I have a foreign student who's struggling with his English. I was wondering if there's a course plan for reading that would significantly develop his reading skills. I've already included Aesop's fables on the list of assignments, but am having a hardtime finding some materials in between the fables and lengthier novels such as "To Kill a Mockingbird."
Any suggestions/uploads/books will be much appreciated.
*note that his current level of reading is around elementary 3~4th grade level.
You have to start with where he's at and slowly build up his vocabulary and skill level.The general rule of thumb is that if there are more than 5 words per page that the student doesn't know, it is too hard for his or her reading level.
I would make friends with your school librarian and start him on some rigorous independant novel studies, making sure that he builds his vocabulary as he reads and that he progresses steadily from books at his current reading level to where he should be. At the level he is actually at, he should be able to read 1-2 books per day, as they are short. Unless he has literacy issues in his first language, he will progress quickly given the right conditions, as he will be frustrated if he can't find the words in English to express his thoughts.
The other rule of thumb here is if his vocabulary in his first language is high, he will naturally strive towards gaining a high vocabulary in his second language.
A good librarian will be able to match his reading level and interest level, and will be able to suggest books at different levels that will help him progress. If you don't have books at his reading level at your school, take a trip to the local library and make that reading list part of his core studies.
Some suggestions off the top of my head:
Terry Jones (from Monty Python) has written a couple of high interest and fun children's books--Nicobobinus and Fantastic Tales are a couple of them. Salmon Rushdie also has a great book out, Haroun and the Sea of Stories.
Congrats in your efforts to help this student! Recent research definitely shows that Extensive Reading is the best tool to absorb and acquire the target language. Therefore, get a list of books such as the ones I will suggest, and have the student select ONE that he or she can master and find interesting, so that you can use that reader as your tracking device to suggest others.
Books that I have read (together with) my ESL kids included:
Gift of the Magi and other O.Henry short stories
The Cask of Amontillado *You will be surprised how much they get into Poe once they get the first story down*
Oscar Wilde Dramas (they LOVE the role playing, since it puts the words in their mouth and they are bound to use them in the future and remember them better)
Remember, you will have to be there with the student at first and take turns reading. You also have to integrate the context of the story, and the kind of language they are to read (whether its British, Old English, Modern). Also, you might want to do a history mini-lesson. Its all a lot of fun and the products are so much more visible than teaching regular students (me thinks) because you can see how much harder they have to work to achieve.
GOOD LUCK! (Enclosed are a bunch of TESL links)
(Can you tell Im a TESL instructor)