To better prepare pre-service English teachers to support children who have difficulty reading English, the Department of English Language Education (ELE) of The Education University of Hong Kong (EdUHK) launched a Teaching Department Grants Project, titled “Hooking Struggling Readers with Books They CAN and WANT to Read: Teacher-made Ebooks”. Twenty-seven prospective English teachers currently studying at EdUHK were recruited to explore the use of teacher-made e-books in two local primary schools last summer. Thirty-eight primary one pupils who were identified by their schools as struggling with English as a second language (ESL) were invited to join the trial reading sessions, which incorporated the e-books created by the recruited prospective teachers.
After attending a series of workshops and other training, the recruited students collaborated in small groups to develop their e-books and lesson plans with guidance from the project supervisors throughout the process. Through creating e-books and using them in trial lessons, the recruited students actively explored new ways to teach reading to young ESL learners, especially to those who have difficulty learning to read.
The trial lessons were well-received by the school pupils. In interviews with the school pupils, many said that reading no longer felt ‘labourious’ because of the supportive features provided in the e-books, which increased their reading enjoyment and motivation. A majority of the pupils said they enjoyed personalising the e-books by adding their own audio narration, sound effects or short videos. In particular, 86.3% of the pupils reported that they enjoyed recording new audio narration for the e-books. This is an excellent example of how technology can help make the reading experience more enjoyable in ways that traditional print books cannot.