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Teaching Activities: Reading

Reading is a vital skill required to develop students understanding of the English language. It’s really important that you get your students reading as soon as possible because this is a skill that will prove integral to their everyday lives should they ever choose to live in an English speaking environment. For example, if a student is travelling in another country they may need to be able to read a timetable, a road sign or even the instructions for their new bicycle.

Students will need to develop a plethora of skills including understanding the key concepts of a piece of literature and effectively scanning their text (finding appropriate information without in-depth reading).

When choosing practice texts try to choose topics which students are already interested in.

General reading activities:

When teaching students to read English you will still need to ensure that student talk time is high. Activities are a great way to do this and they will help you to work out how much students have understood from the text they have been reading.

  • Do-it-yourself question – can be done in groups or pairs. Students write comprehension questions for other students to answer.
  • Come up with a title for a story.
  • Summarise a story.
  • Continue the story – students offer suggestions as to what happens next.
  • Preface to the story – students offer suggestions as to what happened before the story began.
  • Revision – students are given the pictures from a storyboard of the text and have to put them in order.
  • Fill in the gap – students are given a text with certain words missing and have to fill them in appropriately.
  • Correct mistakes – students are given two texts and through asking each other questions they identify and correct any mistakes.
  • Discussion about themes present in the text.

Additional pre-reading activities:

When reading a text with your class it’s usually a good idea to do one or more pre-reading activities to get their attention and raise their interest. This will ensure that your students are interested in the reading exercise and it will also give you the opportunity to introduce them to new vocabulary that will help them understand the text better.

  • Give the students the title of the text you are going to be looking at and let them suggest ideas as to what will happen in the story.
  • Rearrange the words in the title of a text for your students to put back into the correct order.
  • Pre-teach necessary vocabulary, if you are working with new or particularly difficult language, to help students understand the text.

Additional activities to be carried out during the reading of text:

Asking students to simply read the text is often much less effective than working through the text with your students. In some cultures when faced with something they don’t know, be it a word or a tense, they will just stop and it’s important that you pick up on this as quickly as possible so you don’t waste any time. Using activities as you read through the text is a good way of doing this.

  • Rearrange paragraphs or sentences of the text for students to put back in the correct order.
  • Give the students pictures of events in the story which students put in order as they read the text.
  • Give the students a text containing deliberate mistakes for the students to identify.
  • Omit words in a text, giving the students a list of words with which to fill in the gaps.
  • Replace certain words with a picture to help students work out what the missing word is.

Additional post-reading activities:

You should always follow up your reading activities with a post-reading activity. This will give students the opportunity to practice their reading and will reiterate what you have taught them in the lesson. Most importantly, however, it will give the exercise a sense of meaning so that your students feel they have achieved something.

  • Students create tasks such as filling in the gaps, for other students.
  • Students write a letter from, or a conversation between characters in the text.
  • Students each assume a role of a character in the text and act out all or part of the text.