In my very first year as an ESL teacher, the student teacher in my class taught a theme about castles. We have quite a few castles here in The Netherlands, so I was quite interested. That’s when she showed me the book she used as her basis: See Inside Castles.
I perused the book, captivated by the colorful, detailed illustrations, the readable bits of text, and the child-friendly layout. But what really got my attention was the back cover. It was here that I found a concept I’d never seen before, but would be sure to use in the years to come: the internet-linked book.
At home that evening, I looked up more information about this concept. A quick google check showed more than 2,000,000 hits – all of them belonging to Usborne publishers. Not only that, but Usborne had already linked hundreds of books to the internet, and was going to be linking more books to the internet in the years to come.
I continued my search for information, surfing through a number of sites I knew the children would love to visit, and decided that these books were going to be my new best friend for my CLIL lessons. CLIL is, in short, content and language integrated learning, a.k.a. learning in English, not necessarily about English.
An internet-linked book is – generally – a non-fiction book in which one finds a link to the Usborne quicklink site. Once there, the visitor types in the so-called “key words” (usually the title of the book). After that, the visitor is guided to a series of internet sites that are:
- in English
- age appropriate
- interesting and/or fun
- easy to use
For instance, if we have a lesson about wild animals, I pull out the books on sharks, snakes, tigers, and dolphins, and check the quicklinks attached to each book. Usually, these links provide a nice way to introduce the lesson, along with some useful learning activities for the children. For the children, when they have to do a presentation, it’s easy for them to choose one of these books as their basis, striking out into the quicklinks for extra information.
Since my discovery, I have gotten my hands on dozens of Usborne non-fiction books, from books about dinosaurs to dogs, from China to Diwali, from firefighters to fishing. The books are leveled into easy (Beginner series) and intermediate (Starting series), and the children really enjoy reading them! And I for one, really enjoy using them in my classroom.
Please note: more information about Usborne quicklinks is available at the following site: http://www.usborne.com/quicklinks/eng/default.aspx