Practicing reading skills is one of the cornerstones of language learning. They not only improve the overall language competence but also enhance the learners’ critical thinking, analytical skills and as a source of information.
In order to have a productive reading session the teacher must conduct the lesson following these stages:
- pre-reading — to prepare the learners for the reading activity, to set a context, familiarize them with the unknown vocabulary, arouse interest.
- while-reading — this is the main task the reading session is aimed at comprehension questions (True/False statements, skimming and scanning, etc.).
- post-reading — its aim is to understand the texts further through critical analysis of what they have read or to provide personalization.
This article aims at giving some practical guidance to teachers who are eager to have productive reading sessions.
One of the most important stages of any reading activity is the appropriate setting of the context, familiarization with the active vocabulary, getting to know how much the learners know about the topic. For this purpose, the following activities may be used,
- Crumpled papers: The teacher prints out the text which is going to be read and crumples it. He/she divides the class into groups and gives each group one crumpled version of the text. Students are not allowed to move the paper but they can move themselves trying to read some words, phrases, sentences. They take notes of whatever they are able to read and in a group discussion try to guess the main idea of the text.
- Corner Statements: The teacher prepares 4 sentences expressing opinions about the topic, then sticks them in 4 corners of the classroom. Students go and stand near the opinion they disagree with the most. The group explains why they disagree about the topic.
- Guessing from words or pictures: The teacher boards the keywords from a reading, students work in pairs or groups and try to guess the text. In the same way, the pairs or groups may be given some topic-related pictures and they need to give the main idea of the text.
- Sound effects: The teacher plays on some sound effect related to the reading and students are asked to guess the topic by giving the associations which came to them while listening to those sounds.
- Positive or Negative words: The teacher divides the class into two groups and gives two sets of different words taken out from the text. One group is given words with a positive connotation, the second group needs to deal with negative connotation words. They need to guess the story having in mind those words. As a result, the class comes up with two totally different versions of the same text.
- KWL Charts: Ask students to write everything they know about the topic (K column) and everything they want to know (W column) and what they learned after the reading (L Column). K and W aspects can be practiced as pre-reading activities.
They help students to focus on aspects of the text and to understand it better. The goal of these activities is to help learners to deal with the text as if it was written in their mother tongue.
- Topic Sentences: Each paragraph stands for one main idea. Students are asked to find the topic sentence and explain how it describes the whole reading passage and the given paragraph.
- Guessings: Read the text (skimming the text for general information) to see if the guessings and predictions are met.
- Scanning: Students look for specific information from the text. Learners may be also asked to write comprehension questions for their peers.
These activities mainly aim at integrating the target material into the real-life and personalized practice in order to keep the authentic use of the language, make the learners feel that whatever they learn they turn into real-life experience in terms of language use.
- Discussions: Learners are divided into groups and are given a set of text-related questions to discuss. Questions may be about some characters, their behaviour, how the text has interested the students, what they have learned from it, etc.
- Story Continuation: Students may be given some time to think and come up with the continuation of the story. They may change some traits of the main characters and imagine how the text would proceed to take into account those changes.
- Statements: Students are given statements about the reading topic, they work in pairs and discuss them.
Considering the utmost importance of reading skill in language learning, all the above-mentioned activities can serve as nice tools to hone the learners’ reading skills.
You can look at some more interesting ideas and useful resources here.