Beautifully illustrated multi-language children books are at the core of the workshop on EuroLib, the European Children’s Travelling Language Library.
The books, and the activities created around the books, target children that have recently started to learn a foreign language to:
- Exposure them to the rich heritage of European languages and cultures
- Be motivated to learn languages
- Build a love of reading as the best form of autonomous lifelong learning
- Reinforce emerging literacy
The original “EuroLib” workshops were based on 36 children’s books in six different languages that would travel from school to school visiting children that were ready to perform activities around the visit of the library: before its arrival, during its stay and after the departure of the library.
The workshop that is suggested here has a slightly new formula and is conceived for those who will want to have this familiar but at the same time innovative educational experience based on resources that need to be gathered before the workshop.
The children’s books and the tasks that the students will complete based on the books will include inter-comprehension, comprehension, creative expression, criticism, reflection, task-based learning, collaboration and using languages within a social context.
Time frame: suggested time would be four different sessions of one hour each.
Session 1 would include STEP 1, 2, 3
Session 2 would include STEP 4, 5
Session 3 would include STEP 6
Session 4 would include STEP 7, 8
However, sessions can be increased by using your own creativity and inspiration and extra didactic materials available on www.eulib.eu
The learning path originated from the Comenius project called “The European Children’s Travelling Language Library” www.eulib.eu .
- To get ready with the needed materials: beautifully illustrated children’s books with catching images and containing short stories. The books need to be at least in four different European languages.
- To get ready with the extra materials required to perform the activities.
If there is some available budget to buy the books, these can be easily bought through the internet. Otherwise, you may try to book the Library at http://www.eulib.eu/booking_the_library.html or alternatively you may find available books on internet as free resources and show them on screen or download some pages.
You can find a suggest list of books in six languages here: http://www.eulib.eu/english_books_.html
- Getting the children familiar with the books they are going to play with
- Getting children aware of the counties the book are coming from
Use the books you have selected and place them all on the desk. Ask the students to come to the desk and take the books, turn over their pages, review them…
Then, show the countries where the books come from by using a Europe map and ask children what they know about those countries.
Ask children to guess the language of the books, which is from which country each book comes from.
- To explore cultural aspects in the illustrations of a book
Let the children (in pairs or in groups) choose from the Library one or two books. Explain that they need to go through the books and look at the illustrations carefully. They need to guess what the book is about. You can circulate to give help if needed and to encourage the early finishers to look again at the illustrations or bring them another book. At the end of the activity the teacher asks the students for their interpretations. As an extension, you may ask the children to identify any illustration that reflects a cultural aspect. You can ask questions to enrich this discussion. For example, how can they tell that the book is Finnish? How is it possible to guess?
(You may want to know the real story in the book, therefore you might want to use Google Translate. However, it is not necessary to know the real story to perform the activity).
- To recognise individual characters, that are representative of different cultures and/or countries, in the books
Pictures of different characters from the books are required.
This activity can be done as a little competition. Children work in groups
for this activity. Teachers should make photocopies of the characters from the books. Start the activity by showing pictures with the characters
and ask the students which country do they come from. Children may ask yes/no questions if it is difficult for them to guess. For each correct guess award one point. The
winner is the group with more points.
- Bringing the characters in the books to life
For this activity you will require sheets of paper, colouring pens or markers.
Start the activity by giving each group a sheet of paper and colouring pens or markers. Tell the groups to go through the books and select characters from about 3 books. They then draw, colour and write their own cartoon using the selected characters. Then display the cartoons on the wall of the classroom.
- To introduce the target language(s) – the activity is designed to introduce a word with the possibility that the word will resonate later in the children’s life.
A preparation by the teacher/trainer is required for this step:
– go through the text of your books and choose some words that you see repeated several times in each book.
– with the help of internet, translate the words into your own language and keep them written on a piece of paper that you will have at hand.
– again with the help of internet try to find the pronunciation of the words and keep them in an audiofile.
Ask the children to go through one book and identify words which are repeated several time within the text.
Ask children to guess what those words may mean. After each child has expressed his idea about it, tell the students the real meaning of word.
If you managed to find the pronunciation of the word, then let the children listen to the word pronounced by a native speaker. Otherwise the exercise will just be based on the written word.
Ask children if the words look very different from words of their own language or maybe they look similar.
Let students notice any graphic sign that is different from the signs of their language.
You may prolong the practice by asking students to represent the meaning of the word by drawing it in pencil.
- To create a drama, based on the illustrations in the books
The children create their own drama based on the illustrations in a book they select. Divide the class into groups and let the children choose the book they want to work with. Explain that they have to write their own short play on the story or part of the story, they will use the book’s illustrations and the characters as the basis. They can then act out their story. Allow about 15 minutes for this. Get them to read their plays through a few times so that they are more confident, if not by heart. Now they perform their scenes in front of the class.
- To be aware of sounds of different languages
Audio files with children’s songs of the target language need to be researched by the teacher / trainer in preparation of the activity. The songs can be easily found on internet.
Ask students to identify the characters of the books and then ask them to imagine how would their language sound.
The, let them listen to the children’s songs in each language. Ask children to recognize the language of the songs.
Then ask children to try to imitate the way a specific language sounds.
Let them play with the sounds and have fun, but teach them to respect the sound features and patterns of each language.
- To increase awareness of the fact that culture plays a role in how people define and create their homes or cities; to see how different culture organise their homes or cities
Pictures of houses, landscapes and city streets of each country that books represent are required. You can find these on internet and create a file to be shown on the PC screen or you may want to print them.
Prepare photocopies of the cities, houses and rooms that are illustrated in the books and add photos of real houses, landscapes and streets that you have researched and gathered.
Ask students to find any differences or similarities between the home or the city of the target cultures and their own cities, houses and/or rooms. Allow time for students to reflect upon the differences and similarities in subgroups. Then, for a whole class feedback, ask each group to tell you what similarities and differences they have found.