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Novels are a great way of learning a new language, while also opening students up to a world of literary, culture and debate. Get ready for some interesting discussions…
As an 'English for Speakers of Other Languages' (ESOL) teacher, it’s important to find different ways to engage with your class. The University of Bolton’s PGCE M 14+ English (Literacy and ESOL) course arms you with the skills to bring language to life, and there are many methods you can use.
One of these is through fictional reading, providing both learning and entertainment for students who are learning English for the first time. Through books, you can introduce them to art, history and British culture, as well as conversational language and grammatical practice.
Finding easy books to read is key however, as in order to engage, you have to make learning as accessible and beginner-friendly as possible.
Here are some of the best easy-read books for ESOL learners:
The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time (Mark Haddon)
Finding good books that match a student’s age and reading level isn’t always easy. But this book is a winner with both adults and children, and is a best-seller in both categories. Telling the story of a young boy with Asperger’s, it has a big human focus, helping the reader connect with the character.
The reason this novel is fantastic for second language English learners is because of the way it is written. Told from the point of view of an Asperger's sufferer, everything is clear, logical and very straightforward to read.
Harry Potter books (J.K. Rowling)
Another excellent read with no age limit is the Harry Potter collection. Not only are these easy books to read for beginners, but they provide valuable insight into British culture and one of the UK’s most famous literary works of art.
What’s even better is that the Harry Potter franchise has formed a huge subculture, with millions of fans around the world. This opens up many opportunities for discussion for students who are new to the UK, giving them a shared interest with native speakers or other people in their class.
Furthermore, they can gain extra practice in conversational English through watching the films, consolidating their understanding of the books and helping them get a visual explanation of plots and storylines.
Leaving Time (Jodi Picoult)
Many of Jodi Picoult’s books have a magical element that appeals to all ages, and all reading abilities. There’s also a romantic air to her stories, and this one tells the tale of a 13 year old girl who is searching for her long-lost mother.
The storyline takes her to a psychic and detective, who both help her in her quest. But in the journey to find her mother, the girl realises that asking questions can sometimes lead to answers that are better left alone.
The English in the book can be somewhat advanced for a beginner as it intricately dabbles in inner thoughts and feelings, rather than actions. However, this is a great read for students who are looking for something to challenge them.
Animal Farm (George Orwell)
It’s one of the most iconic books of all time, and one that has appeared in many school curriculums. This makes it a good choice for students who want to be able to have a healthy discussion or literary debate with peers.
This satirical allegory for Communist Russia tells the simple yet tragic story of oppressed farm animals and their bid to attain freedom. It is very much a metaphor for life as a human, as the animals dream of a society where they are equal, free, and happy.
Mirroring the totalitarian system, this novel makes history accessible to all, and also allows for some interesting reviews in the classroom. It’s one of the best easy-read books that also adds an educational element.
If you have an English degree and want to turn your qualification into a rewarding teaching career, a PGCE could be for you.
The PGCE M 14+ English (Literacy and ESOL) programme at the University of Bolton is one of the best in the UK, and we are one of the largest teacher training providers.
We rank No.2 in the UK for Teaching Quality in Education Courses*, as well as No.1 for Student Satisfaction in Education Courses in Greater Manchester and the North West.** So there’s nowhere better to begin your journey into teaching!
Find out more about enrolling in September 2021 and see our course page for details.
If you have further questions, please don’t hesitate to get in touch on +44 (0)1204 903 394 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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