ESL Kids Reading & Writing Tips
Classroom Mailbox. A great way to encourage writing (as well as an authentic task writing activity) is to set up a classroom mailbox. A cardboard box with a letter hole will do fine (you can even get your classes to paint/decorate it) which is easily accessible for all students. Students can write English letters and postcards to their classmates and their teacher. The teacher can also send letters to students. This is great as kids love to find letters waiting for them.
Classroom Notice Boards. This is a great way to encourage Ss to use their literacy skills. Have a notice board in the classroom and put new notices up each class. Notices can include birthday announcements, homework setting, words of praise or encouragement to individual Ss, your thoughts on different issues (e.g. a new pop song or movie), lost & found items, up and coming events and so on. Also, encourage your Ss to reply to your notices and add their own notices.
Letter Writing Practice. When teaching alphabet letters there are dozens of quick activities you can do to reinforce learning letter shapes. For example, for the letter 's' Ss can find and cut them out of magazines, they can paint, color in, join dots, use modeling clay, form the shape with their hands/body, draw the shape in a tray of sand, use glue to draw the shape and then sprinkle sand over it. Using all their senses helps children learn and remember.
Name Tag Reading/Writing. A quick an easy activity to do at the start of each lesson. For under 4s: make name tags in different colors for each S and have them try and pick out their name tags (they'll soon be able to choose the correct tag). For 5s and over: for the firs 10 or so lessons give Ss name tags (that stick to their shirts) with their names written on in light pencil for them to trace over. Next move on to having the Ss copy their names each class. Finally, Ss will be able to write their names on their tags without any help.
Parent Guided Reading. Research (Cameron & Bava Harji, 2000) has shown that encouraging parents to read English books with their children can result in "enormous progress in literacy and oral language skills" being made. Importantly, children should be allowed to choose the books they want to hear and read. For more details see "Teaching Languages to Young Learners" by Lynne Cameron (2001, CUP).
Reading Website. www.starfall.com is a great site for teaching kids to learn to read. It has 15 online interactive books with sound, such as "Zac the Rat" and "My Family". All the stories come with an educational game and some also have a movie to watch. As the site explains: "This program was created to meet the needs of the emergent reader by incorporating rhyming games and high-interest books that teach phonemic awareness (sounds in words), phonics, decoding skills, and comprehension. The program is designed to instill confidence and enable the child to proceed as quickly as possible to a balanced reading program".