Since September 2020, Jan Amos Komenský Primary School in Sered in partnership with three universities with an international reputation in Slovakia, the Czech Republic, and Poland, primary schools in the Czech Republic, Poland, and a renowned publishing house in Slovakia have started the implementation of the international project LIRE (Language Interpretation through REading).
The project aims to combine different methods to strengthen the professional teaching profile to help change foreign language teaching through extended reading to an exciting adventure for students.
The LIRE Toolkit for Teachers
The university partners have finished the first draft of a theoretical and practical part of the LIRE Toolkit for Teachers. This toolkit should serve as ready-to-use methodological materials bring literature and teach a foreign language via literary texts in a modern and appealing way. The theoretical part presents in three chapters, divided into several topical sub-chapters, issues connected with the importance of reading in TEFL, incorporation of reading into the curriculum and motivation, and implementation of extensive reading programmes: goals, tools and techniques.
Moreover, the first draft of a practical part for twelve graded readers, namely A1 level: In Search of Missing Friend, Sophie´s Dream, Granny Fixit and The Pirate, Pollyanna, Anne of Green Gables, PB3 and Coco the Clown, and A2 level: Egghead, The Jungle Book, Treasury Island, Harry and the Egyptian Tomb, Harry and the Electrical Problem, and Enjoy New York consisting of several lesson plans, a bank of extra activities and ready-to-use handouts was designed by the universities. The elementary schools have been piloting the practical part since September.
Based on the comments provided by the elementary teachers on the theoretical part, Internal Evaluation of Theoretical Part of LIRE Toolkit for Teachers, the university project partners are now revising the theoretical chapters. They will reflect and incorporate the valuable suggestions and commentaries and finalise the theoretical part by December 2021.
Transnational meeting in Bratislava (M2)
M2 transnational meeting took place in Bratislava, Slovakia, on September 9 and September 10, 2021. The representatives of all project partners were present. The primary purpose was to review the progress of the LIRE Toolkit for Teachers (O1), plan the piloting of the practical part, and discuss the content of the Practical Workshop for Teacher Training Providers (O2). The participants discussed the details about all outcomes ready so far.
Firstly, the theoretical part of O1 was already piloted and evaluated by the elementary schools; secondly, the practical aspects connected to selected graded readers and finally, the already prepared pilot version of graded reader Anna of Green Gables. It was acknowledged that the detailed structure of graded readers would be slightly different based on the needs of each national educational context, and it would provide space for the development of teachers’ autonomy. It was agreed on having pupils’ feedback after piloting the practical part. Thus, the university partners have prepared a short and straightforward questionnaire for pupils.
The O2 intellectual output, its structure, format, profile of potential end-user, objectives, evaluation of trainees, training materials, validation of O2, length of sessions were presented, too. The partners discussed the preliminary content of the Practical Workshop for Teacher Training Providers. The partners negotiated that O2 would be for novice teachers and teachers in general who want to enhance their knowledge and competencies about reading (extensive/intensive) and want to broaden their horizons in English teaching.
The first version of the LIRE Practical Workshop for teacher training providers
Work is underway to develop the LIRE practical workshop for teacher training providers. The workshop will be an online interactive course, allowing for active involvement and experiential learning in extensive reading.
The content of the workshop has been divided into three main components. The first component, developed by the Adam Mickiewicz University team, introduces the fundamental notions: extensive reading, its benefits and limitations, and general recommendations for setting up comprehensive reading programmes. Research evidence will be drawn upon to justify the points being made. The second part, which language teaching specialists will deliver from Masaryk University, covers the essential elements that organizing any extensive reading programme involves: selecting materials, the setting up of a classroom library, the reading strategies to be applied in the classroom, monitoring and assessment. The third module, being designed by researchers from the University of Prešov, focuses on combining extensive reading with developing language skills and subsystems. They will also focus on ways in which extensive reading can support CLIL, and the development of reading strategies by learners with special educational needs. Each of the course sections will be followed by various questions through which the mastery of the studied material can be tested.
The LIRE Toolkit for Teachers, practical part piloting
One of the elementary schools, at Slovak elementary school Jan Amos Komenský in Sereď, has shared their experience and results of piloting the practical part of the LIRE Toolkit for Teachers. The number of participants at Slovak elementary school is 102, including 60 younger pupils and 37 older ones, and five teachers.
Younger pupils (5th graders) work with the graded readers Anne of Green Gables and PB3 and Coco the Clown. Older ones read the graded readers Harry and an Electrical Problem (6th graders) and Enjoy New York (8th graders). Most pupils find working with books motivating, interesting, and restful compared to traditional English lessons. They enjoy silent reading on their own. They like the opportunity to choose a place where they can immerse themselves in reading. Then they can take reading as a leisure activity and selecting a place motivates them more.
When dealing with a classroom dynamic, most pupils prefer group work or pair work when working on tasks in worksheets. Talking about global skills development, the pupils like sharing their opinion about the main characters/main idea or express their feelings about the books. The older puils are good at comprehension activities and can complete them in time with good results. The elementary school teachers from J.A. Komenský school think that the lesson plans are well organised, and activities are suitable for pupils at that age.
In September 2021, the teachers from Czech Primary School Tišnov, Smíškova began to implement reading workshops in English classes according to the Toolkit for Teachers made by representatives of the Faculty of Education, Masaryk University. They have been working with pupils in grades 4, 7 and 9. There are five teachers and 79 pupils in total involved in the project. Pupils have been reading the following graded readers: Sophie’s Dream, Granny Fixit, In search of a missing friend, and Egghead.
The pupils enjoyed reading and a new way of learning English, leaving their textbooks behind for a while. The teachers include DEAR time in English lessons when there are app. 15 minutes determined for silent reading. Moreover, the teachers read as well, serving as role models. Besides that, the teachers have also been preparing a plan for building a school library.
Polish Primary school Społeczna Dwójka from Poznań started piloting with 51 pupils and 5 teachers at the beginning of September. They are all in Grade 7 but working in 5 different groups on different levels. Polish primary choice of books was Pollyanna, Harry and the Egyptian Tomb, The Jungle Book and Treasure Island. All the teachers enjoyed working with the chosen graded readers. The pupils at lower levels enjoyed reading a lot and teachers hope they will keep on reading even after the project. The graded readers provided the pupils at higher levels a nice and interesting form of improving reading and speaking skills. The teachers are looking forward to all the questionnaires to come back to see the result of the lessons.
The conference about languages and LIRE
The University of Prešov, Faculty of Arts representatives presented the project and its outcomes during the conference Súčasné výzvy vo vyučovaní jazykov: Ako ďalej? held in Trnava, 5-7 October 2021 (see https://www.slovakedu.com/conferences/conferences-2021/vyzvy-2021/vyzvy2021-program).
The conference hosted teachers of kindergartens, primary and secondary schools, language schools and centres, school managers, authors and publishers of textbooks, and other professionals involved in language education. As the aim of the conference as to create a platform for the exchange of ideas, experiences, examples of good practice, but also critical remarks on current developments in the field of mother-tongue teaching and foreign language education in Slovakia and abroad. The representatives of IAA believe that it was an excellent opportunity to present the project.
What about next activities
The upcoming period will be full of activities:
- end of 11/2021 feedback from piloting the practical part the LIRE Toolkit for Teachers (O1)
- 12/2021 development of 1st version of O2
- from 12/2021 development of the final version of the LIRE Toolkit for Teachers (O1)
- from 01/2022 piloting the O2 and training of the university colleagues and pre-graduates (teacher training program), teachers via in-service methodological centres,and the teacher from partners´ elementary schools
- 03/2022 joint staff meeting in Poznaň (Poland)
Curious about progress and news?
More information about the project LIRE and what is currently happening is available on our official webpage and on our Facebook profile: