During my practicum, I have had the opportunity to observe several classes of different levels doing various activities. Moreover, in my personal experience as a student; I took over 10 English courses during my studies and I am not done with it (Future English Teacher oblige!) However, even after all those years, I was wondering “How can we make literature fun to the students?”
Surfing the net in quest of an answer, I ended up finding a number of tools that will certainly make the life of English Literature Teacher easier. (And of course that will make learning situations more interesting for students.)
The first we site I found was a Website from BBC (the TV channel). The actual web page is called Bitesize KS2. It does not only contain cool stuff for English teachers but also for math and science teachers. What I found particularly interesting about this web page is that there are a number of activities for beginners and intermediate students. It is possible to find activities and exercises to practice reading, writing as well as spelling and grammar. In the reading section, there is information about poetry such as information about what narrative poems are, the patterns found in poems and figures of style. I found particularly interesting that there was a little video/game in which students can review the basics of poetry and test their knowledge at the same time ! It is simple, interactive and fun. Students will like it ! Ps. It is possible to add subtitles if students have problems understanding what is said.
Lit2Go website is also very nice ! It is a bank of literary texts, stories and MP3 audio files. It is interesting to note that the all passages come with a word count, citations, playing time as well a reading strategies. PDF versions of the passages can also be downloaded for further reading and review. From the website, students can access to information about some of the major authors in English literature and from an author’s page it is possible to access work pieces of the author. (e.g. William Blake). Passages are also classified by genre and collections which makes it easy to search for particular texts. I thought it was a great website because of the amount of work available on it. Students will be able to work and analyze texts and poems from home or from school without having to bother about carrying a book. Also, the MP3 audio files available is useful because it allows students to practice their reading and listening skills as well as their vocabulary and pronunciation (they will learn new words and hear them in context).
My StoryMaker is another fun website I also found. It is an tool with which your students will be able to create their own stories and cartoons. This kind of activity would be a good writing practice for students particularly for beginner and intermediate learners of English. I tried it myself and at first it seemed a little complicated, however, I discovered that it is possible to access a tutorial while creating your story. It is very important for tools like that to provide tutorials because the task can get very challenging. Fortunately, the tutorial for creating a story in My StoryMaker are simple, efficient and clear. Choose a character, a goal and another character and let your imagination do the rest. It is also interesting to mention that there is no need for subscription to make a story.
I found another version of this tool that has more features and that could be used for intermediate and advanced learners. Unfortunately, PlayTown: My StoryMaker is an application and can not be used on a computer. However, as discussed in my last post many schools are now equipped with iPads, therefore activities and story creation is still possible!
Of course there are many more websites available for English Literature teaching, surf the web and found out the one you prefer and that best fits your interest, your students interests and their language level. Go outside the textbook and have fun !!