I love reading books and I try to encourage my students to read more often (but sadly they don’t). I enjoy reading books for both children and adults (I’ll never “grow up”, being an adult is boring!), and I Hate English, by Ellen Levine is one of my favorites (especially since I have taught ESL/EFL students).
If you haven’t read it, I highly recommend you do so! It’s perfect for encouraging ESL/ELL students to overcome their own fear and anxiety of learning and using English.
Mei Mei, an immigrant child from Hong Kong, loves New York City’s Chinatown, where she feels comfortable. There the sights and sounds are familiar, and everyone speaks Chinese, just like Mei Mei. In school, however, everyone speaks English, and though Mei Mei can learn it, she doesn’t want to. “Such a lonely language. Each letter stands alone and makes its own noise.” Afraid that she will forget Chinese, and that she will be changed by a language so different, one that even contains words (such as “covered wagon”) that don’t exist in Chinese, Mei Mei resists — until a caring teacher shows her that she can speak both languages and still be herself. (Source)
It’s a joyful, humorous, and encouraging story students can relate to! If you don’t have it in your classroom, I suggest you order a few copies of it (if possible) and read it aloud, or better yet, have your students read it aloud!
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