Monday, June 15, 2009

What do kids get out of listening to an English picture book? Developing a questionnaire

At last, tomorrow the picture book pilot lessons will begin. Altogether we have conducted 2 workshops and held 2 separate meetings with teachers. I have also received some phone calls and e-mails from teachers asking for help with finding teaching materials or advice on their lesson plans. I am not sure how the lessons will go, but I can say that I have enjoyed very much working with the teachers. I think that English picture books are a great means to help children learn about language and culture but I now have a full appreciation of the time and effort necessary to make the use of English picture books possible at Japanese primary schools.

Over the past couple of years we have conducted numerous pilot lessons using picture books but this is the first time where we will be giving a questionnaire to the children. We are giving the questionnaire to find out the following:
  1. How many children were able to understand the story?
  2. How were the children able to understand the story?
  3. What did the children enjoy about the story?
  4. What kind of activities during the lesson did the children enjoy?
  5. What English words did the children feel they were able to learn?
  6. Did they learn anything new about the USA or Japan from listening to the story?
The questionnaire was written in Japanese by me. I then asked the elementary school teachers for their feedback. They gave me advice on how to reword the items so that the children could understand and recommended a could of additional items. After that a colleague of mine at the university rewrote the questionnaire. I showed it one more time to the teachers and they gave me their approval. This questionnaire will be given to children in grades 1 - 6 after their picture book lesson. I have just translated the questions to English for this blog but the questions do not seem to be as clear in English. Here are the questions and what I hope to find from each question:

1) Did you understand the story? (Students write a circle next to the answer they agree with)
a. I understood it well ( )
b. I understood it a little ( )
c. I did not understand it well ( )
d. I did not understand it at all ( )
  • What I want to find out: This is pretty straight forward, I want to find out how many children understood the story (or at least thought they understood it)
2)Did you try hard to understand the story?
a. I tried very hard      (  )
b. I tried a little        (  )
c. I did not try so hard    (  )
d. I did not try at all    (  )
  • What I want to find out: If children did not understand the story, I want to know if they made the effort to understand or if they just decided not to pay attention
3)How were you able to understand the story? Please write circle next to what was useful
a. The teacher’s facial expression when he/she was reading (  )
b. The teacher’s voice would change from loud to soft (  )
c. I heard words that I recognized       (  )
d. I would think about what would happen next while I was listening to the story(  )
e. The picture                       (  )
f. Asking the teachers questions              (  )
g. The teacher using Japanese               (  )
h. I did not understand the English but I could follow the story     (  )
i. The teacher’s talk before reading the book       (  )
j. Other: __________                   
  • What I want to find out: I want to know HOW the students were able to understand the story (What listening strategies they used).
4) Was the story interesting?
a. It was very interesting     (  )
b. It was a little interesting    (  )
c. It was not very interesting    (  )
d. It was not interesting at all   (  )

Why do you think so? Please write a reason below.
  • What I want to find out: This is pretty self-explanatory too. I want to know if the children found the story interesting. Four different types of books will be read and it will be interesting to find out which type of book captured the students' interest.
5)What was the most interesting part of the story? Please write it below.
  • What I want to find out:The particular part of the story that the children liked.
6)What did you enjoy most about today’s lesson?
  • What I want to find out: Did children like the pre or post-storytelling activities more than listening to the story or was it vice versa?
7)Did you learn any new English words today? If you did, please them below. You can use katakana to write the words. Do not worry about writing the words correctly.
  • What I want to find out: Were there any particular words that stuck in the children's heads?
8)Today, if you learned anything about the USA, please write it below.
  • What I want to find out: Three of the four books are from a previous project, Cross-cultural Understanding Using Picture Books. In this project the English picture books were used to teach about aspects of the US culture, so I am interested in knowing if children thought they were able to learn anything about the USA.
9)Today, did you learn anything about Japan? If so, please write it below.
  • What I want to find out: Part of cross-cultural learning is making discoveries about your own culture. People say that it is impossible to understand other cultures without understanding your own. So, I want to know if children were realized anything new about their own culture in this lesson.


Alex Case said...

It's a really nice idea to ask them their opinion in detail. It might also be good to give a similar questionnaire to students studying a more "traditional" lesson to be able to compare the two

JH said...

Thanks for always commenting on my blog.
If what you mean by "tradtional" is grammar translation, these children have not experienced it because their English lessons consist mostly of playing English games. In two years English activities will become compulsory for 5th and 6th graders and our thinking is that kids will get bored playing the same games each week. We hope that the picture books will add some variety to their lessons and also give the children exposure to meaningful, interesting content.

Alex Case said...

That would be even more interesting. I've recently come the conclusion that games are more motivating in terms of getting students to come back to class, but story books are many many times better as a way of teaching kids. Would love to hear what your conclusion is

JH said...

Hi Alex,
I am in the process of going over the questionnaires. We will have 2 more classes today. So far the picture books have been fairly well received, but kids love games. Unfortunately, a lot of times during the games they are speaking Japanese to their friends rather than using English.