TOPIC 16. CHILDREN´S LITERATURE IN ENGLISH. DIDACTIC TECHNIQUES TO ACHIEVE ORAL COMPREHENSION, TO INITIATE AND ENCOURAGE READING HABITS TO APPRECIATE THE POETIC FUNCTION OF LANGUAGE.
The main goal to be attained in the teaching of a foreign language in primary education is the development of a certain degree of communicative competence (RD 126/14). This term refers to enabling the learner to communicate through oral and written means, using the foreign language (FL onwards) in real and meaningful contexts. Considering the language as an instrument of communication implies using it to express and exchange meanings in contextualized situations, getting the students to apply different strategies to get their meaning across; instead of learning an abstract set of grammatical rules.
Using a FL effectively requires having a number of abilities that linguistics identify as linguistic skills: listening, speaking, reading and writing. However, before students are able to produce chunks of language in the FL, receptive skills play a central role, as it happens with L1 acquisition. In other words, the natural route for learning any language goes through reception before production. For many years, receptive skills were neglected in traditional approaches, since they were considered as “passive stages”. As opposed to this idea, recent approaches based on the nature of language comprehension stress the relevance of receptive skills for effective FL learning. In this sense, teaching to understand requires implementing a series of strategies and techniques to engage students in active listening and reading.
In this topic, we shall start by focusing on the relevance of children´s literature as a way to approach meaningful listening and reading. As we know, texts are an essential component of communication; and literary texts, whether oral or written, are invaluable sources to create awareness of the poetic function of the language.
Finally, we shall concentrate on the relevance of developing reading habits amongst our students, stressing the idea that FL teachers are not very likely to succeed in this goal unless we attract our students´ interests towards the pleasure of reading and the usefulness of reading in English.