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ESL forum > Techniques and methods in Language Teaching > Teaching reading comprehension to efl students    

Teaching reading comprehension to efl students


Teaching reading comprehension to efl students
Good morning/evening dear colleagues,

I would be so grateful if you could instruct me how to teach reading comprehension to efl/esl secondary school students.

Thanks for your collaboraton

5 Dec 2012      


Hi: If I were you, I � d start by using the skill of  reading for gist or skimming that is reading to get just the main idea . So I suggest the following strategies to help them with the "hard task":
-Tell them to read the title and the subtitles
-Check what students already know on the topic.
- Tell them to read the first and last paragraphs of the text.
-Tell them to underline the key words in the first sentence of each paragraph
-Tell them to ignore initially the words that they don�t know
-Tell them to mark any new words important for understanding
-Tell them to identify the main ideas.
-Tell them to identify the subsidiary ideas.
Hope it �s useful for you . I�d appreciate if you told me how it�s going  (well, if you decide to put it into practice )

5 Dec 2012     


Hi educator2012,


Next time you have to work on a reading comprehension text (and let �s face it they are often at the beginning of each new unit in your book) try this method:

Give each student a blank A4 sheet of paper. This exercise is best done with the students sitting in a circle, but could be adapted as and when necessary. Put the title of the text on the board and get them to put it on the top of their sheet of paper. Tell them to imagine what the text is about and draw a line down the left hand side of the paper - just large enough for vocabulary.

Ask each student to write 12 words that they think will be in the text according to the title. When they have found their words tell them to pass their sheet on to the next person and they will collect the one from the other side. They now have to select 3 words from the list and in the right-hand column, write the first paragraph using these 3 words and adding (of course) anything in order to make the paragraph interesting. Tell them to cross out the words as they use them. They must not forget the title of the text, but will have to adapt each time because of the new words to use.

When they have finished their paragraph they pass on the sheets and do the same as before, take 3 words to make the second paragraph � pass on, take 3 words � write the last paragraph which could be the conclusion to the text.  They pass on their sheets for the last time and they read what they have in front of them � a text written by 4 people!!

Either you, the teacher, could correct the texts and leave them in the classroom for them to see later or get some of them to read �their� text out loud. I prefer the latter, even with their mistakes, they love it.  They are now ready and willing to read the text to find out if it has anything to do with theirs!

This has worked for years for me (in all levels) and we always have a good laugh because the texts have NOTHING to do with the one we are going to read, but it takes the boredom out of reading comprehension.

Let me know if you try it out and how it worked.


5 Dec 2012     

United Kingdom

@Janet - great idea.

5 Dec 2012