Brown Bear, Brown Bear, Do You See a Very Hungry Caterpillar?

Building blocks of life

Words are the building blocks of life. We become the very person we are today based on words: those that we have heard, read and believed about ourselves.

In an English as a Foreign Language (EFL) or English as a Second Language (ESL) context, book reading is often associated with advanced level students, mostly adults. Although it is extremely important for high level English students to read and write extensively, children’s literature is also an important segment of English language learning. Using children’s books for EFL/ESL teaching has numerous benefits for students, regardless of their age and level.

But students’ age and English level must be taken into consideration, when choosing  appropriate books, writing lesson plans and preparing to teach.

The rule of thumb

In our teachers’ experience, a rule of thumb is: The younger your students are, the more illustrations they will need to keep them interested and help them learn new vocabulary in context. Also, the younger they are, the simpler and shorter and more repetitive the stories should be.

Although every teacher has his or her favorite books, some of the most popular ones for very young beginners are: “The Very Hungry Caterpillar” by Eric Carle and “Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See?” by Bill Martin Jr. and Eric Carle. “The Foot Book” by Dr. Seuss is excellent for teaching opposites and irregular plurals.

For intermediate young learners, “The Eye Book” and “The Ear Book” by Dr. Seuss may be a good choice.

“Green Eggs and Ham” or “The Cat in the Hat” by the same author are suitable for advanced young learners, in many teachers’ opinions.

Reading aloud

Reading is important, whether you are a teacher reading to your students or a parent reading to your children, in your first language or a foreign language they learn at school.

Reading books aloud to our children and students will help them expand their vocabulary, cultivate their imagination and prepare them for autonomous reading and writing.

Read to your children. Read with your children. But most importantly, set a good example by reading yourself.

Go throw your TV sets (and screens) away

In the words of Roald Dahl, a British novelist, short story writer and poet (1916 – 1990), from his children’s book „Charlie and the Chocolate Factory “published in 1964:

So please, oh please, we beg, we pray,

Go throw your TV set away,

And in its place you can install

A lovely bookshelf on the wall.

Then fill the shelves with lots of books.

From all of us at Languages and More, enjoy your reading!

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