A French girl, let’s call her Ana, seven years old, doesn’t speak much English, a useful language to know despite living in Pondicherry, French India. Her parents want her to increase her English language skills, so they send her to Magic Stars, an education faculty to get extra help. Shilpa, the director, loves BookBox, so we come by to test our activities and stories on the children.
Ana can read English, but doesn’t understand what she is reading, so we created an exercise to help her break down the story for full comprehension. She can grasp a little bit when listening to the English language. For her to understand the activity, we had Ananya, a BookBox employee, speak to Ana in French.
Breaking down Ana’s English skills:
Speaking: Little to none
Reading Comprehension: No
Oral/Listening Comprehension: Little
We picked Bunty and Bubbly in English (UK), a Little BookBoxer’s AniBook typically for children 2-4, but with Ana’s low level, we thought this would be best.
Bunty and Bubbly is an adorable story about Bunty, a girl who loves to play in the dirt and hates cleaning up afterward. After being yelled at by her mother, Bunty has a dream in which germs attack her and her castle, and Soap King comes to the rescue. From the morning after, Bunty makes sure she cleans herself fully. It’s a sweet story to inspire your children to stay clean and hygienic, but that’s for another blog post.
First, we played the story once for her.
Second, to assess her comprehension, we made laminated cards with each scene in the story and had Ana order them. There were about 15 cards and only misplaced two cards – she did well! Her success could be for two reasons, one, she remembers the images in the scenes – visual comprehension. Two, she understood the English. If she performed well because of both reasons, that is best, because then she was using multiple sensories in her brain (auditory and visual for reading the words the images).
Onto the next challenge, we tried to have her read the story in English, but she struggled so we didn’t push her. Instead, we had her describe the story to us (in French). She fully understood the story! Using the Same Language Subtitles and with more repetition, she could connect the narrated words with SLS to bring meaning to the words, improving her English literacy level.
You could make the story more dynamic by asking the children to act out different washing actions. Pretend to brush your teeth, wash your hair or hands, etc.
Reading is only one aspect of literacy, but children must also understand the words that make up the sentences. Without comprehension, words and sentences are merely a compilation of shapes we call letters. That’s why Same Language Subtitles are so important when watching these AniBooks. Children, or adults, can see, listen and use the images to piece together the words and language.
How would you use Bunty and Bubbly in your classroom? Tell us in the comments!
Tamar Gaffin-Cahn, at the time this post was written, was BookBox’s Outreach and Social Media Coordinator. You can find her at firstname.lastname@example.org, on Twitter at @tamargc, going on outdoor adventures or eating delicious vegetarian Indian food.