In our school, there is a strong belief that a lifelong reading habit is essential for our students in the process of acquiring a second language. Reading is an ideal way of enhancing the children's language proficiency, widening their life experiences and extending their learning capacity.
To develop a love of reading with our students at a young age, therefore, has always been one of our main concerns. In order to cultivate the students' reading habits and to equip them with the necessary reading skills, the Integrated English Language Programme (IELP) has been launched in Keystage One in our School since 2005.
The IELP is an integral component of the Education and Manpower Bureau's overall current strategy for language education and is organized by the Hong Kong Council of Early Childhood Children and Services.
Under the programme, story books are used instead of textbooks and the Shared Book Approach, Writing Process Activities and other interactive language activities are being integrated into lessons. Children sing songs, read story books and participate in different language activities in class. The students learn through shared-reading a wide variety of readers with repeated sentence patterns and common vocabulary.
From the teachers' observation, the students learn better with the IELP programme. They find that the students' four language skills have been elevated and they are amazed at how the children are absorbed in the stories and the discussions in lessons. The interesting point is that, not only can the students memorize every detail of the stories; they can also grasp the focused grammar points easily. Every time a new book is introduced, one can tell how eager the students are to find out what is going to happen; and each time they are asked whether they would like to take the new reader home, the answer is always unanimously positive. Teaching in the classrooms becomes an enjoyable experience for the teachers.
The parents are also amazed at the change they observed. They say that their children, who never suggest reading textbooks to them, insist on reading the readers aloud once the storybooks are given out. They also find that their children's vocabulary capacity, confidence in reading aloud and speaking skills have been enhanced. And most important of all, through observing their children, parents can see that reading in English can be pleasurable and enjoyable.