Editorial

Issue 17 of REALBOOK NEWS is the second edition to be only on the website. It aims to help the increasing number of parents and teachers who want to include REALpictureBOOKs in part of young children’s programme of beginning to learn English as a foreign language.

This Issue is the last that I will edit and publish as REALBOOK NEWS is being taken over by the EFL Unit of the Language Teaching Centre at the University of York. The next editor/ publisher I am proud to announce will be Annie Hughes, the Assistant Director of the Unit, who is also well known for her passion for picture books. The 500 picture books reviewed in the last 17 Issues of REALBOOK NEWS have also been given to the EFL Centre and the collection will be available in York for students’ reference and research. My hope is that under the guidance of Annie Hughes the website will develop into a bigger resource and reach a wider audience world-wide.

The enthusiasm and networking generated from the Munich Conference on Learning English through Picture Books last November led participants to petition the British Council to organise a second Conference at the same place on the same lines in 2006. The Ludwig Maxmillans University, Munich, plans to publish the 16 research papers together with the Methodology Lectures and the final Plenary later this year. The feed back has been exciting; some University Lecturers inform us that they have re-written their courses to include a module on using well selected picture books. I include in this Issue books by the three illustrators and authors who lectured at the Conference and generously gave up time to get to know participants individually - Tony Ross, Pat Hutchins and Stella Blackstone, who is in fact Tessa Strickland, publisher of Barefoot Books. It is my hope that if you are organising regional Conferences you will think of inviting one of them. As we found in Munich, having speakers from outside the EFL world adds a new and stimulating ‘cross-over’ dimension.

The British Council recently published a pre-view of David Graddol’s updated research on the position of English learning world-wide. According to Graddol, English is being repositioned as a ‘basic skill’ to be learned by Primary School children alongside Information Technology, in preparation for learning other subjects in English at Secondary School. This has implications for those using REALpictureBOOKS as it is well known that these children are more confident users of English. They are generally more visually literate and understand more types of discourse. They also have a larger vocabulary which is important as English has a huge lexicon - a possible working vocabulary of around half a million words. French uses only about 200,000 and German around 150,000 words.

For those of you coming to London, the British Library in Euston Road is celebrating 200 years of the birth of Hans Christian Andersen in Denmark with a new-style Exhibition. The British Library is open everyday. www.bl.uk/everyone.

You may be interested in the discussion group Tefl_Kids@yahoogroups.com started by Lucy Mellerish and helped by Susi Tueler, (who both presented picturebooks at the Munich Conference). They introduce one REALpictureBOOK each month and suggest related, useful activities.

I feel that the Munich Conference was a landmark confirming the importance and value of including REALpictureBOOKS in young children’s English learning experience. The publication of the Conference Book will be important as it will take the Conference message to a wider audience. It is with this feeling of achievement that I handover to Annie Hughes and thank you for your support and enthusiasm over the last 8 years. Children need picture books and through reading for pleasure, you are sewing some seeds for a life-long love of books.

With very good wishes to you all,

 

Opal Dunn

 

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