This article reports on a study in which, for five weeks, the English lessons of two classes of 11–12 year olds in Sweden were based on Roald Dahl’s Fantastic Mr Fox. To promote the learners’ engagement with the text, support understanding, and facilitate incidental vocabulary acquisition, a range of language-focused tasks were designed within the framework of the Storyline approach. In Storyline, a fictive world is created in the classroom. The story develops when learners, working in the same small groups, collaborate on open so-called key questions, which structure the Storyline, introduce happenings and problems, and link with the syllabus. Another characteristic is the integration of practical and theoretical subject content. Learners’ art work and texts are displayed on a frieze, or walls of the classroom, creating a visual record of the developing story. The study also investigated the influence on learning of the book’s illustrations, and the learners’ own drawings. The majority of the learners made gains in vocabulary, as evidenced in pre- and post-tests, writing and speaking tasks. While some learners had never thought about illustrations and drawings as a support, for many, both of these were found to be helpful.
Swedish Standard Keywords
- Pedagogy (50301)
- Learning (50303)
- children’s fiction
- young second language learners