If you’re interested in teaching English as a Foreign Language, chances are you’re a bibliophile, or book lover. We certainly are! Whether it’s historical biographies, Young Adult fiction, easy reads or the classics, there are books to suit every taste and interest. National Book Lover’s Day is on the 9 August so it’s the perfect day to put down your phone and get stuck in a book!
Did you know?
Before we celebrate this momentous day, let us look at a few facts about books that you might not have known.
- The very first books used calf-skin or parchment instead of paper. Book covers were often wooden or leather. At Harvard University Library there are even books believed to be bound in human skin!
- The first libraries were opened in the Middle Ages. The oldest library which is still running is at Saint Catherine’s Monastery at the foot of Mount Sinai in Egypt. It was established in AD 565.
- The printing press was invented by Johannes Gutenburg in 1440.
- Abibiliophobia is the fear of running out of something to read. But we’re not worried about that because there are more than 120 million books in existence!
- Bill Gates bought a book by Leonardo Da Vinci (Codex Leicester) for $30.8 million in 1994. It is considered the most expensive book ever sold.
- There is a sentence in Les Misérables which is 823 words long. Apparently it is the longest sentence ever printed in literature.
- The first book written on a typewriter was Mark Twain’s The Adventures of Tom Sawyer.
- The three most read books in the world are The Holy Bible, Quotations from Chairman Mao Tse-Tung and Harry Potter.
- Warsaw, Poland has the most libraries per capita in the world, with 11.5 libraries per 100 000 citizens.
- Shakespeare is thought to have introduced over 1 700 words into the English language.
- Maria Teresa Calderon from the Philippines is currently the world’s fastest reader. She can read an unbelievable 80 000 words a minute with 100% comprehension! To put that into perspective, the average person reads 250 – 300 words a minute with 70% comprehension.
- Dorothy Straight is the youngest published author. She wrote her book How the World Began when she was just four years old.
- In Ankara, Tukey, garbage collectors have opened a library with all the books they found which had been thrown out. Originally just for the garbage collectors and their families, the library now has over 6 000 books and is open to the public.
So yes we love reading, but how is that helpful for our learners?
Read more: 5 Books Every EFL Teacher Should Read
How can reading help with language learning?
Reading is a well-known way to learn or improve a learner’s skill in a language. Learners are exposed to vocabulary, grammar and natural language through reading, more so than any other medium. The language used in books is richer than what a person is exposed to in spoken language. Seeing a word visually helps learners remember those words. At the same time, storybooks and graded readers contain more than just language. They usually have pictures which act to support comprehension and retention.
In general, reading and writing help children express their ideas and thoughts. In the EFL classroom, they are given the opportunity to do this in English. If utilised correctly, incorporating reading into your English as a Foreign Language lesson will not only increase your students’ appreciation for the language but will help them learn it more quickly too.
Read more: The Best TEFL Books for the TEFL Teacher
How to celebrate National Book Lover’s Day
One word: READ!
National Book Lover’s Day is a day for you to remind yourself of the beauty of a good book. Often these days we are so busy we just don’t have the time to sit down and read a few pages, which is a pity. We are usually more likely to scroll through social media than to catch up on our favourite novel. National Book Lover’s Day is a day when we should find the time to dedicate to one of our favourite pastimes. Pick up your favourite book, or your latest book, find a quiet spot in the sun or under a blanket and lose yourself for as long as possible.
In the classroom, why not dedicate a lesson this week to reading or talking about literature. There are a number of different activities you can do to incorporate reading and literature into a lesson and make sure it has language learning elements as well.
Read more: Literature in the EFL Classroom
Here are a few of our favourite ideas:
- With Young Learners, incorporate story time into your lesson. Be sure to read in an animated voice and with actions or songs as you go along. Afterwards, your students can draw a picture or a scene from the book. Alternatively they can make puppets and re-enact the story in groups using the puppets.
- Ask your learners to bring in the book they are currently reading or their favourite book. In groups, they can prepare and give a review of the book to their classmates. This doesn’t have to be an English book but they will explain the book in English.
- Compile a quiz of general knowledge questions on literature from around the world. Put your students into teams and have a class quiz.
- If possible, take your students to visit the local library. You can dedicate a lesson to explaining how a library works and the Dewey Decimal system. Once at the library, you can prepare a treasure hunt for your students to find certain books. Or you can let them browse and find books they might like.
- If your class really doesn’t like reading, plan a lesson around a film which is based on the book. During the lesson, you can read excerpts from the book and watch parts of the movie to compare the two.
- Bring an audiobook into class and spend some time listening to a book. While reading is, of course, great for language learning, audiobooks mean you can also use books as listening exercises.
There you have it! Now you can bring your love for reading into the EFL classroom, secure in the knowledge that you are helping your students learn the language.
And if you needed any more reasons to pick up a book this National Book Lover’s Day, a recent study found that reading for just six minutes a day can reduce stress by up to 68% – and we could all use a bit of that right now!
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