CIRCLES: APPROACHING TEXT IN TEACHING EFL

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Just as there are many ways to skin a cat, so there are many ways to approach a text in Teaching EFL in the classroom – and it doesn’t have to be so painful. Here we give you a different way of approaching and dealing with reading texts.

What are circles?

We’re sure you know what circles are. More specifically in this case we are talking about concentric circles. In other words, you need to arrange your students in two circles – one smaller one and one bigger one. The smaller circle sits within the bigger circle so that each student in the smaller circle will sit facing a student in the bigger circle.

How to use circles for a reading text in Teaching EFL

Circles work best in response to a text. What this means is that while learners do the reading and reading activities themselves, they discuss their answers in groups. The fact that they work with partners means that they are required to do the work in order to participate but they work in pairs so as to be able to feel comfortable participating.

Here is an example procedure:

  • Teacher hands out text.
  • Students do predictive tasks as a class.
  • Learners read the text individually.
  • Pupils complete comprehension questions individually.
  • Students are arranged in concentric circles.
  • Each pair of students discusses their answers to the questions.
  • Each student in the outer circle moves one chair to their left.
  • Teacher poses a response/discussion question.
  • Students discuss the question with their partner.
  • Each student in the outer circle moves one chair to their left.
  • Teacher poses a new response/discussion question.
  • Students discuss the new question with their partner.
  • This continues until all the response questions have been discussed.
  • Students quickly report back on their discussion questions as a class.

Dealing with reading texts can be labour-intensive and require a lot of concentration and individual work. As a result, students may not always be motivated to deal with reading texts. By using the circles activity, you introduce aspects of collaboration and participation, as well as an element of speaking. While the reading tasks are still done, the other aspects of the lesson help keep the lesson more lighthearted and less serious.

This activity works well with reading texts but can also be used for a range of other texts. Any other text which can incorporate discussion of some sort can utilise this circle activity. It helps to include different kinds of activities in your lessons so the circle activity can help you add interest into what could otherwise be dull lessons.

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