Dr. Beniko Mason tells her students to “just enjoy the story” to provide low-affective-filter, low-accountability comprehensible input. Most students won’t need convincing to “just enjoy stories” and books. But how do you convince that rare skeptic teen, or the studious, over-achiever to keep an open mind when they hear their first story? How do you convince students accustomed to a textbook to simply read for pleasure?
The answer is to empower them with what they crave: knowledge.
- Inform students about the SLA process. Beniko Mason has created this great resource explaining SLA for parents, but you can explain the same ideas to students too.
- Use books and stories that give students special world knowledge. Hansel and Gretel, Little Red Riding Hood, etc. are just as engaging for adults as for the very young. These stories never lose their charm. But stories like Prometheus Brings Man Fire or Pandora’s Box (especially if told as a series) may catch the attention of those students who are reluctant to enjoy less “academic” stories. Similarly, students who turn their nose up at Diary of a Wimpy Kid may enjoy high-interest nonfiction or historical fiction. My favorite are Nathan Hale’s Hazardous Tales or the I Survived series.
- Offer feedback on their growth. Periodically show students the assessments you have done and how you are monitoring their progress. This kind of student may want to know how many words per minute they are reading.
- Give in a little. If “practicing language” really makes them feel better, let them. Dr. Beniko Mason suggests allowing students to take notes in class if they want; or send home a prompter or word list with them to “practice” on their own time.