English as a Second Language Essay

English as a Second Language Essay

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Helene Dunkelblau, an Assistant Professor of English as a Second Language at Queensborough Community College and author of “ESL Students Discover the Rewards of Reading through Reader Response Journals,” has experienced ESL students not only struggle to read but struggle to see themselves “as readers” (50). Dunkelblau has done the same first day introduction activity through many of her ESL classrooms, when the questions transition from those based on nationality to book interest “at least half of the students just shake their heads and ‘pass’” (51). Dunkelblau faces a challenge with ESL students encountered by English teachers in mainstream classrooms on a smaller scale—helping students develop a love for reading. Finding a way to relate what students are reading to their lives helps to create relevance and a greater understanding; which leads Dunkelblau to her rational for using reader response journals in the ESL reading classroom.
Throughout the course of the semester Dunkelblau requires reader response journals. She defines reader response journals as “informal literature logs in which students focus on their personal reaction to a story rather than on a strict literary analysis” (51), the informal structure of these responses appear to be a way to lessen readers’ stress while allowing for response. Due to the interactive nature of reading and the “theoretical framework which assumes that all reading involves transactions between reader and text” (51), readers who journal about what they read show a reflective ability important in the understanding of reading. Dunkelblau sees these reader response journals as a way for her students to find relevance in text to their lives. While the idea of reader response journals i...


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...comes not only from having read all the words of the novel, but from really knowing, for themselves” (55) the excitement and knowledge gained from reading and understanding a novel. As a future high school English teacher I hope to bring the idea of reader response journals into my classroom. By seeing the effectiveness reflection and response has had in Dunkelblau’s ESL classrooms, I definitely observe the importance of the exercise in all aspects of English. Dunkelblau didn’t start something new; she simply shared the activity as a way to get students involved in the text so that reading and reading comprehension grows within the ESL classroom. Overall, Dunkelblau setup her classroom in a way she felt would be effective to her students, while other classrooms may be different it is interesting to see a classroom model that has been shown to be successful.

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