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ESL forum > Techniques and methods in Language Teaching > Teaching Reading    

Teaching Reading


Teaching Reading
Hey there ,
I am Teaching English as a second language and the main problem is teaching "Reading Comprehension". It �s a very boring task to do in class (esp. if you keep explaining words) and students really do not like it and they dont read at home before hand. I tried all the methods like chuncking, working in groups, focusing on the paragraph �s structure or linking words or even curing and eliciting before reading in vain ! what I have came up with is bringing very easy materials from home to read with a very easy vocabulary and a reasonable lenght; however, I have a programme to abide by and they need to read what they have in their TB which is too long and too difficulte and boring ( big topics ) ! please, any ideas to save my life?! I am desperate ! :( 
thank you in advance ! 

16 Nov 2015      

United Kingdom

I really sympathise - it �s not a happy place to be when the materials that you have to use are not appropriate for the students.I still remember having to teach a text entitled �The Importance of Well-Kept Mountains � to a bunch of 14 year olds. O.O
You seem to have tried a lot of the things that I would suggest. It sounds like one of the key problems is that the students are not prepared to do the preparation work. Of course it would be nice if it was possible to motivate them to do this but I realise that �s often hard, especially if the texts seem to them to be too difficult and too boring.
All I can suggest is this:
-students will pick up on your own (often subconscious) signals; if it seems to them that you think the texts are not appropriate, they will see that are react negatively to the texts, so you may have to be a bit of an actor, like many of us are in the classroom
- see if you can find some new form of inducement or pressure to get the students to do their preparation
- use short timed tasks where they feel they are competing not just against other groups, but against the clock
- there �s a distinction between the text and the task; you may be able to apply easier and more interesting tasks, even if the text is very dense
- don �t feel that you have to explain every fact and every unknown word; encourage them to identify what is key and what is useful
- try reading a summarised translation of the text to them in their own language (if that �s possible?) before you do any work on the text and this may reduce their instinct to give up from the beginning
 I think techniques will only get you so far with this problem, which is really about the mis-match between their motivation and skills on the one hand, and the material on the other. But perhaps you can try some other activities. Some links I found quickly:
I hope you �re able to resolve your problem and wish you the best of luck. We are all rooting for you!

16 Nov 2015     


Hi T-sa
i really do understand the  toughest moments you are undergoing in teaching your students. i am sure that you have tried a panel of strategies and techniques just to make your lessons successful and your students well-integrated.
Nevertheless you needn �t bother yourself with using a lots of techniques in reading skills. to make your students effortlessly involved in the teaching process, use Scaffolding technique. it is a technique that helps students understand difficult lexical items contextually. you can pick up  less than 10 words from the reading comprehension you are using and preteach them using visual aids available or through gestures, or facial expressions, all work. then explain and push students to come up with examples in complete sentences, either orally or by writing.  in so doing, you may guide them towards having a clear idea of the topic that is discussed in the text. 
by the way scaffolding technique can be applicable to other language skills including grammar.
wish you good luck 

16 Nov 2015     


Dear T-sa, 
I totally agree with Tapioka. You have to find the things you like in the text, adapt the text the way you like it and the students will pick up your enthusiasm. 
If I don �t like the text in the text book, I adapt the tasks, exercises, I try to find some videos related to the topics, I prepare bingo, hangman and other games to pre-teach or to revise the vocabulary. When I prepare exercises, I use pictures to make them more attractive. You can use songs with related vocabulary to boost your students � interest. 
I had quite a long text about Charles Darwin, so I prepared a lot of short exercises but instead of printing them on the handout as usual, I cut them up, made different stations (called islands) in the classroom and put different tasks / exercises on each island.
The game was called the island conquerors. Students moved from one island to other to do the exercises, solve the problems, puzzles, crosswords, matched the words, etc. At the end of the exercise, it said: Well done! You have conquered this island! Move to the island _____. Better students can do more exercises and students with lower abilities have enough time to concentrate on the exercise they are doing at that moment. 
Of course, you have to adapt the text and the exercises to your students (age, level) and their interests.
In one of my classes I used James Bond inspired game. Each task / exercise was called an assignment and had an assignment code.
For example assignement code name: GAME OVER  
Your assignment  is to find out what went wrong during the last mission. Speculate about the possible reasons and their consequences. Rewrite the sentences using modal verbs of deduction.
After the students have finished the task, the instruction said:
You have successfully completed your assignment.
Your next assignment is: WINDSTONE.
I have prepared more than 20 exercises, each with special instructions and mysterious code name.
Students had a lot of fun although the text was quite boring.
But it was hard work preparing all the activities and instructions. 
All the best,

16 Nov 2015     


Hi T-sa
When I teach academic reading to my young adults and the text is mundane, I try to use an appropriate discussion topic from here to get the students into the mood and ease them into the lesson.  There are heaps of topics to choose from and as they are in Word you can amend them (change/remove/reduce) to suit your needs. The students learn a lot of vocabulary from each other when they do this.  Maybe you could try it?

16 Nov 2015