Saturday 5 December 2009

Teaching Reading to ESL and EFL Students

Updated 18 February 2012

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Basic Tips
  • Sets of 3. Reading is usually broken down into three sections: before reading, while reading, and after reading.
  • Variety is the spice of life. Cut the reading up and having them order the paragraphs. Take out the headings or sub-headings. Ask them to give their opinion. Talk about three things they've learnt. Give them pictures about the story and have them order those.
  • Look online. There are lots of lesson plans and worksheets in the lesson planning link.
  • Make reading fun. Many children read bedtime stories. Reading should be fun. Remember that when planning your activities.
  • More ideas. Here are some more ways to teach your students reading.

Before Reading
  • Use visuals. Have them discuss the title and photos that go with the reading. Have students guess what it'll be about.
  • Applicable. Ask students to give their opinion on the subject of the text.
  • Daily. Make sure that students are reading a bit outside of class.

While Reading
  • Spot the mistake. Read aloud but make some mistakes. Have the students catch the mistakes.
  • Vary the reading style. Have them read quietly, aloud, alone, with partners, small groups, or listening to you / other students / the CD.
  • Be dramatic. Can you role play any parts of the reading? It'll make the reading come alive. It also gives a chance for active students or class clowns to participate in class.
  • Stop. Every once and a while stop and make sure the students understand what they just read. Ask them some questions or have them tell you what's going on in the reading.
  • Relate it to history. If the test has dates, ask students what was happening in the world at that time.

After Reading
  • Before and After. Have students talk about what they think happened before the text was written and what they think will happen.
  • Vocabulary. Look at the vocabulary words in detail.
  • Fix the mistakes. Give them sentences or a summary about the text. Make them find the factual mistakes and fix them.
  • Write a letter. Have students write a letter or email to a character in the story.
  • Rewrite the end. Students have to create a new ending to the story.
  • Interviews. Some people can be characters from the story and others can interview them.
  • General and Specific. Even if students haven't understood every detail, they should be able to answer some general questions about the reading. This will boost their confidence and make them realise that they have understood parts of it.
  • Grammar. Make connections with difficult grammar points or recent grammar structures that you've just introduced.
  • Extension Activities. Write a review, create a cover, make a comic, or a map can help students understand the reading more.

General Test Taking Tips
  • Read and follow all the instructions. It only takes a minute or two and can save you a lot of time.
  • Forget cramming. You should study a little every day. Don't try to learn everything the night before.
  • Eat breakfast. It's the most important meal of the day and is necessary to help you think.
  • Bring your materials. Have your pencils, erasers, watch, and ID ready the night before.
  • Go early. Traffic, rain, or a flat tire can happen on test days. Make sure you leave your house ahead of time so that you get to the class a few minutes before the test begins.
  • Pace yourself. Don't work too slowly or too quickly. If you've finished early, go back and check your answers.
  • Check your answers. Make sure you haven't made any simple mistakes.
  • Don't panic. It's just a test. The worst you can do is fail.

Specific Test Taking Tips for Reading
  • First and last. Read the first and last sentences of each paragraph. They usually contain the most important information.
  • Exact wording doesn't mean it's correct. Often in exams you will find exact words of phrases from the text in the answers.
  • They're in order. Questions are usually taken from the text in order. The answer to the first question can be found at the beginning and the answer to the last question can be found at the end.
  • You don't have to understand it all. Don't spend your time trying to figure out every word.
  • Use visuals. Use the title and photos to help you.


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