Naga Chokkanathan

Language Books

Posted on: June 28, 2014

Met someone who is using kids’ books to learn Tamil. She knows the alphabets, uses them to learn reading fluently. It is the fun way to learn a language: colorful pictures, lovely stories…

She had few specific comments / possible improvements which may apply to most kids’ books in Tamil or other regional languages. Wanted to document them here.

First, Sentences and words have to be short (at least in level 1 and 2). Typically it takes a minute for them to read a 5 word sentence. If it is a long sentence with many words, by the time the statement is over, she forgets the beginning.

To help in learning, sentences are to be short, so that they can see it as a whole, understand and then move on.

As the levels go up, words / sentences can get complex. At every level, give the personal satisfaction to reader that “I read it myself.”

If the story has to be tweaked to make this, or the story itself is too small / just an incident, it is okay. Story or twists don’t matter, It is “Reading” that matters to them.

So, there has to be difference between “story books” and simply “reading books”. It can be mentioned in the book wrapper itself.

On “Reading” books, choose another language (say English) and give meanings of difficult words in each page / as an index.

This helps them review what they read / learnt in that book. On every “Reading” book, give full alphabet chart with pronunciation for recap.

In general, I guess we need to write many “reading” books for kids / adult learners. From “Apple, Ball”, they should get to “Apple is round. Ball is blue” stage. That satisfaction will make them learn further.


N. Chokkan …
28 06 2014


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