By Penny Bunting, EBPP Expert Volunteer, 16 July 2014
Note from EBPP Founder: Penny, a highly skilled and experienced ESOL teacher, has just completed her very successful 3 months volunteer period, training and mentoring EBPP’s local English Teacher, Ni Nengah Merdekawati. She has introduced many creative English teaching techniques, but the ‘Books in Homes’ project has literally opened a new chapter in EBPP’s “learning by doing” philosophy, further empowering our remote hamlet children. Thank you Penny, we’ll miss you.
With the generous donation of books by individuals, organisations and the ‘Books for Bali Project’ sponsored by Ganesha Bookshop, the English Language Department at EBPP recently launched, the ‘Books in Homes’ project.
Many children in Desa Ban have never owned a book and rarely have the opportunity to read in English.The aim of ‘Books in Homes’ is to create and enhance the desire to read by introducing books into their homes. It is about inspiring a love of books in children so they become adults who inspire a love of reading.
The six schools have a small box of books (which will be rotated) and students choose a book written in English or English/Indonesian. They take the book home for the week (hopefully sharing with family members) and then exchange it the following week. The students take it in turns to review their book and either retell the story or read it to the class. Teachers also read books aloud with the students. This is a great opportunity for students to listen to and speak English and in a very short time we are seeing students’ confidence with English grow.
The students are very enthusiastic and love the books, however many of our books are picture books with little text. In the future we would like to expand our collection so that there are a range of challenging books that we can grade in to appropriate levels for each class.
While books help develop children’s imaginations and provide a great deal of pleasure, there is a further, very important reason why ESOL (English for Speakers of Other Languages) students should try to develop their reading skills. Educational researchers have found that there is a strong correlation between reading and academic success. In other words, a student who is a good reader is more likely to do well in school and pass exams than a student who is a weak reader.
Good readers can understand the individual sentences and the organizational structure of a piece of writing. They can comprehend ideas, follow arguments, and detect implications. They know most of the words in the text already, but they can also determine the meaning of many of the unfamiliar words from the context – failing this, they can use their dictionary effectively to do so. In summary, good readers can extract from the writing what is important for the particular task they are employed in. And they can do it quickly!
Educational researchers have also found a strong correlation between reading and vocabulary knowledge. In other words, students who have a large vocabulary are usually good readers. This is not very surprising, since the best way to acquire a large vocabulary is to read extensively, and if you read extensively you are likely to be or become a good reader!
If we want children to be successful at school we should encourage them to read. While reading non-fiction in English is very important, English fiction and any reading in the mother tongue – if done extensively – will help a child develop the reading competence that is essential for academic achievement.
If you are interested in helping EBPP expand its ‘Books in Homes’ project, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.