In this presentation, I will speak about the many benefits of reading activities such as book clubs for students, including increasing vocabulary and comprehension skills, critical thinking, creativity, and even writing ability. It will discuss some methods of starting a successful book club and choosing themes and materials that keep students engaged and increase their love of reading. Finally, I will talk about my personal experience being a part of a book club and facilitating a book club at the university here in Cahul.
Why do we as teachers encourage reading? Please answer in the comments box.
Despite all these inherent benefits to reading, and despite the fact that reading can induce intense pleasure and satisfaction in someone reading in their first language, foreign language learners tend to express distaste at reading in their target language.
Intensive = building skills (the problem with this method is that if it is done alone, it can become very exhausting for students, so you want to alternate intensive exercises with extensive exercises) Extensive = maintaining skills and gaining confidence in those skills (I might suggest collecting students’ phones; also take them to the park or to a quite cafe
*Mention Beauty and the Beast specifically here* Talk about how I do intensive reading in the classroom: first doing pre-reading vocabulary exercises; asking the students to predict what the story will be about based on the vocabulary; then listening to the story in its entirety without stopping and asking students how much they picked up; then going through the story paragraph by paragraph and asking students to read so that they develop phonetic skills; asking students to translate the paragraphs in their entirety (many times I’ll have students break up into groups to do this); and afterwards asking them comprehension questions that deal with the plot, characters, setting and theme, as well as with the new vocabulary words; but then I also try to incorporate an element of the extensive reading afterwards by having them complete a writing assignment or an art assignment for homework, and whenever I can I look for film adaptations of the short stories we read so that they can get more English language exposure but also get it visually and not just auditorily, and students love coming to class when they know they will get to watch a movie.
All of these strategies I use in the classroom I also use in the book club that I facilitate this semester, but before I get into the specifics of that, I want to talk a little bit about why book clubs are beneficial to students and to people in general, and how anyone can start a book club.
http://www.thereadingclub.co.uk/lifelong-benefits-of-joining-a-book-club.html The work isn’t graded, so not only is it less stressful, but it is more honest. Students won’t feel like they have something to prove. And they may feel more comfortable to speak up knowing their daily grade doesn’t depend on it. But, unknowingly, they will be improving themselves and improving their confidence and skills, and therefore may end up speaking up more in class, which will have the effect of actually IMPROVING their classroom grade. The students that come actually want to be there, so as a facilitator and teacher, you don’t have to worry about unengaged students spoiling the atmosphere.\ Everyone knows that reading expands your horizons and book clubs help to do this at an even greater level, with the in-depth discussions and assimilations of different viewpoints all contributing to increasing your knowledge and appreciation of the world around you. Joining a reading group can also help to extend your reading, as you'll be tempted to try different types of books that you might not otherwise have chosen by yourself. Many people can become accustomed to the comfort of reading in a favourite genre and may not realise how much they might actually enjoy an altogether different type of book, until they are persuaded to try by other members of the reading group. Despite not having a formalised classroom structure, reading groups are actually a fantastic place to promote learning. Discussing books helps to reinforce things in your mind and enable you to retain information better. In addition, the informal learning environment means that there is less fear of "failing" or humiliation before classmates, whilst the urge to participate means that people will be more motivated to read the book and gain the information. Each new book allows you the opportunity to "start afresh" and "do better" - whether it is with more participation, improved leadership of discussions, more commitment to reading or simply better retention of the information learnt. Book clubs enable you to appreciate otherwise "dry" topics within the context of an involving story - for example, reading books set in certain periods allow you to learn more about history, without the dread of boring facts and dates. Book clubs can also be great ways to travel and appreciate other cultures - not only through the books themselves but also through any members with different backgrounds. And discussing these differences helps everyone to understand them by placing them within a larger context. Participating in reading group discussions does wonders for your communication skills, teaching you to listen to different points of view and different ways of expression, as well as "discuss and disagree" without resorting to emotional arguments. It teaches you to be both honest and yet tactful, which is a difficult but extremely valuable skill. It provides great experience for use in other arenas, such as work and business - and even family events - so that you learn to express yourself appropriately and accept disagreements without taking it personally. For those shy of public speaking, book clubs are a great way to start practising expressing your opinions to an audience or summarising information and presenting it in a coherent and engaging way. Reading groups with a rotating roster of leaders means that everyone has a chance to practise their leadership skills and the management of a group of people, with different backgrounds and opinions. Book clubs can help you appreciate books that you had rejected in your childhood or within the confines of your school curriculum, as the imminent discussion motivates you to read with more purpose and attention. In particular, having to present a book to the group helps you to crystallise and categorise the information so that it can be conveyed easily and efficiently. For those with writing aspirations, book clubs can be a wonderful breeding ground for ideas as well as provide the motivation for you to pen your own literary masterpiece. Listening to other people's assessment of a book and their discussion of likes and dislikes about plot, character and style, can help enormously in your quest to become a better, more successful writer. Last but not least, book clubs are great social forums and provide many opportunities to meet and befriend new people from all walks of life, as well as providing an enjoyable and meaningful addition to your social calendar.
Make sure the students that sign up are ones that are really committed to being regular participants. If I could go back, I would do this. I never had sign ups for my book club, and I never know when I’ll have 10 people or when I’ll have no one. Also, there is never a guarantee that who shows up will be at the right level to understand the story I have picked out. And I think a lot of the hesitation with coming is that people weren’t able to choose what we were reading. I had an idea for a theme based on literature that I find interesting and issues that I think are relevant and important, but other people may not feel the same way.
Real American Heroes: Bryan Stevenson (Just Mercy), Paul Farmer (Mountains Beyond Mountains by Tracy Kidder), Hidden Figures: The Story of the African-American Women Who Helped Win the Space Race by Margot Lee Shetterly, etc. Popular series like the Hunger Games or Harry Potter Current World Events – have students bring in articles (make sure they are from reputable news sources) Books turned into Oscar-winning movies Girl Power book club
Every month we had a theme, Black History in February, Women’s History in March, and Immigrant stories in April and May
Book clubs and beyond
Book Clubs and Beyond:
Encouraging Reading for
Pleasure and Personal Growth
4 May 2017
Presenter: Nicole Marton – U.S. Fulbright Scholar | Cahul, Moldova
Discover important benefits of reading that will
increase one’s motivation to read more.
Discuss in-classroom and out-of-the-classroom
methods to encourage reading.
Learn strategies for starting and facilitating a
successful book club.
Become familiar with online reading platforms.
Reflect on my own experiences with book clubs.
Benefits of Reading
Increased Diversity of
Stronger Critical and Analytical
Improved Focus and
Better Writing Skills
Strategies to Increase Student
Teachers choose short and very
interesting texts (30-35 minutes
Push student levels/build skills
Make detailed analysis of
content and vocabulary, using
dictionaries and other tools
Test for comprehension and
Students choose their own longer texts
to read over an extended period of time.
Adhere to student level or err slightly
below level/maintain already developed
skills, instead stressing reading for
No more than 4-5 unknown words per
page, which should be easily
deciphered from context (avoid using
Evaluation done with book reports,
summaries, creative writing, and
artwork based on students’
interpretations and takeaways.
My Intensive Reading Method
1. Pre-reading vocabulary
2. Pre-reading predictions
3. Listening to the story in its
entirety without stopping
4. Asking students how much
they picked up
5. Student reading paragraph by
6. Translating (in groups)
comprehension questions that
deal with the plot, characters,
setting and theme
8. Vocabulary quizzes
9. Writing or art assignment
10. Film adaptation with
comparison to text version
Student Reading Paragraph by
The Crazy Professor Reading
Book Clubs: Benefits
No marks = less anxiety = better
Everyone is engaged
Increase confidence in speaking
Develop leadership and
Read material you may not otherwise
have chosen, and perhaps learn in a
fun and interesting way about
subjects you’d otherwise find
Interact with different viewpoints
during in-depth discussions; learn
how to gracefully disagree with
someone and appreciate alternate
ideas; discover your inherent values
and maybe your unfounded biases
Experience other cultures (“travel”
Become a more successful writer
and build creative ideas more easily
How to Have a Successful Book Club
Start planning a couple months early
Have participants sign up, and make sure that
everyone is more or less on the same reading
level. It may also be a good idea to limit
participation to a certain number
Involve interested participants in choosing a day of
the week and time
Establish a location, or talk to participants about
rotating the location
Involve participants in choosing a theme *including
whether they prefer short stories or full-length
books) and a NAME!
Make a list of books/stories (make sure it is a
realistic amount for how long you plan your club
will be active), and let participants contribute ideas
Create a Facebook page for your book club, where you
can post reminders about meetings, and where
participants can continue discussions
Make a Goodreads account for the group; or have each
participant make their own account, and create a group
Have food and drinks at the meeting
Decide if the bulk of reading should be done at home or
during the club meetings
Rotate the leader who will facilitate the discussion each
week. This person should come prepared with
questions for the group.
Decide if you want your reading to be intensive or
International Children’s Digital
The Literature Network
Exploring Culture through
Exploring Culture through American Literature" is an
English Reading Club investigating racial, cultural,
...ethnic, and gender conflict in United States history
through the reading and discussion of American short
stories and excerpts from American novels. Come
learn about a lesser-known side of American history,
while improving your English language skills and
cultural awareness. Discover how literature can
expose injustice and contribute to its resolution.
Exploring Culture through
Who’s Passing for Who? by Langston Hughes
Desiree’s Baby by Kate Chopin
The Homecoming by Frank Yerby
The Story of an Hour by Kate Chopin
Trifles by Susan Glaspell
Hills Like White Elephants by Ernest Hemingway
Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie