ELLiterature grew from a something I saw when I worked as a TEFL teacher and trainer with the Peace Corps in Costa Rica. Maybe you — as an English learner or teacher — have experienced it too.
Fellow teachers and I were looking for poems and short stories for English learners — something more than informational articles. That task proved to be much more difficult than I thought.
I couldn’t find much online or in textbooks. I realized Shakespeare and Milton might be valuable to study, but their vocabulary isn’t suited to English language learners — at least not at first. On the other hand, abridged stories or elementary readers (in the vein of “See Spot Run”) didn’t have the richness of language and deeper meaning that makes literature valuable. Many texts or edited pieces I found were … boring … and didn’t spark the lively conversations about life that good literature does.
So I began a quest, one lesson at a time, to find poems and short stories and nonfiction essays with accessible vocabulary with enough challenge to help learners improve vocabulary, and that were short and manageable to read but had rich language, sound, rhythm, and meaning that I knew students would appreciate when they gained the vocabulary knowledge and worked on the critical reading skills to really see it — to sense the words beyond the words.
ELLiterature is a place for learners and teachers to find accessible, inspiring poems and stories and to be supported in their exploration of literature and language.
Let’s be honest — Who hasn’t been in a literature class thinking, “I don’t get it”? The lessons here are meant to bring ELL students (and spark ideas for teachers) through each poem or story, to let you immerse in the beauty of language or the power and meaning that even one word can hold. I hope these lessons lead you to trust your own experiences of what you read, your own reactions and questions that arise, no matter your language level. I hope the lessons inspire you to love words and see their possibilities, as Annie Dillard says, like a painter loves the smell of paint.
I’ve seen that learning to delve into literature not only makes us sharper readers and speakers, but literature also gives us a window into culture, history, and human experience that helps us to use the language in meaningful ways and to grow as people. Language is inseparable from culture — and literature is like a place on paper where language and culture meet. Even if you can’t go to an English speaking country yet, you can experience in literature a bit of what it’s like to be immersed.
As a poet and creative writer, I’ve also included creative writing lessons inspired by the literature. When we experience the writing process, we begin to see the choices and elements of literature from the author’s perspective — and that teaches us another way to think about literature when we experience it as readers.
Now, years later, I’m continuing the work I found in Costa Rica — I still work with some of the same teachers. I also — daily — grow as a Spanish speaker; I know what it is to learn a language, practice it, and continue learning over years. My work here grows from my experience both as a teacher and language learner. I’m offering these resources for you as I continue building, lesson by lesson.
Thanks for stopping by. Please check out my offerings, and feel free to contact me and let me know how I can support you!