Beyond the obvious benefits that reading a book can give a student who is either a native speaker or a second language learner, there is one benefit I try to impress upon my M4 students that can sometimes be overlooked: Analytical Thinking. Sure it can leaned through expressly developed critical reading texts, which I use, but novels offer a unique opportunity to develop this skill.
This week we started reading a teen novel by R.L. Stine called "Halloween Night." Stine gets right into the personal drama and uses horror and suspense effectively and all of these things are of interest to young Thai readers. They like a good ghost story with a love triangle.
We did the normal work of reading, discussing, vocabulary, writing summaries etc. Then the day after the first day of reading I asked them who had thought about the book, the story and the characters. Most said they had thought about it. They said they had thought about the motivations of the characters, their reactions and behavior. Some had even read further to find out what would happen next.
So what they were doing was analyzing, simple thinking about the situation and looking at it from different angles. And as long as they are reading that book this may, can and probably will happen further. I know this is all very elementary to Western folk, taught from a early age to think and read and think about what we are reading, but to see them getting involve in a story, (and this is not the first time) and think about it is rewarding. To see them think, discuss and analyze is kind of cool.
And these teen novels are not Thomas Mann like offerings but they do have all the makings of a good story, love, betrayal, murder, suspense, tragedy and hope.
"Goddamn it Lord, bless oh ye this bacon..."
George Liquor American
Required reading in many US states is To Kill a Mocking Bird. Great story and relevant to contemporaneity American issues still. The thing is it's boring for the first 200 pages - or until the trial gets under way. It takes a certain will to get to that point. I say let'em read what they want. It least they're reading.
You are so right anout reading. Thais have limited opportunity to speak to Ferrang. Reading is a skill that gives Thais the opportunity to learn for themselves. they can access the web and free their minds. I've written 30 english books so far for Pratom 1-6, they love them. Problem is here there are not enough books at the simple level. Thailand loves to put over complicated words into kids books which does not encourage reading for enjoyment. The kids I teach love to read as its a challenge. they go home and see english outside the classroom. 70% of my Pratom 2 are taking books home. words they don't know they look up in the dictionary. Thai students are not taught learning skills, a result of repeating and memorising words. Thai education produces robots. Thining outside the box is a must.
...yeah, we read Animal Farm the first semester and that was a little much...Originally Posted by jonny danger
Couldn't agree more, but the problem is the complete lack of any comprehnsion of the idea of reading for pleasure.Originally Posted by jonny danger
Here in the middle east a lot of my IELTS students are convinced they should just be reading past papers all the time.
Most are not beyond salvation though, as unlike so many thai students they do largely actually listen to what is said by people in the know.
I reached the conclusion that at least half of my thai students literally didn't take in a word I said.
If you are their teacher I bet we have a pretty good idea what their level is. I'll find something for them I feel is about right, then watch and take note of the best and worst readers. Let's say a page is 300 words. I figure if I see the best reach for their dictionary three times a page it's about right for them. The slow ones will be trapped in a circle of hard labour, the more he uses his dictionary the farther he slips into a void of what we experts call, fuck this.
J.D. I'm stopping off in Chumporn tonight - if you fancy a beer and a bit of 'light' intellectual conversation give me a call 0894157100
I'm doing the BFG with my lot. There's a chapter coming up about the joys of farting. This is the kind of thing that makes Dahl such a good read. He doesn't write for a kid's education or personal improvement. He writes books for them to enjoy.
The best.Originally Posted by jonny danger
Pan; it sounds like you have some good M4 students. Lucky old you... this is how they should be after supposedly learning English since P1!!!!
When I have a good class (which means about the same level as Pan's), I also believe in pushing the reading. It is in the Thai government requirements, but it is not very well enforced or re-enforced.
I have them read stuff like:
The Lottery by Shirley Jackson
Testimony of Trees by Jessey Stuart(think that is the name)
Dante's peak by Dewey Graham
It expands your knowledge, perception, vocabulary and helps your reading skills. And most importantly it adds to your cognitive abilities such as analytical thinking.
but for the majority of schools in Thailand, forget it. They won't start learning English for real unless they have to.
and either way, I don't care, I just want to get paid.
Miles and miles to go before I sleep...
...which is just fine...if the kids enjoy the book, they might read another...Originally Posted by Just another BOF
...they are advanced English learners...many are smart...others have just been forced to respond during all these years...the M3s coming behind them got short changed with larger classes...but many can discuss ideas and not just parrot a lesson...Originally Posted by ScorpioPower
...these M4s also have many English classes, four classes, totalling nine hours a week!!! the basic course is 3 hours, 2 hours reading, 2 hours listening and speaking and 2 hours of writing...
...great selections...Originally Posted by DunceCap
Last edited by panhunger; 14th November 2006 at 18:31. Reason: Automerged Doublepost
I find it amazing that your M4 students can talk to you about motivations, reactions, and behavior of the characters of a book.Originally Posted by panhunger
I would find this challenging even with a Thai english teacher.
Sixth I see you're settling in.
In a way, I know what you mean. However, let's break it down. It's much easier than you think.Originally Posted by sixthbeast
First, the students speak well and have become unafraid of making mistakes. Second, these students have less hang ups about talking about things than do Thai English teachers, do to four years of cultural intervention...but it's even more simple than that.
Motivation: Why did the character do that? ...because blah, blah, blah...not a real difficult answer.
Reaction: Why did the character scream when she heard the news her mother died? ...because she was shocked and blah, blah, blah...
Behavior: Why did the character steal the money? ...because she was hungry and blah, blah, blah...
We are not talking existential crap, just basic 'why' stuff...
Actually, I would really consider using comic books in my university classrooms. Somehow they are less intimidation for Thai students. There are some cutting edge comics that would encourage analytical thinking. Has anyone read Maus or some of the older Linda Barry comics about childhood? Even Japanese manga could work if it is toned down a bit.
I don't think my students wouldn't actually go for thicker novels or western classics. They complain even when I have them read short stories by Thai writers. There attention span is very short in terms of English literature. I can't imagine a life without reading. Thais are missing out on so much information.