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Topic 15B – Times, authors and genres suitable for application in teaching English class. Types of texts.

This topics deals with literature and its use in a Primary Education stage English class, therefore we are talking about Children’s literature, a literary genre whose primary audience is children.

( Defining children’s literature ). First of all we would need to define what is meant by “children’s literature”. In general, the term refers to books which adults — teachers and schools, parents, librarians, award committees, publishers, scholars, etc,– consider appropriate for children to read. This implies that some books may or may not be considered appropriate for children, such as the fairy tales of Charles Perrault (17th century). Some of his tales are Little Red Riding Hood, Cinderella, and Sleeping Beauty.

Defining children’s literature is not easy because many books that originally were not written for children are now considered children’s literature. An example of this is The Prince and the Pauper, or the Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, both written by the American author Mark Twain. The opposite is also true: fiction books that were originally written or marketed for children have recognition as adult books. For example, Philip Pullman‘s The Amber Spyglass, and Mark Haddon‘s The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time, were originally written and marketed for children, and both won Whitbread Awards, which are typically awarded to novels for adults. The Nobel prize for literature has also been given to authors such as Selma Lagerlöf and Isaac Singer who made great contributions to children’s literature. Often no consensus is reached as to whether a given work is best categorized as adult or children’s literature, and many books are multiply marketed in adult, children’s, and young adult editions; a prominent example of this is the Harry Potter series, which was published in separate editions for children and adults. The difficulty in categorizing these books lies in that much of what is commonly regarded as “classic” children’s literature speaks on multiple levels, and therefore can be enjoyed by both adults and children. For example, many people will reread Alice in Wonderland as adults and appreciate aspects of the book that they failed to appreciate when they were children. (ESTE PARRAFO SE PUEDE RESUMIR COGIENDO LO QUE MAS FACIL OS RESULTE DE APRENDER).


Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, by Lewis Carroll

The stories of Peter Rabbit, by Beatrix Potter who was both writer and illustrator.

The Happy Prince and The Canterville Ghost, by Oscar Wilde

The Jungle Book, by Rudyard Kipling

The Lord of the Rings, J.R. Tolkien

From the other side of the Atlantic, America, we have many famous writers and works. Some examples are: Louisa M Alcott and her novel Little Women , Mark Twain and his works The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and Adventures or Huckleberry Finn by Mark.

More recently, Roald Dhal wrote very popular children’s books like Matilda and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. British author, J.K. Rowling is probably the best-known children’s author today and also the most successful. She is the author of the extremely successful, Harry Potter series, and her books have been sold in more than 300 million copies worldwide and are translated into more than 60 languages. She is also the first billionaire-author.

From a HISTORICAL PERSPECTIVE , we could say that with the exception of nursery rhymes, which belong to the oral tradition, before the 17th century, children’s literature was practically non-existent. Children read books such as Aesop’s Fables, Robinson Crusoe, written by Daniel Defoe, and Gulliver’s Travels written by Jonathan Swift, but these books were really written for adults, not for children. Children’s WRITTEN literature makes its first appearance in the 18th century with works such as Gigantic Histories by Thomas Boreman. But it was the 19th century when Children ‘s Literature appeared as a genre. Until then, it didn’t seem necessary to create a literature written especially for children, but with the appearance of mass education a large market was created, permitting the possibility of distributing books for children.

Because of the difficulty in defining children’s literature (was it initially written for children or for adults?), it is also difficult to trace its history to a precise starting point. In 1658 Jan Ámos Komenský published the illustrated informational book Orbis Pictus; it’s considered to be the first picture book published specifically for children. John Newbery‘s 1744 publication of A Little Pretty Pocket-Book, sold with a ball for boys or a pincushion for girls, is considered a landmark for the beginning of pleasure reading marketed specifically to children. Previous to Newbery there was a rich oral tradition of storytelling for children as well as adults; and there were many tales that were later considered to be inappropriate for children, such as the fairy tales of Charles Perrault (17th century). Some of his tales are Cinderella and Sleeping Beauty which are not considered appropriate children’s literature due to their gender bias (/baies/) (sesgo de género). In other words, today they are considered potilically incorrect. Also, some literature not written with children in mind was given to children by adults. An example would be the Robin Hood tales.

Neverthless, we can attempt to establish a TIMELINE OF TURNING POINTS, or important moments of change, in the history children’s literature. The order in this timeline would be the following:


1 Fairy tale collections are one of the earliest forms of published fiction that have never lost their charm for children, though several of the classic tales are gruesome and were not originally collected for children. Famous collectors and re-tellers of Fairy Tales include Charles Perrault, the brothers Grimm, Hans Christian Andersen and Andrew Lang.

2 Next we have Orbis Pictus (1658) by Jan Ámos Komensky. This is the earliest picturebook

3. Then we have The Pilgrim’s Progress by John Bunyan (1678): many later children’s fantasies were modeled on this Christian allegory.

4. A Token for Children. Being An Exact Account of the Conversion, Holy and Exemplary Lives, and Joyful Deaths of several Young Children (1672) by James Janeway: One of the first books specifically written for children which shaped much eighteenth- and early nineteenth-century writing for children

5. 5 A Little Pretty Pocket-Book (1744) by John Newbery: Earliest marketing tie-in and storybook marketed as pleasure reading in English

6 The Governess; (1749) by Sarah Fielding: Often described as the first novel for children

7 Struwwelpeter (1845) by Heinrich Hoffmann (published in English as Slovenly Peter): One of the earliest examples of grotesque humor as well as of modern picturebook design

8 Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland (1864) by Lewis Carroll: Early surrealism and extensive criticism of didacticism.

9 Five on a Treasure Island is published in 1942 by Enid Blyton.

10 The Cat in the Hat (1957) by Dr. Seuss: First high quality limited-vocabulary book, written for early readers

11 11 To Kill a Mockingbird (1962) by Harper Lee: Pulitzer for book market to children; also seminal work on race

12 Annie on My Mind (1982) by Nancy Garden: First children’s book about homosexual characters with a non-tragic conclusion.

13 Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone (1997) by J. K. Rowling, and sequels; worldwide publishing phenomenon, one of the bestselling books of all times and one of the most widely translated works of literature. Worldwide popularity caused resurgence of interest in children’s literature.

Since the middle of 20th Children’s literature has become an important part of the publishing industry. Although traditional books are still very popular, children’s likes and tastes have changed, and so have adults’ ideas on what children should read. Today’s children’s literature pays attention to different aspects of human rights and ecology. An example is Annie on My Mind (1982) by Nancy Garden, which is the first children’s book about homosexual characters with a non-tragic conclusion. Comics are also a very popular form of children’s literature today.


There different types, or genres, of literature for children. We will describe some of them.

Probably, one of the most relevant is tales. Tales are useful in the FL classroom because they provide the possibility of repeating words and structures, helping children reinforce aspects of the language. Tales use argumentative techniques and language suitable for children. They normally transmit moral values and approach the pupils to the culture of the language speaking community.

We can find different types of tales: Fairy tales, usually with supernatural creatures such as fairies and witches. Fairy tales are suitable for children in the age from 7 to 10. Examples of Fairy tales are: Rapunzel, Cinderella and Sleeping Beauty . Animal stories and fables : in which the characters are animals. The Three Little Pigs is an example of this type of tale. Fantasy tales of travels and adventures, often related to legends (can you think of one…?)

Another type of children’s literature is nursery rhymes. A nursery rhyme is a traditional song or poem taught to young children, originally in the nursery. It has the form of “verse”, and learning such verse assists in the development of vocabulary. A classic examples of nursery rhyme is Twinkle, Twinkle,Little Star.

Many cultures have nursery rhymes, or children’s songs and verses that are passed down by oral tradition from one generation to the next (either from parent to child, or from older children to younger children). Many English “nursery rhymes” originated in or since the 17th century. Some, however, are older. “Sing a Song of Sixpence” exists in written records as far back as the Middle Ages. One of the most famous collection of nursery rhymes is that of Mother Goose. Some well known nursery rhymes originated in the United States, such as “Mary had a little lamb“. Nursery rhymes are often violent in nature, for example, in Jack and Jill went up the hill, we have the words Jack fell down and “broke his crown”, meaning breaking his head.

One advantage of using nursery rhymes in the English classroom is that they are relatively short. Typically, they have

exclamations, many repetitions of words and structures, helping children to establish vocabulary, intonation, stress, pronunciation, new structures and also cultural elements and concepts. This genre of literature permit different ways of explotation in the FL class. For example, it is possible to introduce activities in which pupils move or play games. They are short and simple., so the pupils learn them quickly.

Our next genre is riddles. A riddle is an ancient and universal form of literature, with a certain and common structure and intonation known by children. It´s a kind of puzzle question, an enigma. The earliest known English riddles were recorded (or compiled) in the Exeter book in the 18th century. Short or with many lines of verse, we find collections of riddles in many differents languages. Like nursery rhymes, riddles are short and they have stressed intonation, which makes them useful in the foreign language class. An example of a riddle would be:

What goes up black and white and comes down /red/ ? An the answer is a newspaper.

Esto lo pongo aqui porque lo he visto en un tema de primaria (!!!!), por supuesto sin “ejemplos”… Limerick: a light verse with a fixed verse form. They usually have by five lines that rhyme. The majority of them are anonymous because they have a popular origin. This form of verse is useful to practise pronunciation…… Ejemplos de limericks: NO APTOS PARA EL EXAMEN, OF COURSE

There was a young man from Nantucket Here’s to old king Montezuma

Whose cock was so long he could suck it For fun he buggered a puma

And he said with a grin The puma one day

As he wiped off his chin– Bit both balls away

If my ear was a cunt I could fuck it. An example of animal humour

Los Limericks suelen ser obscenos, de todas formas si los quereis mencionar aqui teneis uno adecuado:

There once was a man from Darjeeling

who travelled from London to Ealing .

When it said on the door:

“Please don´t spit on the floor “

The man carefully spat on the ceiling

Another literary genre is Comics. Comics combine visual art and written text, often in the form of speech balloons, or speech bubbles. Comics first appeared to illustrate caricatures and to entertain through the use of amusing and trivial stories. Today the comic has evolved into a literary medium with many subgenres.

The most common forms of printed comics are comic strips in newspapers and magazines, and longer comic stories in comic books, and comic albums. Depending on the definition of the term, the origin of comics can be traced back to 15th century Europe. However, today’s form of comics (with panels, and using text within the image in speech balloons, etc.), as well as the term comics itself, originated in the late 19th century.

The advantage of using comics in the FL classroom is that the combination of images and words facilitate comprehension. Another advantage is that students are usually attracted towards this type of input, especially the older students in third cycle of Primary Education.

As a last genre , we can mention songs, as some of them belong to oral literary tradition. There is a close connexion between nursery rhymes and songs. An example of song would be London Bridge is Falling Down (se os ocurre alguno mejor…?) Songs are an interesting resource because children love them, and through their use they can learn vocabulary, pronunciation, intonation, structure and sentence patterns. Some songs are easy to learn because they have repetition.

We will now look at the use of Literature in English class in relation to the four skills. When we talk about Literature in the mother tongue, or native language, or L1, we are mainly talking about the READING skill. But in the setting of the FL classroom the predominant skill is LISTENING. This is so ( Es asi) for two reasons:

The first one is that the English level of students in Primary Education is at the “beginner” stage, so they are not ready to read literature that was written for children who have English as their first language. In other words, their ability to read Spanish is much greater than their ability to read English in a comprehensive way.

The second reason is that our National Curriculum for the Foreign language area advises teachers not to introduce the reading skill in the FL until children have learnt to read in the first language, in Spanish.

So, when we talk about using English literature in Primary Education we are mainly talking about ORAL SKILLS. First, LISTENING to tales, stories, rhymes, songs, etc, and then SPEAKING, as students can sing the songs we have taught them, or role play a story that we have told them.

READING literature is also possible if we present the students some very simplified version of a story with illustrations to accompany all written text, especially in the first and second cycle. Children in the third cycle and also read simple comic strips.

As regards stories or tales for children, it is important to point out that they are often shared by the different European cultures. For example the tale of the Three Little Pigs, or Pinocchio, etc, are common to Spain, France, the U.K. Italy, and the rest of Europe. The fact that tales for children are part of our common European culture is interesting from the point of view of foreign-language teaching, because it means that children are already familiar with the story when they hear it, and this helps them with LISTENING COMPREHENSION.

Not all stories, however, are common to Spain and the U.K.. For example , Spanish children are not familiar with The Gingerbread Man unless they have heard it in English class. But in this case, the children would be learning about a socio-cultural aspect of the FL, which is one of the communicative competences that they need to acquire.

When selecting a work of literature we must bear in mind a number of things: (1) The text itself –or our oral version of the text– is of central importance. It should not be too difficult or too easy for the particular group we are teaching. (2) Our pupils should genuinely interact with the text, their classmates and the teacher and not be mere recipients. (3) Activities should be designed to enable pupils to share their personal experiences, perceptions and opinions.

Our activities should be varied and interesting. Duff and Maley give a list of general procedures that we can use in our classrooms: reconstruction reduction expansion replacement

Matching ranking comparison analyzing

As for (En cuanto a) Types of Activities, we can mention the following (escoge unas cuantas):

  • Listen to the story on tape/as read by the teacher without looking at the text.
  • Listen to the story and read along.
  • Listen to the story and put illustrations depicting parts of the story in order.
  • Read the book silently.
  • Read the book to a partner, then switch.
  • Write your favorite words/new words/words starting with A from the story in your notebook.
  • Write a portion of the story in the workbook.
  • Answer (or practice asking) simple who, what, when, where, and why questions about the story.
  • Play pictionary.
  • Speed reading game. Call out a word from the text, then let students race to find it. The first one to find it reads the sentence aloud. A word of caution: this game is rather hard on books.
  • Have students display the flashcards they made, let them be the teacher and ask the class, “What is this?”
  • Make up a dance or do actions to the words of the story.
  • Have students “freeze” a moment of the text by acting out exactly what is described in the text at some specific moment, and holding perfectly still.
  • Do a verbal fill-in-the-blank exercise. As you read, stop at random and have students shout out what word comes next.
  • Check comprehension of key concepts by asking students to draw pictures.
  • A lot of students really do enjoy memorizing the books. Allow them to recite what they’ve memorized in teams. Many students love to show off their English, and feel very proud of being able to produce a minute or so of non-stop English.

CONCLUSION. As a conclusion I would say that Literature is a source of enjoyment in the FL classroom. It helps us teach socio-cultural aspects of the target language and offers the possibility of many different types of activities that children enjoy and that can be of great help in the foreign-language learning process.

Temas 15 y 16

Teaching ESL Children through Literature (temas 15 y 16)

Literature is a powerful resource for teachers to use in FL classes. Even at beginning proficiency levels, teachers can use literature as the pivot around which curriculum revolves (Richard-Amato 246).

It is important to consider how to introduce different types of literature to ESL children. Literature can be incorporated with several other teaching tools such as: the Internet, film, drama, music, author studies, and writing.

In literature based didactic units we can have different forms of groupings (individual, small group, whole group activities).

There is an abundance of children’s literature to choose from so a teacher must be very careful to research what he or she incorporates in the classroom. Multicultural literature is crucial for children to understanding other cultures and retaining pride in their own culture.

Literature can be taken outside of language arts and incorporated in several different subject matters. Literature is a great way to tie all the subjects together.

Children’s literature is a really valuable tool in introducing children to different cultures. It is a great way for second language learners to share their different cultures with the class and experience new ones as well.

The high-quality books published for children, the visual appeal of their illustrations, and the enjoyment their stories bring readers are powerful reasons to use literature in EFL teaching practice.

The use of literature in the foreign language supports and helps to develop children’s general literacy skills.

Literature is authentic. It is not usually written solely to teach specific structures or vocabulary. Instead its structures and vocabulary grow naturally out of the ideas, plots, dialogues, and situations developed. This makes learning a more meaningful experience.

Exposure to quality writing through literature leads to a wider oral and written vocabulary as a child matures (Hancock ).

Literature provides memorable contexts for the language. Text is much easier to reproduce, understand, and recall if it is structured episodically.

Literature uses characters and plot lines so students are engaged cognitively and emotionally.

Literature helps children connect to other cultures. Literature can expose children to new ideas and different people and things in a powerful way.

Literature can be a source of pride for children by seeing their own values and traditions reflected in what they read.

Literature often has universal themes that any child can relate to (Richard-Amato ).

Literature naturally encourages children to interpret and draw their own conclusions, and develop their own opinions regarding personal, and social issues.

Literature can stir up strong emotions that lead to critical analysis and reflection.

Literature creates readers. Availability and choice of books, time spent with books, and a supportive, enthusiastic teacher are essential elements for creating readers. ESL children need time to look at books, to listen to books, to respond to books, to read independently, and to reflect on the reading experience. A teacher who supports literature as the basis of literacy and curricular instruction provides an effective entry into second language literacy (Hancock 9).

There are several types of literature: picture books, traditional tales and fantasy, poetry, realistic and historical fiction, biography and informational, and multicultural books. Every type is an exciting avenue that can boost ESL children’s learning and excitement about reading.

It is important to be careful when choosing of what is used in the classroom.

It is important that children have a comfort level with books. Books should not be presented as holy relics that can hardly be touched. They should be shown as items that need to be respected and taken care of, but also items that can be touched, handled, and enjoyed.

Literature can be incorporated with several different teaching tools to give ESL children a wide variety of learning opportunities. Literature can be incorporated with computers, film, drama, music, art, and writing.

Drama is another great teaching tool. Drama is the opportunity for performance and emotion to blend into personal expression. Drama combined with literature is a very long process for ESL children. Literature must be read, listened to, and savored before any form of dramatic response can result. A child must feel a familiarity with the text, establish a kinship with characters, internalize the plot sequence, and develop a joy in the language and style before children can be expected to respond expressively.

Music is a universal language, and a tool that every child can respond to. Through music, language easily finds roots in the experience of students at any age or proficiency level. Music reduces anxiety and inhibition in second language students

(Richard-Amato ). Musical response to literature exhibits itself in a variety of guises. Musical response may include singing the text of a book, accompanying the reading of a book with musical instruments, selecting music as background for read-aloud, etc. (Hancock ).

Art is also a universal language, and a great way for ESL children to express themselves. Art is a very important aspect of culture and is important in understanding and exploring other cultures. Art provides an interesting means for readers to respond to the books they read. Children do not have to be particularly artistic to use art as a means of expression. The artistic response to literature may arise as a response to text, to illustrations, to a poem, or even to an art element, such as line, space, or colour. Artistic responses can be a valuable tool for ESL children.

Young writers internalize writing through literature. A child’s own writing can be considered a cumulative response to the well-written literature that has surrounded him or her in childhood (Hancock 249). Whether children hear literature through a read-aloud or experience it in their minds during independent reading, emergent writers, with the guidance of an aware teacher, note literary techniques and slowly emulate them in their own creative works.

Multicultural literature transports the reader to many lands and surveys many cultures as it attempts to share differences among peoples of the world. Alongside the diversity, it encourages the recognition of commonalties among cultures.

Although cultural contexts change, people retain their sameness, revealing similarities in emotions, commitments, dreams, and expectations. Multicultural literature invites the reader to gain understanding about beliefs, and values that are not so different from their own. Exposure to multicultural literature provides both a mirror into one’s own world and a door into the culture and lives of others (Hancock ).

Literature allows the teacher to design activities that take into account different learning styles, for example, by using different forms of groupings.

Esto por si quereis ampliar


Some noted awards for children’s literature are:

· Canada: the Governor General’s Award for Children’s Literature and Illustration (English and French). A number of the provinces’ school boards and library associations also run popular “children’s choice” awards where candidate books are read and championed by individual schools and classrooms. These include the Silver Birch (grades 4-6) and the Red Maple (grades 7-8) in Ontario.

· United States: the major awards are given by the American Library Association Association for Library Service to Children. They include the Newbery Medal for writing, Caldecott Medal for illustration, Golden Kite Award in various categories from the SCBWI, Sibert Medal for informational, Laura Ingalls Wilder Medal for impact over time, Batchelder Award for works in translation, Coretta Scott King Award for work by an African-American writer, and the Belpre Medal for work by a Latino writer.

· United Kingdom and Commonwealth: the Carnegie Medal for writing and the Kate Greenaway Medal for illustration; the Nestlé Smarties Book Prize; and the Guardian Award.

· Internationally: the Hans Christian Andersen Award, and the Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award

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