Help! I assigned a literature book that is too difficult for my students!

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Help! I assigned a literature book that is too difficult for my students!

Unread post by Lisa » Mon Jun 15, 2015 7:32 am

I am teaching 26 adult students in a pre-college English-language education program in Myanmar, and I am afraid that I may have picked a literature book that will prove to be too difficult for my students. The class is on English literature, and I had to pick the book at the start of the semester to allow for enough time for our student copies to arrive before teaching it. Now that the copies have arrived and we are about to start the book, I am thinking that I chose too difficult a book for their level. I picked "The Great Gatsby", and a few weeks into the semester and getting to know my students better I see that they are all reading at about a 6-8th grade level. I am afraid that Fitzgerald may prove to be way too nuanced and descriptive for them, not even to mention the potential vocabulary overload! The problem is, the program has already paid for the student book copies, so it's a bit too late for me to switch books without wasting money. The good news is that we also got a Top Notes literature studies reader book which summarizes each chapter, outlines the plot, characters, major themes, etc., in much simpler English than the original book. Does anyone have any recommendations on how I can go about teaching this book without overly frustrating my students, and still having it be a worthwhile reading experience? Has anyone experienced this problem before? Any advice is greatly appreciated, thanks!

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Re: Help! I assigned a literature book that is too difficult for my students!

Unread post by aporter » Tue Jun 30, 2015 11:42 pm

I see that your question was posted two weeks ago, so you may already have a solution. I have had this same problem at a high school level. In my case, my students had to read Poe`s The Oval Portrait, The Black Cat, and The Pit and the Pendulum. These stories were chosen by a previous teacher who left the school and I had to drag her students through the mind of Poe. These kids were not prepared for this reading, so I had them learn some of the vocabulary first with word searches, and then spelling bees, and then they tried to use the words in sentences, etc. I also showed them short videos based on the readings, chose parts of the readings to act out, and for the really really slow kids, I even created a page-by-page summary in simplified English. We read each story about four times and after the fourth time I would say that comprehension was probably 80%; a huge success.

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