segunda-feira, 27 de junho de 2011

New interview with Jack Scholes!

Jack Scholes has just launched his most recent book, The Coconut Seller, and has kindly given me another interview, talking about extensive reading. Check it out:

Born and bred in England, Jack has over 40 years experience in the field of ELT, in many different countries including Brazil, and is now a freelance trainer and ELT specialist. He is the author of Guitar Glory (Saraiva),
Inglês para Curiosos (Papier), OK! Curiosidades divertidas do inglês
(Campus), Slang – Gírias Atuais do Inglês (Disal Editora), Modern Slang (Disal Editora), Slang Activity Book (Disal Editora), Gems of Wisdom (Disal Editora), Break the Branch? – Quebrar o Galho (Disal Editora), Why do we say that? – Por que dizemos isso? (Campus / Elsevier) and The Coconut Seller (Helbling Languages).

You have just published a new book. What's the story about?
Jack -
It’s called The Coconut Seller and it was published in Italy by Helbling Languages for world-wide distribution. Here in Brazil it’s available in a special, exclusive co-edition with Disal Editora. The story is about a poor coconut seller from the favela called Bruno who falls in love with a beautiful rich girl, but her father doesn’t approve and tries to stop the relationship. Then a criminal from Bruno’s past tries to blackmail Bruno into helping him make some easy money. The story combines drama, adventure and action.

Why did you decide to write a story set in Brazil?
Jack -
I’ve been working with extensive readers ever since my early days of teaching and I believe this is the first and only reader published by an international publisher where the story takes place in Brazil. I think location really matters. Learners of English in South American have been asking for stories that are ‘local’ for a long time. I also feel particularly proud of this story because it allows students from all over the world to learn more about Brazil. The very first pre-reading activity in the book is a quiz to find out how much you know about Brazil. I sincerely hope that this reader will motivate students from all over the world to find out more about Brazil and appreciate the fascinating richness of the language and culture here.

How important is extensive reading in the process of learning a foreign language?
Jack -
In terms of language learning, extensive reading reinforces language already learned until it becomes deeply embedded. Research studies also conclusively prove that extensive reading enhances general language competence and improves the following – reading, writing, listening and speaking skills, vocabulary, grammar and even exam results!
Extensive reading also creates motivation and sustains motivation to read more. And the most exciting thing that happens when students read extensively and regularly is that their attitude towards learning a new language improves, and consequently their motivation increases.

Many students say they don't like reading. What can teachers do to change this opinion?
Jack -
This is not entirely true. Students do read quite a lot, but they are unlikely to be reading Machado de Assis or Shakespeare, unless this is compulsory reading for an exam. Almost all teenagers use the Internet to read websites, blogs, send and receive emails, text messages, and instant messages. They are also reading magazines and newspapers on the Internet. So our challenge is to make traditional reading as interesting and attractive as possible, with engaging, compelling texts which are relevant to students’ lives. Noam Chomsky has often been quoted as saying that ‘99% of good teaching is getting students interested in the material.’ This is our first and most important task.
The teachers’ role is crucial. Your attitude as a teacher is probably more important than what you actually teach. We can all easily and quickly remember teachers from our schooldays – the good ones and the bad ones – but how much can we remember about what they actually taught us? You need to ‘sell’ extensive reading. Make sure you read the readers yourself and show boundless enthusiasm. It becomes contagious. You also need to explain the aims, the methodology and the importance of extensive reading. It is your job to guide the students to get the most out of reading and also motivate and encourage them with before, during and after reading activities.

In your opinion, reading is ....
Jack -
… good for you!
People do better in their lives generally if they can read well. Reading is the cornerstone of a person’s intellectual, cultural, personal and professional growth. And the virtuous circle of reading shows that:

The more students read,
The better they get at it.
And the better they are at it,
The more they read.