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Text Types Students Can Work With In Primary Education

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Regarding the most appropriate texts students can work with in primary education, the suggested text types are mainly:

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  • Narrative text is defined as a type of discourse that is used to describe a sequence of non-fictional or fictional events within a framework of time. In narrative texts we can distinguish the following elements; the setting, where the story takes place; characters, the plot that is a series of events usually revolving around a conflict, and the resolution, where the conflict is solved. Narrative texts are the most used in primary education. Children like stories and know their conventions. This type of text is familiar to the child and it is an entertaining means of providing language input to the students in a way they are used to.
  • Fairytales: as the students progress, we can introduce fairy tales. A fairytale is defined as a narrative poem in prose which comes originally from the folklore and oral tradition. Its main characters are normally heroes or heroine, a prince, princess who experiences adventures of a more or less supernatural kind. The magic elements are a basic ingredient in this kind of stories, like charms, spellings, and transformations. Fairy tales are well known by the students since they have probably seen the films or have been told the stories. Ex. are Cinderella, The Beauty and the Beast, Red Riding Hood.
  • Fables The fables are brief literary compositions in which the characters are almost always animals or objects, which have human characteristics such as speech, movement, etc. and that illustrates a moral lesson. The fable is one of the most enduring forms of folk literature, spread abroad and along the centuries by oral transmission, in fact, fables can be found in the literature of almost every country. The earliest corpus of fables was the Aesop’s Fables, which are dated around the year 550 BCE and includes most of the best-known western fables. Later on, during the 17th century, the French fabulist Jean de La Fontaine made a compilation based on the Aesop’s one and used the fable as a means of teaching morals and rules of behavior. Some examples of fables are “The Ant and the Grasshopper”, “The Tortoise and the Hare” or “The Fox and the Grapes”.
  • Graded readers: As students increase their level of the foreign language, they can read graded readers. Books specially written at different levels for learners at different stages. These are literary material can be comics, fiction, novels, modern narrative in general, etc. or adaptations of well-known books specially adapted and created for learners of English. Graded readers usually contain glossaries and activities to do before, while and after reading, as well as a CD with audio or interactive material to use in the computer that make them very practical for individual work at home.

Developing didactic units from stories.

Stories, songs, rhymes play an essential role in our didactic units. Our objective is to develop receptive and productive skills. Oral or written production may revolve around the story song or rhyme we may be using. Listening comprehension and reading comprehension are essential items. These activities must be graded according to the levels defined in the contents for each course. All skills are taught jointly, but in the first years oral language predominates. Listening and reading comprehension are introduced in a more purposeful way around mid-stage and written production gains relevance in the final years.

Ellis and Brewster (2014) set up three steps for creating your own story-based syllabus:

  1. First, you have to select the storybooks.
  2. Then, you should decide in which order you will use them.
  3. Last, you make a selection of pre-, while- and post-storytelling activities.

They also established some points we have to take into account for selecting storybooks in order to be included in our syllabus:

  • Content: topics, themes and values.
  • Genre and literary devices.
  • Language – vocabulary and functions/structures.
  • Illustrative style and layout.
  • Setting (urban/rural, stories from different cultures/ seasons/places).

Apart from choosing texts, activities also need to be taken into account, planned and designed in advance. These can be divided into three main types:

  1. First, in the pre-reading stage we carry out activities aimed at creating expectations and interest in the students and at facilitating comprehension. This means introducing the text in a motivating way, setting a context, showing pictures and headlines, brainstorming words and ideas, speculating, etc. and pre-teaching any vocabulary or expressions necessary for its understanding.
  2. Then, the while-reading stage objective is to develop the different reading subskills. Activities should be straightforward and focus on reading only and do not demand the students to use other skills as for instance writing. Therefore, students are asked to put pictures in order, match, tick boxes, etc.
  3. Finally, the post-reading stage is the strengthening stage. Activities may focus on more detail information by answering true or false and wh- questions, filling charts, etc. and can link to other skills like speaking, as students can act out the story, and writing, they can continue the text, create a similar one, make a summary, etc.

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