A student teacher’s journey with picturebooks

Activity: Talk or presentationOral presentation


Storytelling, as an approach to teaching early EFL, is recommended with an onus on the inclusion of children’s literature in the form of picturebooks affording ‘high-quality input’ (Bland, 2019: 87) and a potential for language learning which moves beyond a focus on the language, but instead to develop learners’ literary literacies and value the picturebook as object (Mourão, 2016). However, a recent nationwide study in Portugal, investigating study plans for the MA in TEYLs, highlighted the small number of curricular units (CU) overtly contributing to developing competences associated with selecting, using and mediating children’s literature, and picturebooks in particular. The MA, which is the context for this presentation, does not have a CU for children’s literature, instead regular encounters with picturebooks, accompanied with conversations around their potential and subsequent reflection around these encounters, are included in a CU on methodologies for teaching YLs.

My intention in this case study is to document the impact this approach to teaching children’s literature had on one particular student teacher, Paula. I will describe how Paula encountered and reflected upon this experience with picturebooks during the CU on methodologies, and later went on to undertake a small piece of action research focusing on picturebooks during her teaching practicum. My wish is to highlight ‘instances of learning’ (Halbach, 2016: 58) during the move from theory into practice. Data will come from Paula’s portfolio reflections, our email correspondence over two years, tutorial summaries and my reflections, an interview transcription, and excerpts from Paula’s final MA report. Through her multiple discoveries and realizations, I will document Paula’s learning and show how she was able to successfully integrate theory into practice, reflect on this and develop the relevant competencies associated with teaching English with picturebooks. I will conclude with thoughts on study plans which omit a focus on children’s literature in early language learning.

Bland, J. (2019). Teaching English to young learners: More teacher education and more children’s literature! Children’s Literature in English Language Education Journal, 7(2), 79-103.
Halbach, A. (2016). Empowering teachers, triggering change: A case study of teacher training through action research. ESE-Estudios Sobre Educacion, 31, 57-73.
Mourão, S. (2016). Picturebooks in the Primary EFL Classroom: Authentic Literature for an Authentic Response. Children’s Literature in English Language Education Journal, 4(1), 25-43.
Period13 Nov 2020
Event titleTeachers and teacher educators:
Education and professional development for early language learning
Event typeConference
Conference numberAILA ELL ReN 4
LocationLisbon, PortugalShow on map
Degree of RecognitionInternational


  • Teacher education
  • case study
  • picturebooks
  • action research