World Book Day
Celebrating books at Blue Noun English Language School
It's World Book Day today, I've got my daughter off to school dressed up as her favourite book character, and I'm now thinking about World Book Day in relation to our language school.
At Blue Noun, books are an integral part of our learning experience. We teach mostly through conversation, but the written word is our trusty back up. Of course we need our preferred dedicated language books to look up grammatical oddities (the last one was the rules for when to say 'eldest and when to use oldest'). However, more importantly, we also need a vast array of books in our reading library: all our language learners can help themselves to these books, and come read within our space by day, evening and weekend. We have non-fiction books on most subjects, but particularly Travel, Scotland, Art, Design, Fashion, Ecology, Business/Management and Autobiographies.
Our fiction books are chosen to include some English literature classics, to showcase some Scottish authors whom we admire and to provide a range of accessible but interesting and entertaining stories - which even includes young person's fiction (these too can be great stories, but have reliably simpler language). We love matching a good book to an English language learner, and if we don't already have it, we'll buy it for them.
If you are learning a language, reading is a wonderful way to keep improving your vocabulary, grammar and comfort within a language. Chose a book which you would find addictive in your own language - for this reason, lots of people chose J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter, as you just want to keep reading - it's 'a page-turner'. While some people plow through it with a dictionary, conjugating every verb as they go, others (my camp) just try to forget that they are reading something 'other' and sink into the story. If the book is matched at the right level, it is amazing how quickly you surrender completely to the new experience. I often recommend books within the 'Chick-lit' category too. Not only do they have great story lines (in a boy meets girl kind of way), they are packed with typical conversational language, everyday terminology and contemporary cultural references.
We've all got books which have changed our lives, and its hard not to try share them. For example, my favourite teaching book is:
I thought my Father was God, a NPR Story Project compiled by Paul Auster.
This is an anthology of true-life stories, written by Americans answering a NPR short story project request. They are mostly short, vivid narratives which give very complete glimpses of a fragment of peoples lives - times of passion, grief, heartbreak or wonder. Perhaps I like it so much because I lived in America for three years, but reading this book is to realise that travel is only one way to discover a country and its people: a book like this can get you into places (and minds) you would never ordinarily find. Each story is short, sweet and thought-provoking: perfect for including into class. (Find out more here).
Here's some gems from our non-fiction reading library. They are each very specialist interest, but for the right person, a fabulous find. We try to have something for everyone on our shelves.
Language learners may help themselves to our fiction library. There may be some unexpected things in it, such as the complete series of Andy Stanton's 'Mr Gum' books. (These are there because they are hilarious and great read out loud). We have numerous copies of Mark Haddon's, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time. It is by far our most recommended book for English learners - because of its fairly simple language narrating a story of powerful human interest with a fairly classic much-loved murder mystery (who dun it) format.
So far, most of our language learners have been book lovers. As we are keen to match our clients interests with new ways of learning, books feature a lot on our courses. If you haven't already, read our blog to find out about when Blue Noun English language learner Elsa met Percy Weasly from Harry Potter here, or find out about our regular visits to visits to Scotlands first lending library, the amazing (and local) Innerpeffrey lending library here.
Live language learning!