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Children Learn About Other Cultures Through ESL Storybooks

Aug 29, 2008
Hearing about the homes where other children live are perhaps the first thing a child will notice. They will ask questions about what they see, and through the problems encountered in a good story gain a broader understanding or the world beyond their own doors. A good selection of ESL stories will present a view of many different kinds of homes in a variety of places.

The games that foreign children play are of great interest, especially if some games are included as a part of the ESL kid's activities. By participating in games the children not only learn English, but they learn to cooperate in a way that may be different from the games of their own culture.

ESL Stories that have an exciting plot will spark the children's imagination. They identify with the hero or heroine and live their adventures with them. Young children don't separate reality and fantasy, for them it is all very real. This provides an opportunity for educators to develop the student's thinking skills. Questions such as, "What do you think they will do?" can lead to brainstorming for ideas. The class can have fun thinking up solutions to the problems of the storybook characters. They'll gain confidence with this if they are shown that their solution are just as good as the ones in the ESL stories.

New creative storybook endings can also be developed in several ways, depending on the age and English language abilities of the children.
- For younger children their story ending might be expressed through the teacher or the children drawing on the board. These can also be done by the children on paper. Each child or pair of children can illustrate the story ending with their own ideas. In this way they are internalizing the meaning of the language.
- Oral language is another approach. Through input from the children the teacher can build their story ending step by step and retell it for them. It's fun to retell it for several sentences and then stop and have them add the next part. The story will keep changing with each retelling but that only increases the amount of language being presented. The key here is to stop the activity as soon as the children's interest starts to fade. The activity may last only three minutes or it may last ten or fifteen minutes, every group is different.
- Storybooks are a perfect medium for motivating written language. They provide the stimulus and the basic ideas for the children to start from. Questions such as: "What would you do" or "Do you think he/she will escape?" or "What should they do?" are ready made creative writing activities that ESL storybooks can provide.

The common thread throughout all of these suggestions is that the class is a cohesive whole. The students are working together in large groups, small groups or individually, but always surrounded by the stimulation of ideas from their classmates. In this way storybooks present the lives of English speaking children in an exciting way. They will motivate ESL children to participate more, become more involved and they will learn English in an imaginative environment.
About the Author
ESL-Storybooks.com is a resource site for ESL Teachers, with original
ESL stories for beginning ESL children.
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