When reading class is just on the other side of the bell, it is not too late to incorporate the following activities into class. They take very little preparation (some take none at all) and can make a big difference in how your ESL students experience reading class.
So the next time you are looking for a reading strategy on the go, try one that is listed below.
Try These 7 Specific Strategies for Your Next Reading Class
Do a Jigsaw
Reading large texts in class is probably not the best use of your all too short classroom time. Some in-class reading, however, does provide communicative value to your ESL students. The popular technique known as the jigsaw gives your students practice in reading, speaking and listening. To set your students to a jigsaw, divide your selected text into three or four sections. Break your class into the same number of groups and give each group one section of the text and that section only. Have students read and discuss their section and then mix up your groups so one student from each of the original groups in now in a second new group. Each group member should explain the portion of the text that he read (in his first group) to the rest of the (second) group without showing them the text itself. Each member will need to adequately explain his section so that each person in the group knows all of the important information from the entire text.
Play a Part
Role-playing a text in class can be a fun and entertaining way to check students’ comprehension and aid those who may not have gotten all they should have from the text. After reading a selection, you can have groups of students act out what they read in front of the class. This will ensure they understand what they have read and will give the rest of the class contextual information about what they have read. Alternately, you can have students act out a text as you read it aloud. This will do double duty as a listening comprehension activity as well. Permit audience members to correct their actors, and switch players frequently as you read. Be sure to use a text that has lots of action and even dialogue rather than description for this activity.
Make Frequent Compliments
When you are putting your students into classroom pairs, strategically match students with others whose strengths compliment their weaknesses. For example, if one student excels in vocabulary, pair him with someone whose strength is grammar. If a student has high reading comprehension, pair her with someone who reads quickly. Each student’s strengths will step in where the other student is weak, and as a team they will see more success than they might otherwise expect from themselves. You should also try to match students with different native languages with one another since it forces your students to use the English that they do know to communicate their thoughts and ideas with one another.
Give Immediate Feedback
Students who might struggle with reading will need fast and frequent feedback. Doing so will nip errors in the bud and will prevent your students from getting into habits and mistakes that will only need to be corrected later. Not only that, frequent correction opens the door for frequent praise for the successes your students make. Positive reinforcement will motivate and encourage your students to continue and give them a positive association and a sense of confidence with reading class.
Find Freedom to Fold
For some ESL students, a full page of text can seem overwhelming, and this creates tension and frustration before the student even starts reading. A technique as simple as folding a piece of paper into two or even four sections can give your students the confidence they need to know that they can conquer the short reading selection. When a student finishes with the first section, have him move onto the second and so on. Eventually, he will have completed the entire text and also avoided the unnecessary stress and anxiety that can come from a full page of typeset!
If your students purchase their own textbooks, they may already know they can write and mark up the page as they read. However, if your students are using a school owned text, something as simple as making extra copies for your students can aid their reading comprehension and other reading skills. Encourage students to underline or highlight text as they read. They may choose to mark key points in each paragraph or vocabulary that is unfamiliar. You can also encourage students to draw pictures in the margins as it will show they understand what they are writing. The few cents it costs to make those copies will give priceless rewards to your students.
Break Up the Test
Some students may be intimidated by a lengthy exam where page follows page. Instead of asking all your questions up front, give your students different sections of a test in smaller pieces throughout the day. You can still assess the same material with your test, but breaking it into sections can alleviate test anxiety and give your students a better chance at success.
You can incorporate these simple strategies into any reading lesson.
When you do, you will see your students succeed in new ways which will motivate them, and you will increase your own rewards as a teacher.
Do you have quick strategies you incorporate into reading class? Share them in the comments field below.
Susan likes to enjoy every day to its fullest whether she is freelance writing, teaching homeschoolers, or developing her special talent of instigation. When she is not imagining sand castles or catching others off balance, she cooks, sings, reads and takes walks in the sunshine. She earned an M.A. from the University of Delaware in Linguistics and an M.A. from Trinity School for Ministry in Youth Ministry. She currently lives in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania with her wonderful husband and her three cheepy cockatiels.
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