Published 27th April 2016

Teaching reading in an English as a Foreign Language classroom can be tricky because you are not only asking your students to respond to the text as whole i.e. in terms of its meaning, but there is also a need to focus on the language and how it may restrict access to comprehension or can be used as the basis for more learning.

As a rule of thumb, reading lessons can be divided into three sections: before reading, during reading and after reading. Here we look at a few simple activities for each of these stages which will help you make the most out of your reading lessons:

Pre-reading

  • Read the first line of the text to the students and ask them to predict the content and language they will find in the rest of the text.
  • Choose a few words from the text and give one set to half the class and the other set to the other half of the class. Each student must explain their keywords to their partners. Together they then predict the story from the keywords.
  • Provide visuals to act as a discussion related to the text (without the students realising they are talking about the text).
  • Get the students to come up with questions related to the topic of the text, which they then ask each other in groups. The questions can be anything. For example, if the text is about a football player, questions could be: How often do you play football? Is football popular in your country?

While reading

  • Divide the text in half. Each student only reads half the text and must work in pairs to construct the meaning of the whole text. This can be done by simply cutting the text in half or by cutting it at random places; which method is best will depend on the text.
  • Let the students come up with questions from the text which their partners must then answer.
  • Take out a number of sentences of the text. While they read the students must put them back in the correct place. This can also be done with words instead of sentences.

Post-reading

  • Let the students answer questions which will relate the text to the students’ lives.
  • The students can present a follow-up to the text – what happened next?
  • The students can write a letter to the editor letter commenting on the text.

Teaching reading doesn’t need to be a complicated process. If you break it down into these three stages (pre-, during and post-) you should find planning and executing a lesson plan easy.