Students in P2 performing ‘Crabs on a Rock‘ in a Readers’ Theatre fashion.
One of the best ways to engage ESL students and teach them to read with comprehension, expression and fluency is through Reader’s Theatre.
Reader’s theatre is a strategy that combines reading practice and performing. Reader’s Theatre gives children a real reason to read aloud, it’s fun!
As you will notice from my videos, it does not require extensive preparation, fancy costumes, props, sets, or memorisation.
This reading style allows children to act out a story as many times so they come to understand all of its nuances. Also, it enables them to get past a superficial literal level.
With Reader’s Theatre, they’re not only reading and fully understanding a story, but most importantly, they’re living it.
Readers Theatre: Giving Children a Reason to Read Aloud
Learning a second language is challenging enough. Aspiring to the level where you are able to appreciate the subtleties and nuances of expression, volume and fluency is truly the art of reading aloud. Although an unrealistic goal for students who spend very little daily time with English, I think there are simple ways to move children closer to this ability, and in an enjoyable way.
Readers Theatre allows me to hear groups of students read the Big Books in character while the other students are guided in what to listen for, offer helpful advice and, basically, learn to be an audience; to appreciate a good story and how everyone interprets it differently in their presentation.
The students enjoy seeing themselves online (video – YouTube) and share their reading with parents and friends. This keeps parents ‘in the loop’ on many levels of my programme, reading skills, drama, stage presence, and overall confidence.
We’re currently working on:
- reading longer phrases
- trying to add expression to the author’s language
- trying to read fluidly and in a natural voice
- reading at a suitable speed without unnecessary pauses
- trying to look at the audience, at times
Here are some videos posted on my YouTube page showing the great work the students did with presenting The Mean Giant with puppets, recently.
The Mean Giant
Author : Jill McDougall
We are working on reading the script with fluency and expressiveness. As students become more confident, their language skills improve impressively.