Storybooks Canada, English Language Learners, and the School Curriculum
Keywords:English Language Learners, Digital Storybooks, Dual-Language Books
Given the large number of students from immigrant and refugee backgrounds in Canadian schools, our study investigates to what extent an open access multilingual digital platform, Storybooks Canada (https://www.storybookscanada.ca/), might serve the interests of elementary school English language learners. Our study drew on insights from 13 experienced language tutors across greater Vancouver, each volunteering for a local organization in an after-school program for multilingual learners. We sought to determine how the diverse stories on the Storybooks Canada platform could be used in classrooms and homes in British Columbia and Canada. We investigated a range of questions, including the following: Is Storybooks Canada a helpful resource to improve student reading? Can Storybooks Canada be used to build home/school partnerships? How can the stories be used within the British Columbia Curriculum? We then did a follow-up study of British Columbia’s English Language Arts curriculum in order to align the stories with curricular mandates. Our findings suggest that, given the universal themes of the stories, and the 18 languages available in text and audio, Storybooks Canada is a valuable tool for the maintenance of the first language, while supporting English language learning. Further, links between the stories and the British Columbia Curriculum may be helpful for teachers within and beyond British Columbia. We conclude with the hope that Storybooks Canada, and other derivative sites on the Global Storybooks portal (https://globalstorybooks.net), might support English language learners in Canada and the international community.
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