Easy reading skills class for almost any text

Sometimes students find it really difficult to engage with reading texts. The mainstream textbooks have generally done a good job curating a range of texts on a wide array of subjects, but sometimes you just can’t find what you want. Sometimes, students just don’t feel motivated to pore over a text, and that’s that.

So I’ve come up with a template for those times when you want students to take a little more responsibility for their reading skills, or when you can’t quite find exactly what you need.

Its something I normally use with higher level classes (B1 and above), especially those thinking of exams.

Materials required:

  • a device with Internet access (students could bring a text in from home)
  • that’s it!

This is definitely a class that promotes learner autonomy, as it essentially hands over control of the material to the students themselves.

  1. Start with a discussion about what your learners find difficult or problematic about reading. Ask students how much English they read outside of class, what sort of texts they read, where they find texts, etc.
  2. Choose a website or selection of websites for students to browse. BBC, Guardian, and other news sites work very well for this.
  3. Tell students to find an article they like the look of and to go to the story.
  4. Students read the headline and write a short sentence saying what they expect the story to be about. Students then read the first paragraph and check their predictions.
  5. Students now think of what they would like to find out from the rest of the text. Ask students to think of 5 things that they want to know. Students read the rest of the text and try to find the information they want – if they can’t answer their questions, what else did they learn?
  6. Students then write one or two sentences summarising the whole text.
  7. Finally, students look up any unknown vocabulary from the text.

This is the basic plan, but there are extensions that I work into it.

For example, students can write comprehension questions about the text for their partner to answer.

In addition, you could get each student to present the main ideas of their text to the class, including teaching the new vocabulary.

What do you think? What kinds of reading skills classes do you use?

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