free reading time.
For the guided reading in Grades 3 and 4, we are creating original stories which are centred around a Unit theme, or a special event, like Halloween. These stories use the key vocabulary and structures the students have already studied, with only a few new words or phrases (that they can understand from context). At the same time, they aim to excite the students’ imagination with interesting stories and funny characters. We encourage the students to read these stories multiple times, which will help them to become more comfortable reading texts of a longer length. Some students are surprised at being able to understand an English story this long, and this confidence boost is great for increasing reluctant readers’ interest.
We also have a growing library of English language books, which the students can read in their free-reading time. These range from beginner to advanced, and we are adding new books all the time. When we have enough, we hope to allow students to take them home. They particularly like Dr. Seuss and Diary of a Wimpy Kid.
As parents, please do as much as you can to encourage your children to read for fun. Allow them to choose their own English books or comic books. By creating natural readers, we are creating natural English users, and building a love for using English they keep forever.