A new book by Thomas Flintham just arrived in my postbox.
The first thing to strike a reader is the bright colours and simple, funny illustrations. Inside, each double-page spread shows a group of farm and wild animals, speaking in their language. There’s a two line rhyme, which is well-supported by the visuals – great for lower levels. Through the day, the different animals gallop, chew, have fun, snack, and fly, until dusk, when Puppy puts them all to bed.
So an initial fear that I would have – as I teach learners in a diverse range of countries – is of course that animal languages are not the same in every culture. In Korea, for example, cats say “yaong yaong.” The book is great though, and I am determined to use it with my 6 and 7-year-olds, who are currently in their first year of real school. I would first explore the Korean sounds with the learners, asking them, “What does a dog say?” I’d then follow this up with a world map on a flipchart and a little cat. Moving the cat from Korea to the UK, I’d say, “Yaong yaong. Miaow miaow.” This could of course also be done with a world map on the wall, and animal stick puppets. Linking the different languages to different countries is a good way for learners to start to think outside their own small space, towards a more global understanding.
The verses themselves are reasonable simple with some verbs (e.g. chew and call) being repeated a couple of times.
Ideally, I think that in an English-speaking classroom, this book would go down a storm with preschoolers. In the Asian EFL context, I’ll definitely be using it with my preschool and early primary learners – in Korea, that means 5 to 8-year-olds. Clearly different activities would be used for the different age groups.
- Children cut out animal pictures and glue them onto a blank farmyard, then match speech bubbles to the animals. Higher level learners could also write out the animal words.
- Children make stick puppets and read along with the book, ‘acting’ out with their stick puppets.
- Higher level classes could use the excellent rhymes as a model for creating their own two-line rhymes about other animals.
- Classes could make a class poster showing the different animal languages in two or more countries.
The book is available here.
Let me know if you use it, and how!
*This book was sent to me to review, although all opinions in this post are entirely my own, and I have not been paid to write a positive review.