written by: Khaye Mydette Sy Cardenas Macalinao
• edited by: Linda M. Rhinehart Neas
• updated: 9/20/2012
When good readers read, they imagine the text in their minds. Have your ESL kids envision the characters in stories by modeling great reading techniques! Download printable characterization stationery and other graphic organizers here.
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The Value of Reading and Understanding Characters
We all know the importance of good reading comprehension in language learning for ESL kids. When ESL learners begin to understand the text they read, they develop several language skills and are exposed to a bigger range of learning materials. One great way to develop their reading comprehension is to make them appreciate the characters in stories we give them. This can be done by providing them several oral and written drills to get to know the characters.
When students understand the characters in a story, they begin to see the text through the eyes of the characters which allows them to step into the characters' shoes. This builds a stronger comprehension of the text, making them connect with the characters. But how is this done?
ESL learners must be given stories that can be easily read. These are the stories with relatively simple story lines. It is also suggested that teachers choose a title from familiar contexts with characters that are catchy enough to hook students' interest. Most importantly, ESL learners must be given worksheets that will help them get to know the character better.
It is important that teachers model how to get to know the characters in a story. Over time, kids are able to do it themselves. Soon, they will be able to explain why a character behaved in a particular manner, predict his/her actions and understand his/her traits. Here are some fresh activities and downloadable worksheets that will elicit students' responses to get to know characters better.
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When great readers read, they are able to envision the characters in the given text. After reading a story, have your students draw the characters they have imagined. This will make them visualize what they have read, which will encourage them to pay attention to the images that get into their mind when they read next time. You may also let them draw the place where the story happened to deepen comprehension. Download the Word-formatted graphic organizer by clicking on the link.
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Letters to Characters
Have students write letters to characters. This provides evidences on how much they have understood a character in a story. There are several creative ways on how you can do this. You may ask them to make thank you notes for the lessons they have learned from the characters or have them write simple letters giving their opinion on how a character should have behaved in particular scenes in the story. Check out the letter stationery, another Word doc, through the link.
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Have your students write character sketches as if they were introducing them to a new reader. Let them write vivid descriptions of characters. Have them write physical and personality traits of the character/s. Later on, have them read aloud their sketches in class. Download free English as a Second Language printable worksheets via the link.