English - Cleaning up language

11th January 2013 at 00:00

What it's all about

Back in the 1990s, British schools asked pupils to donate their old books to the schoolchildren of Albania. Under the communist regime of Enver Hoxha, children had not been allowed to have books or toys, so there was unimaginable delight when more than 60,000 books were donated, writes Barbara Meinel.

The government set up a library which became incredibly popular. But over the years many of the books were dispersed, stored poorly or lost.

So it was with some trepidation that I awaited the arrival of 12,000 mouldy books that had been bought for less than five pence each by the international school where I work in Tirana, the capital of Albania.

Cleaning them was a potential nightmare, but the boost they offered to my young pupils' English language learning was fantastic.

Many had greetings lovingly inscribed inside by the UK children who donated them. I read the messages to my pupils, most of whom were learning English for the first time.

We are writing to some of these children to thank them and tell them about our life here in Albania. Most will be much older now but it would be fun to contact them and perhaps, one day, we could meet.

We have now cleaned almost all of the 12,000 books and catalogued the authors and titles. Typing up the lists for printing was like scaling a mountain and finally reaching the top.

What else?

Rene Talliard has shared an activity book to help pupils show they understand the stories they read. bit.lytesReadingResponse

Teachers share tips on how to encourage pupils to read in this Teachers TV video. bit.lyExciteToRead.

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