EAL: The power of story

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By Halina BoniszewskaEAL teacher

Explore how reading stories aloud can benefit new English speakers.

Story time

Problem: I have always been keen on reading stories aloud in class, as I believe that this brings many benefits to the children. I would like to continue doing this, but I have just taken up a post in a school with quite a high proportion of EAL children, a number of whom are new arrivals. I don’t want to read anything that would be inaccessible to EAL children, especially new arrivals, but at the same time I don’t want to patronize the non-EAL children. I wondered whether you had any suggestions as to what type of stories might be suitable for my Y3/4 class.

Answer: Although you do not mention what they are, you are absolutely right to say that there are many benefits to children from being read to in class, chief amongst these is the opportunity to escape into a parallel universe where, for a few minutes, they can take time out to think and dream and imagine. For some children, story time may be the only stress-free time in their day. Being read to is good for children’s mental health and good for their education: a relaxed brain, just like a relaxed body, is highly-flexible and fast-moving. When our brain relaxes, it becomes versatile and creative and more able to make new connections.

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