Developing language skills in second language learners through literature discussions

Ruth K. A Devlin, University of Nevada, Las Vegas


This study analyzed book discussions of primary aged ESL students and their teacher to examine the benefits to language development. Collected over one school year, data included transcribed audiotapes of the book discussions, class interviews, and personal journal entries of the teacher which described classroom events and interactions. Analysis of the transcripts resulted in the identification of seven categories which illustrated the diversity of types of talk. In addition, changes in the amount of student and teacher talk over time were noted, with student talk increasing, and teacher talk becoming less pronounced. Four students were highlighted to illustrate the benefits of picture book discussions for different English proficiency levels. Finally, the role of the teacher in these discussions was explored. Several benefits of discussing picture books with ESL students are suggested in terms of their importance for language development.