Interactive immersive reading
This is another special multimodal story from The Guardian and explains the fate of a family who were affected by a bushfire in Tasmania.
Students are always interested in finding more about English speaking countries, none more so than good ol’ blighty. Most of my students here in Qatar have only ever visited London. They enjoy the shopping, fancy restaurants, tourist sites, palaces and museums; so why not teach them about the subterranean sewage system!? Something different and not likely to be found in the old fashioned textbook. Being serious, this story is interesting and has lots of short accessible written texts, sound effects and authentic native speech which is sure to engage and interest them.
(This could have helped us in our last pub quiz: Which city was the largest city in the world during the middle of the 19th century? We chose Istanbul.)
Multimodal media is another way of providing students with the authentic contextualised input that is required when learning a language. Immersive interactive reading is now freely available online and uses images, music, graphic design, animation and videos of spoken and written language.
Richard Kern (2015:194) notes that multimodal communication isn’t new and has in fact been the norm for most modes of communication for a long long time; just think of those beautifully designed medieval manuscripts or rebus books, theatre performances, science textbooks, concrete poetry, comic books, newspapers, magazines, television, the list goes on.
I often read The Guardian online and have come across news stories or special segments which include multimodal media. I have included some of these articles here as I think not only are they very interesting but can also be of great help to learners of English.
If you are interested in finding out more about the integration of reading material into classroom practice, I recommend reading the article by Klaus Brandl.
I have mainly used these interactive reading stories as homework exercises; we discuss some of the main issues in class and students can offer ideas on what they expect to find in the stories. I’ll also pre-teach any interesting language.
Kern, Richard (2015) Language, Literacy, and Technology.