Have you ever felt the need to move beyond the one-off news article reading lessons?
Have you tried to squeeze readers – either original stories written for learners or adaptations of well-known books – in your class syllabus?
If the answer to the question above is yes, have you had the chance to exploit the material at length?
I particularly love reading and have attempted to include fiction – especially readers - in my classes.
The feeling I usually get is that I’m overlooking the material, asking learners about the characters, the plot, their personal impression but without really finding the time to work on the book in depth.
Mini-fiction is another tool we have at hand to provide learners with the opportunity to read for pleasure in the classroom and to give teachers the chance to exploit the material fully - concentrating on both content and form within a tight schedule.
So what’s mini-fiction?
It’s a new form of writing found under many names; flash fiction, sudden fiction, nanofiction, microfiction or the short short story. All of these have one thing in common: their extreme brevity, minifiction´s defining characteristic.
Other features which characterise mini-fiction are:
ü intertextuality (an author’s borrowing and transformation of a prior text or a reader’s referencing of one text in reading another)
ü implicit meaning
ü humour and irony
ü memorable quality
ü abrupt beginning
ü unexpected ending
How can we use mini-fiction in the classroom?
Like with any other written text you’ve dealt with in class, you can engage your students in:
ü Pre-reading tasks: predictions based on the title/pictures/first line, discussion about the topic, raising awareness about the author, feeding students information about the author
ü While-reading tasks: skimming (activities designed to find out the gist – general information – for example questions/true or false/gaps) and scanning (reading quickly through the text with a more definite purpose or to find specific pieces of information. E.g – timetables, names, dates, the order action takes place, pieces of vocabulary and grammar)
ü After reading tasks: drawing conclusions about the story, discussing the best part of the story, talking about the best character, writing a review, retelling, discussing intertextuality in the short short story, role-plays, etc.
In short, minifiction may give both teachers and students a sense of achievement out of reading a story which is original and fun and whose length makes it simple to focus on both the storyline and specific language items.
If you’re interested in reading a little bit more about this type of fiction and getting stories to use in class, you may like:
Georgina Hudson blogs by Georgina Hudson are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License