Up Close and (un)Conventional #17 – What to Read with ESL High School Students

Posted 3 July, 2015 by Linda @ (un)Conventional Bookworms in Discussion Posts / 2 Comments

Up Close and (un)Conventional

Up Close and (un)Conventional #17

Welcome to this week’s Up Close and (un)Conventional. This is where I discuss both things that have to do with reading and blogging, and things that just have to do with life in general. This week, I’m going to talk a little bit about what books to read with ESL high school students. As many of you already know, I was fortunate enough to have a substitute teacher position from January through June this year at one of the local high schools. And I really loved it! Because my students were advanced, they were supposed to read two novels during the school year, and when I took over for their teacher, they had just started reading a book. It was The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon. And it was a good book, well written and with good language. However, I don’t think I would have chosen that particular novel for them myself! The narrator is 15-year-old Christopher, who has Asperger’s Syndrome. While it was definitely interesting to read about a character who is different, it also made following the narration a little difficult. And I think it also made it quite hard for the students to identify with Christopher, even if he was about the same age as them.

Luckily for me, the teacher I was replacing had already prepared both a vocabulary help and questions to help make the reading more focused. I would have had a hard time doing that for a book I discovered when I took over the class! For the second novel, I had the students choose from a list of contemporary novels including The Maze Runner, The Hunger Games and If I Stay. I wanted to reward them with watching the movie after we had finished reading and discussing the story in detail. They chose If I Stay, and I think that was partly because it was the shortest story… we all enjoyed discussing it, both because it was a coming of age story, where Mia fell in love for the first time, and all the different feelings and / or trouble that comes with that, as well as strong family dynamics, friendship, grief and loss.

For the time being, I don’t know if I’ll be teaching long-term as a substitute teacher during a maternity leave as I did this year, and I don’t know what grade I’d be teaching either. But I would still love some suggestions as to what to read with my students! If they are the same age as the students I had this year, I think that something contemporary would work very well, as long as the writing is good, and it’s possible to do some literary analysis as well as making comparisons to real life.

Thanks for stopping by, and for helping me prepare for the next year πŸ™‚

Linda @ (un)Conventional Bookworms

About Linda @ (un)Conventional Bookworms

Linda is an English as foreign language teacher and has a Master's degree in English Language and Literature. She's an avid reader, blogger, compulsive one-clicker and a genre omnivore. Ever since she learnt how to read she has been seen with a book or two in her hands everywhere she goes.

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2 responses to “Up Close and (un)Conventional #17 – What to Read with ESL High School Students

  1. I’m going to have to look up some books, but I do recall from my own ESL classes that it is best to let them read in circles or read together to help support listening and reading the words.

    Oh, Lexxie! I think another good thing to approach for ESL students is graphic novels! ESL students are encourages to connect concrete to vocabulary, so GN could help with this concept!

    Lyn Kaye recently posted: Epic Recs Review: I Am the Messenger
    • Graphic novels is a great idea, Lyn, but I would probably have to get those from abroad, as the ones I find in Switzerland are translated to either French or German… It’s true that reading something with images to help move the story forward is good when learning a new language.
      It’s always difficult to find the right pick, because the writing has to be really good, and I know a lot of teachers rely on classics for this reason. It’s just that while I love classics, they are also sometimes a little tedious to read, and I want English to be fun as well.

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