Day 3 (Term 3) extra: Owl Hall

Sunday 23rd April was Sant Jordi's day here in Catalonia. It's long been a tradition to give books and roses as presents, and this tradition is the origin of World Book Day, which marks the death date of both Miguel de Cervantes and William Shakespeare in 1616. 

To celebrate this, I started using the reader Owl Hall in class with my students. It was written by my Beyond co-author Robert Campbell and is based on an original idea by Robert and Lindsay Clanfield.

So why get students to all read something? The more I talk to students whose English is particularly good, the clearer it becomes that their 'secret' is either that they watch TV or read in English regularly. It's why we work on episodes from series in class: to try and encourage them to select the original version of the soundtrack when they watch at home, at least some of the time, or perhaps after watching the episode first in their own language. And its why I've brought Owl Hall to class. When I'm correcting written work, it's not the misuse of verb tenses that stands out as a problem, it's wrong lexical choices and the wrong word order within sentences. I'm hoping reading will help fix both.

My feeling is that the project got off to a good start. I set the scene by getting them to speculate about the story from its cover and pictures of the protagonists. This was generative because students didn't agree with each other, and that meant they were interested to read and find out who was right.

They then listened to and read the first chapter, and it was really satisfying to see them quietly absorbed in the activity, and to hear a resounding 'yes' when I asked if they wanted to continue reading the story. Their homework is to read Chapter 2 at home and to think about some questions I've posted on the class Edmodo page. The aim is to get them reading for pleasure, but I hope that having concrete things to think about and discuss in the next class will provide some extra motivation, particularly for those students who don't like reading.

If you'd like to know more about Owl Hall, you can visit the Owl Hall website. You will also find a lot of free activities to use with the first chapter of Owl Hall at the OneStopEnglish website. The audio recording of Chapter 1 is available at OneStopEnglish too.