Posts Tagged ‘literacy’

The last time I wrote about the value of reading, I latched onto the words of my TV buddies – The Simpsons – when they proclaimed: Books have an amazing power!

But when I come across a visual which says (nearly) all that I write, think and feel, I just love it!!

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All schools believe in the importance of encouraging its students to learn languages other than English.   While some schools offer classes in one or perhaps two additional languages, I’m really lucky to be working in a school which offers our secondary students the opportunity to learn any one of four foreign languages!

Recognizing that literacy extends beyond English, I decided that it would be valuable to incorporate all of these languages in our yearly literary focus during Book Week.

So, I approached our head of LOTE (Languages Other Than English) to see if he and his language teachers would agree to get on board and team with the library staff to create an event that would involve all of our secondary students giving them an opportunity to have a ‘taste’ of each of the different languages on offer in our school: French, German, Japanese and Chinese.

And so began the process of figuring out how best to do it!

With the luxury of a very large library, we offered our space for each language to set up a ‘work station’.  Each of the language teachers were asked to approach students who would be the key players and leaders of the event by reading stories in their chosen language.   Because finding sufficient appropriate books in each of the languages was proving to be difficult, I jumped on the phone and soon discovered that one of our local libraries had a heap of both picture story and fiction books in each of the languages we taught.   After taking out a library membership there, I had a ball selecting a huge bundle of books in languages I was unable to read!

The final element to be incorporated into the event involved food and music.  With a very meager shopping budget, it was amazing to see the range and amount of food that was assembled with much love and attention by the students and staff of the different languages.  With music sourced the LOTE teachers, we provided either a CD player or a laptop from which they could play their music.

The event, held over a lunch time, was preceded by much publicity – posters, flyers, write ups in the school newsletter and announcements at student assemblies.

With four work stations in the four corners of the library, just a trickle of visitors started to arrive at the designated start time.   It didn’t take long though before the library was flooded with students who came in to see what was going on.  Excitement and engagement ensued!

With a cacophony of music in four different languages at the same time, our library was transformed from its usually quiet space to the kind of sight normally seen at an Expo!   In amongst the food and music, it was a delight to see many students wandering around to the different language stations to ‘catch a glimpse’ of the different languages taught at our school.   Most thrilling of all was seeing students read to each other!   A group of students pulled up some floor space and enjoyed a reading in French by a proficient French student.   One of our Chinese students who is learning German, entertained another group of listeners.  Speakers of Japanese, German, French and even one of our students who comes from Singapore, as well as many of our ‘just English speakers’ were mesmerized by an ongoing talk given by one of our Chinese students about the construction of written Chinese.

It was a fabulous event.  Exciting, engrossing and enticing.  Students involved in the presentations loved it and those who attended raved about what a great event it had been.

Give it a go.  If it worked for me, it may also work for you!


Following the success of this event, a request was received from INCITE, a publication of the Australian Library and Information Association, to write up details for publication.   The article was subsequently published on March 1, 2015 in INCITE – Volume 36, Issue 3, March 2015 .

Inspiring a love of reading among senior school students

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I came across this video some time ago, but just last week, as I was listening to a pep talk a colleague gave to a Year 9 class about the value of reading, I later that day happened upon this video again.

It’s heartbreaking, isn’t it, to consider that so many children around the world are unable to enjoy the sort of opportunities that our students take for granted.  The United Nations defines an illiterate person as someone who cannot read or write a short statement about his everyday life and estimates that 49% of children in developing countries will never learn to read.

I’ve lost track of how many students I’ve spoken to over the years about the value of reading.  It’s a topic I am passionate about.  Reading is a gateway to the world.   Not only does it provide the conduit to explore concepts and experiences that are otherwise unattainable, but as we read, the vocabulary and sentence structure to which we are exposed soak into our minds and provide us with the fodder for our own writing.   Encouraging our students to write is as important as encouraging them to read.  The two processes go hand in hand.

As we move further into the 21st Century, where arguments continue unabated about the worth of eBooks and whether they will soon replace the books we’ve grown up with, the one constant is that the power of words will remain.   Reading begets writing.  Literacy begets literacy.

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