Extensive reading with Michael Morpurgo?
Anne Hachmeister, Friday 15.30-16.00

In a group of about ten students from grades 5 to 7 we are reading Michael Morpurgo’s “Animal Tales”, a collection of three stories in which animals play a special role: “Colly’s Barn”, “Conker”, and “Jo-Jo the Melon Donkey”. The underlying goal of the project is to motivate and encourage the young EFL learners to read voluntarily. The specific question to be answered is whether Morpugo’s stories are suitable as reading material to promote this, if the chosen approach is extensive reading.

An evaluation of the students’ reading will be effected both by conversations within the group and by filling in a feedback questionnaire that covers various aspects of the material: the story and the characters, comprehensibility, pictures, and so forth. There is also some space for individual comments. As the group consists of both boys and girls, it is interesting to observe whether they read the stories differently, for instance if they identify with different characters. Their reactions may also allow conclusions about which age group the stories are most appropriate for. In accordance with the extensive reading approach, alternative reading material is offered for those who do not like any of the stories at all – in this case there is a space in the questionnaire to say how far they proceeded with their reading before they put the story away, and why they did not like it.

The project takes place as a part of the afternoon activities at an all-day school near Hanover, where the reading group meets for 45 minutes per week. The students can of course take their reading home and continue in their free time.

Anne Hachmeister is an MEd student of English and German at Hildesheim University. Anne is keenly interested in primary EFL education and researching reading and literature. She has recently reviewed the second edition of Andrew Wright’s “Storytelling with children” for the CATS magazine (1/2009).