Saturday, October 29, 2011

The wonderful sound of your own stories....

Last Wednesday our primary school children had a story time - all at the same time - but with different languages being used to tell and read the stories. We had English, Turkish, German, Korean. Spanish, Dutch, Danish, Swedish, Japanese, Hebrew, French.... some groups were very large (split into upper and lower primary) and others were a select few. Our readers and storytellers were teachers, parents and students. In some groups the older sibling was reading to her younger siblings. We used story books and the International Children's Digital Library to provide story books when we didn't have that language represented. There was great excitment as the children gathered in the various rooms. It was wonderful to hear the chat and the enjoyment. We hope to run this again in February during our love reading week. Thank you to all my colleagues at IICS and the students who took part.

Why do this? There is a lot of research as to how the students' home lnaguages are important to the acquiring of a second language. In our school the language of tuition is English. For some of our students the only time they speak, listen, read or write in English is at school. There is evidence to suggest that free voluntary reading of the home language supports development of the second or third or fourth languages of the student. A paper was presented at the 'Hands on Literacy Conference' in Singapore in 2008 by Jan Stipek investigating the value of free voluntary reading. It is well worth the read. I hope when we run the event in February we will have free voluntary reading for the Mirddle School children at the same time. They will be encouraged to bring any reading material in a language the use in their homes. Let's see where all of this leads.