Published 21st October 2015

When teaching a reading lesson it is easy to assume that there are no activities involved, that all the students do is read. It’s not that simple, though, and there are a load of activities and things you can do to make your reading lessons more interactive, communicative and fun. Here are just a few examples:

  • Gap reading. This is a technique used in many coursebooks and it is useful to remember when dealing with other reading material. Basically, divide the text into different parts and assign each part to a different member of a group – usually this is done in pairs or threes. In other words, each student is reading a different part of the text. When they have finished reading their part, they explain what they have read to their partners in order to construct the entire text.
  • Prediction. Before giving out the text, spend some time discussing the topic of the text. You can create discussion questions for the students, or get them to come up with the questions; you can brainstorm the topic; or you can use visuals to elicit discussion around the topic. In this way the students are preparing themselves for what they are going to read and at the same time engaging with the topic on a personal level before they have even started reading. 
  • Two Texts. For this activity you will need to do a little bit of preparation. Before the lesson, produce another version of the text which contains several discrepancies to the first. Pair the students up, let them read the different versions and when they are done they need to find out what the differences are. If you don’t tell them they have different versions but ask them to recap what they read together, they should realise they have different information. When they have found all the differences (kind of like a Spot the Difference picture), they must then decide which is the true text.
  • Flipping. A completely different option is to let the students do the reading at home. Many students believe that reading during class is a waste of time so sometimes it can be good to let them rather spend time on reading at home. The reading can be done before or after the lesson i.e. for preparation or for homework. What the lesson then involves is discussing any language that is in the text or creating a discussion class based on the text.

Reading lessons do not only have to involve reading. While there are always pre-reading and post-reading tasks, it can also be useful to consider alternatives to individual reading. Working together with a text provides a way to tackle a reading text from another angle and will provide variety to your lessons.