Volume 2 | Issue 1 | May 2014

Article 1 – Intertextuality and Intermediality in Philip Pullman’s Spring-Heeled Jack and in Kevin Brooks’ iBoy

Training English teachers involves acquainting them with suitable texts for their future classrooms. Ideally such texts touch upon matters that children and young adults respond to and such literature also offers learning opportunities both for the pre-service teachers and their students. It can be argued that such learning opportunities can be found when analysing superheroes, when considering the impact of the new media on young people or when focusing on the blending of different genres and texts. The two novels selected for this purpose are Philip Pullman’s Spring-Heeled Jack (1989) and Kevin Brooks’ iBoy (2010). The former is a hybrid of a traditional and a graphic novel and resorts to intertextual allusions, for instance by means of quotes at the beginning of each chapter. The latter text also resorts to quotations – but from different sources, namely almost exclusively from the worldwide web. While iBoy may at first sight look rather conventional as a novel, it nevertheless reveals its provenance from the digital age in the numbering of the chapters in the binary system. Young readers (and their teachers) may thus discover the pleasures of literary reading when following Pullman’s superhero (taken from a Victorian penny-dreadful) across London. Brooks’ hybrid protagonist, by contrast, a first-person narrator, allows readers to gain insights into the problematic side of his role and his powers. Ultimately these rather conventional novels succeed in capturing their readers’ attention and somewhat contradict critics who predict the arrival of a more hypertextual approach to reading because of the impact of the new media. read more

Article 2 – The Hunger Games: An Ecocritical Reading

This paper examines how a popular series like Suzanne Collins’ The Hunger Games trilogy can motivate students to improve their language and literacy proficiency by extensive reading. Moving on from there, we argue a thoughtful and collaborative deep reading of The Hunger Games can broaden as well as change perspectives; for without being openly didactic, the series is sufficiently multilayered to provide meaningful booktalk in the classroom and to trigger engaged debate. Recognising that the degradation of non-human nature through human action has become a major theme in education, we argue that the intentionally interdisciplinary approach of ecocriticism towards a literary text can be a contribution to global issues education in the English as a Second Language (ESL) and English as a Foreign Language (EFL) classroom. We offer an ecocritical examination of The Hunger Games, not as an ideal or model reading, but rather aiming to promote ecopedagogy and further critical discussion and creative language activities in the secondary ESL/EFL classroom and student teacher seminar. To illustrate an ecocritical reading, we trace the classical literary tropes of apocalypse, pastoral and wilderness and reflect on the trilogy’s multilayered approach towards the relationship between the human and the non-human. Finally, we suggest how critical issues such as consumer manipulation, media and celebrity culture can well be discussed with reference to The Hunger Games trilogy. read more

Article 3 – Close Reading Facilitates Exploration and Text Creation

This article shares instructional ideas to enhance language and literacy experiences involving the reading and writing processes of young bilinguals (Spanish and English) in Colorado, USA when engaging with informational texts. Informational texts provide language scaffolds for young bilinguals because they build on their background knowledge about the world around them. Drawing on their recognition of real-world concepts found in informational texts, teaching ideas that enrich both academic and social vocabulary are shared. These teaching ideas suggest moving beyond the read aloud and individual reading of informational texts; they suggest instead teaching young learners to ‘read like writers’ and utilize Jenkins and Page’s What Do You Do With a Tail Like This? (2003) as a mentor text. This article includes relevant research, teaching ideas and classroom examples for scaffolding a close reading, ultimately resulting in intercultural explorations as the children share their writing about their home contexts. read more

Article 4 – From Flat Stanley to Flat Cat

In this article, a Flat Cat Project is shared. Beginning with a description of the initial idea, influenced by the picturebook Flat Stanley (Brown, 1964), an account is given of a paper-plate Flat Cat and its journey across countries and cultures, visiting children who are learning English. The Flat Cat’s visit to Madrid, Spain is described in detail, demonstrating how such projects can support development in areas such as creativity and literacy, and promote intercultural and interlinguistic learning. read more

Article 5 – To Read or not to Read

This article focuses on the opportunities and challenges of implementing an extensive reading project in an English as a foreign language classroom in Germany. Studies such as PISA have shown that comparatively poor German and foreign language reading skills are still a prevalent issue in German society today. Consequently, the question of how these poor results can be improved is of utmost importance. Reading motivation is often described as the ‘driving force of reading’. Research has shown that if reading motivation and reading for pleasure are supported, interest in reading in a foreign language can be created, which may in turn have a positive impact on the other influential factors in reading and related skills. Dörnyei’s framework of L2 motivation sums up the current thinking on reading motivation. With its constituents ‘language’, ‘learner’, and ‘learning situation’, it shows the aspects to be taken into consideration when it comes to the improvement of motivation. Within this theoretical framework, an ER project was conducted at a grammar school (Gymnasium) in Frankfurt/Main, Germany. On the basis of the gathered data, gained from questionnaires, worksheets and the transcript of a focus group discussion, six main categories could be identified. They point to the development of a positive attitude towards reading among the students and the potential of graphic novels as a motivating factor. It was also confirmed that a successful application of reading strategies led to increased motivation. Generally, the project showed that reading is still an issue amongst many teenagers and that an ER project can affect learners, their motivation and related language skills in a positive way. read more

Article 6 – Intercultural Education, Picturebooks and Refugees

Picturebooks can be used as a means of teaching a range of intercultural issues as well as enriching learners’ linguistic and literacy skills. As windows and mirrors, picturebooks can be a powerful vehicle in the classroom in terms of intercultural education for all learners, including those working through the medium of a second language. This article explores the potential of teaching the topic of refugees through picturebooks. While developing the traditional forms of literacy, reading and writing, strategies can also be used to promote critical literacies and intercultural education. Critical multicultural analysis of these picturebooks examines the complex web of power in our society, the interconnected systems of race, class and gender and how they work together. A framework is presented for analysing one picturebook through a series of activities that help learners and teachers to critically interrogate the topic of refugees with empathy and understanding. read more

Book Review

Emer O’Sullivan and Dietmar Rösler
Kinder- und Jugendliteratur im Fremdsprachenunterricht read more