Recently Japanese elementary schools have seriously begun to incorporate English education into their regular school curriculums followed by the government decision. Because of this trend, university teacher-candidates have become more interested in acquiring skills to teach English to young learners.
The presentation is about the semester courses of young learners’ English education using picture books as course textbooks. In each semester the students studied 20 or more picture books by Leo Lionni or Eric Carle. In each lesson, the students took turns to do a storytelling and mini-lecture on each book by filling in categorization chart the presenter developed. The students discussed the chart and various teaching ideas based on the story for elementary school students. In the middle of the course, each student chose one favorite picture book and created a drama script based on that book. All the scripts were brought to the affiliated elementary school, and the English teachers there read those scripts, gave each student their feedback and chose the best one.
In the latter half of the course, the students revised the script, shared the roles, made props, developed music and sounds, and designed an interactive activity followed by the drama performance. In the last lesson, the students performed the play and activity in front of the 2nd year-/3rd year-students. Both the university and elementary school students participated in the performance interactively and shared the pleasure of learning a foreign language.
Picture books have a potential for becoming effective language learning materials for both teachers and EFL learners. With the usage of stories, different themes, some repetitive phrases and attractive visual images, picture books enable language teachers to expand the lessons in more creative ways.
Miori Shimada has been teaching English to various age groups and levels for 12 years. She is currently working as a part-time lecturer at several universities around Tokyo. Her research interests include picture books, art activities and songs for EFL students.