We strongly believe that a lifelong reading habit is an essential part of the process of acquiring a second language. Reading is an ideal way of enhancing students’ language proficiency, widening their life experiences and extending their learning capacity.
Helping our students to develop a love of reading at a young age is therefore one of our main concerns. Since 2005, we have used the Integrated English Language Programme (IELP) to cultivate effective reading habits and to equip students with the necessary reading skills.
The IELP, which is organised by the Hong Kong Council of Early Childhood Education and Services, is an integral component of the Education Bureau's overall strategy for language education.
Under the programme, story books are used instead of textbooks and the Shared Book Approach, Writing Process Activities and other interactive language activities are integrated into lessons. Students read story books, sing songs and participate in different language activities in class. The students learn through the shared reading of a wide variety of readers, with repeated sentence patterns and common vocabulary.
Teachers have observed that students learn more effectively with the IELP programme. They become absorbed in the stories and discussions in lessons, and their four key language skills are significantly enhanced. Interestingly, not only can students memorise every detail of the stories, they can also grasp the focused grammar points more easily. Whenever a new book is introduced, students are eager to find out what is going to happen. Each time they are asked whether they would like to take a new reader home, the answer is unanimously positive. Teaching also becomes a highly enjoyable experience for teachers.
Students’ parents have been amazed by the changes they have observed. They report that their children, who had never suggested reading textbooks to them, insist on reading the readers aloud at home. Parents also find that their children's vocabulary, confidence in reading aloud and speaking skills have been enhanced. Most important of all, through observing their children, parents see that reading in English can be pleasurable and enjoyable.