When I was attending university, working towards my degree in Spanish and Italian, I had to read a lot of books. Stories such as Don Quixote by Cervantes and Como Agua Para Chocolate by Laura Esquivel, filled my head with new phrases, exquisite vocabulary and a strong sense for Latin culture. What I did not realize while I was reading – and writing! Oh, the multitude of essays that I had to write! – was that my speaking was going to improve as well.
Being an avid reader in Spanish contributed greatly to me becoming an excellent speaker of Spanish. Of course I owe my fluency to more than just reading books – like listening to music, studying devotedly (Flash Cards!), and making living abroad a priority in my life – ALL of these aspects aided in my proficiency.
With that said, as a Teacher of English, and Speaker of foreign languages, I am convinced that language is something that has to be approached from all angles in order to be mastered. For this reason, I really enjoy using different literary works in my classes – books and stories – to better convey common concepts in language as well as present grammar and vocabulary in a fun and intelligent way.
However, the most important and helpful part about learning English through Literature is that it allows the student to think critically about different concepts present in our daily lives and in the global community. Instead of just reading an article, discussing it, and then moving on – we are able to really dive deeply into a topic and explore it fully, together.
Some of the books and series that I use in my classes are:
- Harry Potter Series by J. K. Rowling
- Enders Game and Speaker for the Dead by Orson Scott Card
- A Series of Unfortunate Events by Lemony Snicket
- The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho
- Willie Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, The Witches, and many other works by Roald Dahl
- Poetry by Shel Silverstein and other American poets.
- And many, many others. Have a book you are interested in? Let’s talk about it!
The students who can enjoy these types of classes can be beginners or advanced. I am able to specially customize the literature curriculum to match the students’ proficiency in most cases. The students enjoy reading the book, listening to the audio version and then discussing it with me during class. This gives them the chance to be certain that they have understood key elements to the story. Additionally, in many cases my students will write compositions to practice their writing skills while using the grammar, vocabulary and new ideas they learned from the book.
I have young and more mature students (Ages 10 to 55) who enjoy these classes with me. Here is what a few of them have said:
“My English skills have developed and improved a great deal. Thanks to my wonderful teacher, Ms. Tara! I find her classes very fun and interactive. Ms. Tara has enriched my knowledge and vocabulary through fun puzzles like word searches and crosswords. She gives emphasis to my weak areas such as grammar. She gives me appropriate homework which challenge my writing skills and vocabulary. Additionally, I have learnt a lot of fun facts about American English, such as the spellings, idioms and phrases they use. The books we read, like Harry Potter, are fun and they improve my vocabulary, grammar and comprehension skills. She is very talented, and in addition to English she can speak many other languages including Spanish and Italian. She has a great sense of humor and I am very fond of her.”
– Ramya (10 years old, Saudi Arabia)
“I am learning English with my teacher Tara via reading books. Recently we finished Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl. I liked that experience. Every class we were reading one chapter, discussed it and answered questions about content. It was an interesting book for me and I didn’t lose interest in lessons because I desired to know what would happen next. Simultaneously I had opportunity to remember new words. It is one of the several main advantages of studying English while reading a book, you see and meet unknown words not once. Time after time they appear again and you can remember them much better than if you take a look at them only once. I like studying English via reading books and will keep doing it.”
– Alexander (27 years old, Cyprus)
For more information about English through Literature, Online English Classes, or on how you can teach online too, please contact me via email or on Facebook! Take care!