Teaching Mirror English Reader Series
(By D N Mukhiya)
Note to the Teacher:
About MIRROR English:
- MIRROR (Pre-primer to Eight) is a multi-skills course in English.
- The series has been designed especially for students from the Kindergarten to Grade 8.
- It follows an eclectic approach to reading, writing, listening and speaking skills.
- It offers a communicative methodology that focuses on both fluency and accuracy, and provides more opportunities to develop pronunciation and vocabulary abilities.
- The series has more challenging content to develop children’s higher-level thinking skills.
- The series has three course books and three workbooks for primers: 0, A and B, prepared for Nursery, LKG and UKG children.
- These primary level books provide essential alphabet recognition activities, phonics songs, rhyme songs, pictures, and essential language activities.
- From grade one to eight, the series comprises a reader, a workbook, and an additional literary reader.
Content of the series:
The content of the series draws on a variety of fiction and non-fiction genres. The fables, folk tales, stories, poems, plays, real-life incidents, as well as biographies and historical writings in this series have been carefully selected and graded under broad headings that are focused on maintaining children’s interest and providing exposure to a rich variety of language styles. Each lesson in the series is written in age-appropriate language, with easily understood pre-reading, reading and post-reading activities to allow children to complete the lessons independently and confidently. The series have meaningful illustrations that arouse the children’s imagination, and support critical thinking skills for better understanding and comprehension of the material.
The page ‘IN THIS UNIT’ at the beginning of each unit in the series will help teachers plan their lesson and map each section of the unit with clear guidelines. This page contains:
- selected illustrations from the lessons;
- a chart that describes all the language skills and functions dealt in each unit;
- the unit’s main theme that will help teachers determine the ‘big idea’ of that unit;
- the background information about the poet and the reading text.
This section will give teachers productive ideas to design their lessons in advance and helps them develop their unit vision to approach reading text with full of confidence.
Teaching Tips: Read the ‘IN THIS UNIT’ section thoroughly (the first page of each unit) and make detailed lesson plans for each lesson and each section of the unit: reading, speaking, writing, vocabulary, listening, grammar and project work. Detailed lesson plans are an important part of teaching and learning process and help students get quality instruction. Have some strategies to present the main theme of the unit so that students will get hold of the ‘big idea’ of each unit.
- Make short-term and long-term plans for your class.
- Make plans that are learner-centered.
- Set a clear objective or purpose for your planning.
- Pull students into the excitement of learning.
- Divide the class into nine groups and give one unit to each group. Ask each group to present the unit every week or every month. Help them plan, prepare and present the unit in class.
Reading is a receptive skill – through it we receive information, and reading comprehension is the ability to read text, process it, and understand its meaning. To develop students’ reading comprehension skills and prepare them for communicative reading, three reading strategies are used: pre-reading, while-reading, and post-reading.
Pre-reading: The purpose of the pre-reading section is to motivate students to want to read the assignment and to prepare them to be able to read it. Often students are not focused if they just open their textbooks and start reading. This section in this Mirror English Reader series includes pre-reading activities, and involves students emotionally with the learning activities in the lesson. This section has:
- Warm up activities with illustrations and group questions,
- Vocabulary, grammar, structures and pronunciation activities that prepare students for the text they are going to read,
- ‘Let’s predict’ section to involve students in making predictions and guesses about the reading text,
- ‘Connect’ section that works as a bridge and leads students from the pre-reading to the reading section,
- Each unit often starts with a poem or chant which also contributes as a pre-reading activity to the main lesson of
- The pre-reading section in the series focuses on the ‘KWL’ procedure: starting students’ thinking about what they know about a topic, what they want to know, and what they have learned by the end of the unit.
Why do we need pre-reading activities?
This is the first stage of reading comprehension. Why is this stage important for communicative reading? Why do we need pre-reading activities? Here are some key points:
- …to motivate and prepare students for reading.
- …to assess or activate students’ prior knowledge about the reading the text.
- …to involve students in predicating and skimming.
- …to give them the background knowledge and information of the text.
- …prepare students for likely linguistic, cultural and conceptual difficulties in text.
- …to establish a purpose for reading
- …to provide opportunities for group or collaborative work for sharing ideas.
According to Chastain (1988):
“The purpose of pre-reading activities is to motivate the students to want to read the assignment and to prepare them to be able to read it.”
According to Ringler and Weber (1984):
“Pre-reading activities provide a reader with necessary background to organize activity and to comprehend the material. These experiences involve understanding the purposes for reading and building a knowledge base necessary for dealing with the content and the structure of the material. Pre-reading activities elicit prior knowledge, build background, and focus attention.”
What activities should teachers do at the pre-reading stage?
- Let the students express and share their own experience of knowledge about the topic prior to reading.
- Let the students study the title, subtitles, maps, diagrams and illustrations, and ask them to predict content and organization or sequence of information.
- Let them make some predictions based on previewing and identifying the text structure.
- Talk to them about the genre, writing style (nature of the text) and author’s background.
- Le them skim the text for general ideas.
- Explain to them some essential vocabulary or grammatical structures that are essential for comprehending the text.
- Give them some comprehension questions to set the purpose for reading.
- Give them some words for guessing meaning from context while reading the text.
- Let them work in groups and prepare a list of things about the topic that they are sure of, and a list of lists things that they are not sure of or do not know.
- Divide the class into groups and ask each group to look for specific information needed for comprehension.
- Use cooperative learning groups: divide a long text into smaller portions that small groups can study and report back to the larger group or to other small groups.
- Help the students prepare a KWL chart.
Teaching Tips: The pre-reading section in the Mirror English Reader series has been systematically organized. This section has illustrations, group-work activities, grammar, vocabulary, pronunciation, ‘let’s predict’ section and ‘connect’ section. All these activities are meant to assess students’ prior knowledge and prepare them for reading.
Here are some important tips for dealing with the pre-reading section in Mirror English Reader series:
- Each lesson starts with some pre-reading activities; teachers may use all of them or some of them or can prepare themselves with some activities that work well with their students.
- Have some effective strategies for group work and pair work.
- Do most of the pre-reading activities in this series orally.
- Let the students make predictions on the basis of the illustrations, vocabulary and diagrams. Most of the stories of the Mirror English Reader series have the illustration in the pre-reading section for this purpose.
- Set the purpose of reading with some comprehension questions although each reading section starts with two or more purpose questions.
- Teach the students some key vocabulary and give them some vocabulary from the text and ask them to guess the meaning while reading.
- Explain to them possible cultural and conceptual difficulties the students might have while reading the text.
While-reading: At this stage, students check their comprehension as they read. This stage assists students in determining their level of comprehension by helping them visualize and clarify areas that are still confusing, and begin making connections with the content.
While reading, ask students to do the following activities:
- to look for specific information,
- to analyze the sequence of ideas in the text.
- to find main idea and how the author supports it.
- to check if their prediction matches, and, if not, how it differs.
- to guess what will happen next.
- to guess the meaning of the difficult words.
- to stop at the end of each section to review and check their predictions.
- to restate the main idea and summarize the section.
- to summarize what has been read so far.
- to answer comprehension questions as they read.
This section in the Mirror English Reader series includes reading materials (poems, stories, plays, biographies, etc.) that are relevant to students’ lives, and provides extensive practice in language skills that are the focus of each lesson. This section aims to make children independent learners and enable them to read with maximum comprehension in minimum possible time. It also helps to make them creative and imaginative as the setting of the lesson gives them ample opportunity to guess, argue, infer and say what happens next. The reading section ends with comprehension questions.
Teaching Tips: Here are some important tips for dealing with the while-reading section in Mirror English Reader series:
- Let the students read the text and underline the difficult word meanings.
- Always set a reasonable time limit for the students to read a passage or a part of a passage.
- Read aloud the passage or paraphrase it only when the students have been able to read the passage on their own.
- Let them read silently and rapidly.
- Teach them to skim the text: to read the text quickly in order to get its main idea or gist.
- Teach them to scan the text: to read the text with careful attention to find the specific information from the text.
- Let them guess the meaning of the difficult words.
- The meanings of some difficult words are already given at the bottom of the page, and some words are highlighted for guessing meaning in context.
- It’s much practical not to let the students use a dictionary to find the meaning of a difficult word as this practice doesn’t allow them to guess meaning from context.
- Let them guess the meaning of the difficult words and use some of them in their sentences.
- Teach them to pronounce some words if they have trouble with it.
- Divide the long text into small parts and ask the students some comprehension questions after each part. Also ask them to summarize the part.
- Let them make predictions and ask them: What happens next?
- For primary grades, teachers should make the students repeat after them. Be sure that the students are repeating a meaningful chunk of a sentence each time.
Post-reading: The post-reading stage is an important stage as it provides a way for students to summarize, reflect and question what they have just read. This stage is the core of reading comprehension and is a very essential component for pre-reading and while-reading stages.
At this stage of reading comprehension, teachers should ask students to:
- …to reflect on the main ideas.
- …to share their reactions on newly acquired knowledge.
- …to summarize the text.
- …to evaluate whether their purpose of reading was met.
- …to re-read the text in order to obtain more information or to confirm their predictions.
- …to make connections between what they have just learned with what they knew previously.
- …to search for more similar text.
- …to agree or disagree with some statements of the text.
- …to do project work and research activities.
- …to examine the impact of this new information on their personal lives.
How to teach a poem?
- Start with the pre-reading activities given in the book or a similar one to activate the students’ prior knowledge.
- Introduce the theme of the poem by using group-work, pair-work and have a meaning class discussion.
- Let the students look at the picture and make some predictions about the poem.
- Make them set the purpose for reading.
- Discuss some difficult vocabulary or structures or any cultural differences that students may have trouble in understanding the poem. (Make them ready to read the poem.)
- Read aloud the poem using reciting techniques (with good tone and mood) and let the students listen to the poem.
- In primary grades, let the students repeat the lines after the teacher.
- Let the students recite the poem individually or in groups.
- Let them read the poem both silently and aloud.
- Ask them to mark the rhyming scheme and other literary devices used by the poet in the poem.
- Give them some comprehension questions. Let them work out on them orally in groups.
- Le the students create a musical note to the poem or sing the poem.
- Let them read a poem with the same theme and ask students to find some similarities and differences.
- Encourage or inspire students to create a similar poem.
How to teach listening?
Listening is an important skill because it is the best way to obtain information, understand, enjoy, learn and communicate. When you listen to a conversation in English, you try to understand every word, pronunciation and context. Listening to songs and radio programmes are two of the best ways to learn the language. Since listening and speaking are, in many contexts, reciprocal skills, learning to speak well depends importantly on learning to listen well.
The listening section in the Mirror English Reader series includes short questions like naming the pictures, identifying, finding differences, completing the chart, true/false, matching, WH questions, gap filling, etc. The listening activity of each unit is based on the language functions and grammar structures dealt in that unit. Let the students listen to the CD of the Mirror English Reader series and do the activities. If the audio system is not possible, teachers should read aloud the listening text in the classroom and ask the students to do the listening exercise. The listening script of each test is given at the back of each book for teachers.
Here are some important ideas for teaching listening:
- Start with a short ‘warm-up’ activity or ‘pre-listening’ activity. Most of the listening activities in the Mirror English Reader series have pre-listening activities.
- Inform the students about the number of times they will listen to the text.
- Set some questions before the students listen to the text each time.
- Give the students to solve the questions before they listen to the text next time.
- Let the students solve the questions after they finish listening to the text.
How to teach speaking?
Speaking is often regarded as the most important of the four skills. The main reason for teaching speaking is to develop oral fluency, that is, the ability to express oneself clearly, reasonably, intelligibly, and without any hesitation.
The speaking section in the Mirror English Reader series includes questions like describing pictures, charts and diagrams; asking and answering questions; narrating; story telling; role-play; miming; giving instructions, etc. The speaking activity of each unit is based on the language functions and grammar structures dealt in that unit. The speaking activities are meant to develop the communicative efficiency in the learners.
Here are some important ideas for teaching speaking:
- Give clear instructions. Speak loudly, slowly and clearly; and demonstrate the proposed task.
- Before you ask students to speak on a particular activity, be sure they should have sufficient language structures, vocabulary, and ideas for speaking. Model language structures by saying aloud and writing the ideas and concepts you are teaching.
- Give each activity you do a name, the simplest and most accurate name that you can, and then repeat the activity, so students can learn the verbal and written cues and procedures.
- Always use conversational tone and target speech patterns.
- Vary classroom interaction modes – pair work, group work, individual to whole class.
- Use pictures, stories, songs, rhymes, books, radios, audio and video CDs, etc to encourage students for speaking fluently and accurately.
- Provide a good model for students to imitate. Repeatedly use the target speech patterns. Be sensitive, sympathetic and encouraging. Provide activities moving from easy to complex.
- Have students retell stories aloud. Record their retellings in their own words to create a language experience chart that can be used for future reading and writing lessons with this group.
- Teach choral speaking and reading (poetry may be the most accessible format with which to begin).
- Sing or read songs. Children can bring in a favorite song to perform alone or as a group, but make sure you have heard the song first and can approve it.
- Note down common and recurring errors and handle errors sensitively and effectively. Do not interrupt to correct errors while the students are speaking. Correct errors by providing sufficient examples.
- Experiment with speaking in different tenses and using different types of language structures. For example, say the same word or phrase using a tone that is happy, sad, angry, and so forth.
- Use facial expressions—a smile, frown, or quizzical look—to embed more meaning in your speech. For beginners, hold up picture cards showing expressive faces and have them act out these expressions.
- Explain by showing, not just telling. Act it out if you have to or use visual tools such as sketches and diagrams or actual objects.
- When asking questions, give choices for the answer. This will also help you check for understanding especially in the earlier stages of language acquisition. Respond to the interests of the children. Provide reading, speaking, listening, and writing activities and opportunities in which students can share their hobbies and interests.
- Encourage students to describe, summarize, define, contrast, and compare by modeling. Be sure to show and not just tell when teaching a new concept, idea, or vocabulary.
- Correct content, not grammar. To model proper grammar and syntax, restate or rephrase students’ questions or statements.
- Praise students who perform well or try hard.
Keep visiting this page for the regular updates till the teacher’s manual of the Mirror English Reader series will be published. Use the comment sections to share your suggestions and problems with us.
D N Mukhiya
Also visit: https://www.jhoona.com/teaching-english-grammar/