How to teach reading

How to Teach
Why Teach Reading?
1. What is your response to the following
a What reasons are there for getting
students to read texts in English?
b What different elements of English can
students study in a reading text?
2. Complete the following sentences.
a When I learnt a foreign language reading
b I think reading in the foreign language
classroom is …
c Students need to learn how to read…
B What kind of reading should students do?
Authentic materials appropriate for
beginner/elementary students
When reading in class, students should only
be given texts which are authentic.
C What reading skills should students acquire?
Scanning (searching a text quickly for specific
Skimming (reading a text quickly to get the general
Reading for detailed information
Reading for pleasure
D What are the principles behind the teaching of
1. What would you expect to get out of a good
reading text
a as a teacher? b as a students?
2. What have the following concepts got to do with
using reading texts?
active skill appropiate tasks engagement
exploitation prediction response to content
E What do reading sequences look like?
1. Look at the reading text and complete the
tasks which follow it.
Your Sleep and You
Miriam Kellaway Reports
How much beauty sleep do you need?
According to Philip Sedgewick, research
fellow at the Sleep Disorders Clinic at the
Department of Mental Health at St.
George Hospital, most of us need roughly
eight hours a night if we want to stay
healthy. And we need to have a regular
routine too.
Problems for tired people:
●More chance of bugs(小毛病) and infections
● Shift workers (people who work at different
times of day and night) get more infectious
diseases than the rest of us。
● More chance of stress
● More need for energy food like chocolate,
coffee, etc. Students in the USA say tiredness
causes overeating. In a survey of hospital
nurses across the country, ninety percent of
those working on the night shif gained weight.
● Irritablity, grumpness(抱怨)
Canadian sleep researcher Harvey Modofsky, at
the Toronto Western Hospital took blood from
sleeping people and he found that sleeping
bodies were fighting infection better than those
that were awake and in a recent study of 9, 000
adults in the UK those who slept between six
and a half and eight and a half hours a night
were more healthy than those who slept less.
REM stands for Rapid Eye Movement. That’s the
time we dream, when we sort out all the
memories, thoughts and feelings in our head.
Non-REM is often called Deep Sleep.
Without REM people become forgetful, irritable
and less able to concentrate.
Deep sleep provides us with physical and mental
Things not to do in bed (accrding to sleep experts):
Watch television
Drink caffeine
Smoke cigarettes
Have alcohol (it interferes with REM sleep. It can make you
tired and irritable the morning after the night before).
A .What level do you think it might be suitable for?
B. What kind of comprehension tasks could you do
with it?
C. How would you get students Engaged with the
topic of the text?
D. What language, if any, would you focus the
students’ attention on in the reading text for a
Study exercise?
2. Can you think of answers to these reading-related
A. What kind of Engage activity would you use before
students have about rock music?
B. What follow-up activity might you use after your
intermediate students have read a text about animal
C. Where would you look for authentic reading materials for
your beginner students? What would they be able to
cope with?
D. Write a mock car advertisement as a reading text for
beginner students.
How easy is it? What problems did you have doing it?
What are the principles behind the teaching of reading?
Principle 1: Reading is not a passive skill
Reading is a incredibly active occupation. To do it
successfully, we have to understand what the words
mean, see the picturethat the words are painting,
understand the arguments, and work out if we agree with
them. If we do not do these things—and if students do
not do these things—then we only just scratch the
surface of the text and we quickly forget it.
Principle 2: Students need to be engaged with
what they are reading.
As with everything else in lessons, students who
are not engaged with the reading—not actively
interested in what they are doing—are less likely
to benefit from it. When they are really fired up
by the topic or the task, they get much more
from what is in front of them.
Principle 3: Students should be encouraged to
respond to the content of a reading text, not just
to the language.
Of course, it is important to study reading texts
for the way they use language, the number of
paragraphs they contain and how many times
they use relative clauses. But the meaning, the
message of the text, is just as important and we
must give students a chance to respond to that
message in some way. It is especially important
that they should be allowed to express their
feelings about the topic—thus provoking
personal engagement with it and the language.
Principle 4: Prediction is a major factor in
When we read texts in our own language, we
frequently have a good idea of the content
before we actually read. Book covers give us a
hint of what’s in the book, photographs and
headlines hint at what articles are about and
reports look like reports before we read a single
The moment we get this hint—the book cover, the
headlines, the word-processed page—our brain
starts predicting what we are going to read.
Expectations are set up and the the active
process of reading is ready to begin. Teachers
should give students “hints” so that they can
predict what’s coming too. It will make them
better and more engaged readers.
Principle 5: Match the task to the topic
We could give studnets Hamlets’ famous
soliloquy “To be or not to be” and ask them
to say how many times the infinitive is
used. We could give them a restaurant
menu and ask them to list the ingredients
alphabetically. There might be reasons for
both tasks, but, on the face of it, they look
a bit silly. We will probably be more
intersted in what Hamlet means and what
the menu foods actually are.
Once a dcision has been taken about what
reading text the students are going to read, we
need to choose good reading tasks—the right
kind of questions, egaging and useful puzzles,
etc. The most interesting text can be
undermined by asking boring and inapproriate
question; the most commonplace passage can
be made really exciting with imaginative and
challenging tasks.
Priciple 6: Good teachers exploit reading texts to
the full.
Any reading text is full of sentences, words,
ideas, descriptions, etc. It doesn’t make sense
just to get students to read it and then drop it to
move on to something else. Good teachers
integrate the reading text into interesting class
sequence, using the topic for discussion and
further tasks, using the language for Study and
later Activation(激活).
What do reading sequences look
In the following 4 examples, we are going
to look four different kinds of reading texts
and four different kinds of reading tasks. In
each case we will see how the reading text
fits into an ESA(Engage,Study, Activate)
Example 1(elementary)
In the first example for elementary, the teacher has
introduced the topic of “attraction”. He asks the
students what they find attraction in a person.
With luck, the discussion of the topic should be
enjoyable and amusing.
He then tells the studnets they have to fill in the
following chart about what their partner thinks is
important when he or she meets a new friend.
Very important
Job or education
Money and
Personality or
Not very important
The students now have to list the qualities in
order of importance for them as a whole class.
The teacher then tells the class to read the text
on the next page to see how their opinions are
different from the men and women being
When the students have read the text, the
teacher allows them to discuss their answers in
pairs, This is to give them a chance to clear up
any small comprehension problems before they
talk in front of the class.
The students now have to complete the following
Read the first part of the article again. Use
these words to answer the questions
 eyes legs face smile figure teath
 Which do men think are most important?
 Which do women think are most important?
 Do you agree?
The Main Attraction
Suddenly it happens. You just know he’s the
man for you, and you haven’t even been
introduced yet. But how do you know? And
can you make sure he feels the same way?
Company investigate…
What first attracts men to women? Whereas
women tend to notice the eyes, teeth and smile
in particular, men will be more likely to assess
the face in general and pay more attention to
figure and legs.
According to a recent survey by Singles magazine,
these are the top ten attributes that men and
women look for in each other, in order of priority.
Men look for a woman who is:
A non-smoker
With a sense of humor
Women look for a man who is:
With a sense of humor
Attractive(not necessarily handsome)
As a follow-up to these reading tasks, the
teacher asks the students to think of
people who they find attractive (friends,
film stars, athlets, etc.). They are then
asked to say what the most attractive thing
about them is. The discussion can lead on
to descriptive writing, etc.
Notice that this patchwork lesson(补缀模式)
started with an Engage activity, them went
on to an Activate exercise (working with a
partner), followed by an Active reading (do
you agree with the passage?), a Study
reading (answer the questions) before
being followed up with Active exercise.
Notice too, how important the first Active
exercise was: it gave the students a
chance to predict what was coming.
Example 2 (lower intermediate)
In the second example, the class is once
again prepared for reading by discussion
what, if anything, the students know about
ghosts. The teacher may get them to say
whether they believe in ghosts or not and
if they have ever seen one.
After that, the textbook from which this
reading text is taken gives students some
information about ghosts (that they are
ususlly the result of a tragic death, that
they appear at night, etc.).
The students are now asked to read the
text on page 74 to say whether Orcas
Manor is a typical haunted house. This is a
general reading task designed to let them
get an overal picture of the text.
 For the next reading, the students are
asked more detailed Study-type questions,
Complete the table
Which ghost
He killed… .
You can see
him in… .
The corridors
The students can check their answers in
pairs before the teacher puts the chart on
the borad and has individuals come out
and fill it in to check that the whole class
have understood the text.
Sandford Orcas Manor(庄园)
Next to the church in the village of Sandford
Orcas there is an old gatehouse. If you go
through the gate you arrive at the sinister
(不吉利的)manor house which is famous
for its large number of ghosts.
The present owner of the manor says it is
difficult to keep servants because the
ghosts frighten them. Many people have
seen the ghosts of the previous owner. He
was a farmer who committed suicide by
hanging himself from the gatehouse, and
he often appears in the garden wearing
old working clothes.
Another ghost is an 18th century priest who
used to kill visitors while they were asleep
in their beds. He still sometimes frightens
guests in the middle of the night by
standing over their beds holding a knife.
The ghost of a servant sometimes walks
along the dark corridors of the house. He
murdered his master at Sandford Orcas,
but nobody knows why.
But perhaps the most frightening story is of a
young man who grew up in the house and them
became a sailor. While he was at sea, he killed a
boy, and then went mad. When he retured to
Sandford Orcas, they locked him in a room at
the back of the house. He never left the room
again, and died there several years later. On
some nights when the moon is full, you can hear
him screaming and banging on the door of the
The teacher wants students to understand
how we use pronouns to refer back to
subjects we have already mentioned. He
asks them who or what “it”, “them” and “He”
refer to in paragraph two. What do “they,
“their”, “he” refer to in paragraph three?
As a follow-up task, students can write a
description of a haunted house which they
can invent. They can do this individually or
in pairs or groups.
Once again, a patchwork lesson has started with
an Engage session where teacher and students
talk about haunted houses and read some
information about ghosts. Then they read for
general understanding—an Active type of
exercise—before Study the text—both for
meaning and then for language use (personal
pronoun use in text writing)– and then doing
another Active follow-up.
Example 3(intermediate)
In this example for intermediate students,
the students first look fat a picture of
people sunbathing and say whether it is a
positive, safe and attractive image—or
whether it is the opposite.
They are then shown the following magazine
Polly Griffiths Goes down to the Sea for
Advice on How to Look Good and Stay
So you think you’re too pale and want to get
a good suntan this summer? Why not?
Except that unless you’re careful the sun
can make your skin old and leathery and
can even give you skin cancer.
If you must sunbathe (and let’s face it, lots of
us think it’s a good idea), then have a look
at these gorgeous guys and babies I found
on the beach and see which of them is like
I’m the type who always burns. It’s because
I’m fair-skinned– and I’ve got red hair and
freckles. That’s why I’m so good-looking!
But I still burn unless I use a really high
APF (sun protection factor)– about 20 in
strong sun.
I have to be careful ‘cause I’m the type who
burns easily. But I do tan in the end. If
you’ve got fair hair and blue eyes like me
you’d better use quite a strong sunscreen
(an SPF of 15 to start with)…
Yeah I tan easily. People like me who are
dark-skinned (with dark hair and brown
eyes) are not only realy cool but we go
even browner in the sun. I still use a
sunscreen though, something light with an
SPF of about 6…
Me, I’ve got built-in protection! I don’t burn,
but I don’t sunbathes anyway. I mean what
for? I like messing around on the beach
So the message is: Check out what kind of
skin you’ve got and then be safe and
sensible– and have a good time! See you
at poolside Bar!
The teacher checks that they have
understood by asking them questions like
“What sun protection factor does Roger
use?” “Does Melinda burn?” “Who is darkskinned, fair skinned?” etc. Students then
use language from the article to describe
In this straight arrow lesson, the teacher
strats by Engaging the students with
discussions of sunbathing. They then
Study the text before going on to Activate
the knowledge which the text has given
Example 4(intermediate to advance)
The final example shows that reading does not
have to be a static activity dealing with prose
passages. We can make much more dynamic
than than.
The teacher wants to get his intermediate students
reading poetry, both because he thinks they will
enjoy it (if done in an Engaging way) and
because he thinks it can provide a useful focus
for language study.
He askes students if they like poetry. Can
they remember any poems? What are they
about? What do poets normally write
He tells them that he is going to put students in
groups of nine. Each student in the group will get
a line from a poem. They can read it aloud but
they must not show it to the other eight members
of the group. The task of the group is to put the
lines in the right order for the poem.
He then hands out the following lines (at random)
to the nine members of the group.
And would suffice.
But if it had to perish twice
From what I’ve tasted desire
I think I know enough of hate
Ice is so nice
I hold with those who favour fire.
Some say in ice.
To sat that for destruction
Some say the world will end in fire.
They read their lines out to each other and
see if they can put them in the right order.
Ideally, the groups will be standing up in
circles so that the members can change
position when the group have decided
where their lines come in the poem.
As the activity goes on, the teacher goes
round the groups listening to how they are
getting on. If they are not making any
headway, he may prompt them by saying
“Shall I tell you what the first line is?” or
“Think of the sounds of the last word in
each line” etc.
When the students( think they) have finished
the task, the teacher reads the poem
aloud for them to check their version. This
is what he reads:
Some say the world will end in fire,
Some say in ice.
From what I’ve tasted of desire
I hold with those who favour fire.
But if it had to perish twice
I think I know enough of hate
To say that for destruction
Ice is nice
And would suffice.
The groups have to decide on a good title for the
poem which they can them compare with the
original (which is “Fire and Ice”—the poem is by
Robert Frost).
The teacher can then ask students to say whether
they like the poem and whether they think it is
funny, sad, serious or tragic. He then gets them
to describe the rhyme scheme of the last words
in each line (, B, A, A, B, C, D, B, B).
The teacher then gives students first lines of
poems and tells them to write down their
own (he can make it “the worst poem in
the world’s competition to bring in humor)
using a particular rhyme scheme, for
This reading activity works because students really
have to engage with the meaning and
construction of the poem. When they are trying
to put the poem in order, you will hear them
discussing rhymes, punctuaton, logic and word
meaning. It is popular with students (if used only
occasionally), even with those who are not
natural fans of poetry. Interestingly, after an
initial Engage session, it quickly becomes a
perfect mixture of Study and Activation—
studying the poem’s construction whilst still
activating all the language they know.
More reading suggestons
Students read small ads for holidays, partners,
things for sale etc., to make a choice. They
amplify the ads into descriptions.
Students read jumbled instructions for a simple
operation (using a public phonebox etc.) and
have to put the instruction in correct order.
3. Students read a recipe and after matching
instructions with pictures, they have to cook
the food! (elementary/intermediate)
4. Students are given a number of words from a
text. In groups, they have to predict what kind
of a text they are going to read. They then read
the text to see if their original predictions were
correct. (elementary/intermediate)
6. Students have to match topic sentences
with the paragraphs they come from.
(intermediate and uper intermediate)
7. Students read a text and have to guess
which of the group of people they think
wrote the text (using the picture provided).
(lower intermediate/advanced)
8. Students read a narrative with the end
missing. In groups, they have to supply
their own ending. (intermediate/advanced)
9. Students read a “factfile”about a country,
population, machine or process etc. They
have to convert the information into bar
graphs(条线图)or pie charts(饼状图).
The End
Thank you!
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