Whether the kids in your ESL class enjoy reading or it is the class they most dread, you can inspire them and give them a love for reading, and it is easier than you think.
These few simple tips can create an environment in your classroom that encourages and rewards reading, and your class will find that reading can be a blast. Be careful, though. You may not be able to pull them away from their books if you do!
How to Make Your Reading Class Fun: 10 Simple Ways
Create a Star Studded Bulletin Board
What you use to motivate your students to read can also double as a permanent classroom decoration this school year. Create a star-studded bulletin board that awards kids for reading books on their own. Start by taking a photograph of each child in your class and posting it on the bulletin board. Title the bulletin board “Star Readers” and be sure each child’s picture is posted. Then, show your students how to keep a reading log. In the log, they should keep a list of the books that they read and the days they read them along with any other information you want them to provide. Each week, review the reading logs and give each student one star sticker for every book he or she has read. Kids can then put the stars up near their picture on the bulletin board. The more they read, the more stickers they get. As the year progresses, the bulletin board will be covered with stars and your class will have a physical representation of all that they read!
Host a Book Exchange
Working with another class in the school, host a class book exchange. Have your students work together to choose the books that they most like to trade with another class. The other class does the same with their own set of books. Bring the two classes together, and have each group say what they like about the books that they chose. Take the books back to your own classroom, and you can then let children borrow the books or read them together as a class. After a set amount of time, come together again to return the books and allow pairs of students to discuss what they thought of the books that they read.
Fill a Wagon
A reading wagon can be fun and functional for your reading class. Acquire a wagon to keep in your classroom (you can use any pull vehicle if a wagon is not available) and allow your class to decorate it. Then, ask students to fill the wagon with books that they like most. Even better, gather a collection of books that fit with a theme you are studying in class (your children’s librarian can be a big help with this). During independent reading time, select a student to pull the wagon around the classroom and deliver books to his classmates. As the wagon stops at each child, he or she can choose a book to read from the wagon. When reading time is over, send the wagon around again so kids can return their books.
Some children will never forget the books that their reading teacher shared with the class. Choose a winning chapter book that your class is sure to love, and read a short selection to the class every day. Make sure you stop reading at an exciting part in the book so your class is eager for story time tomorrow! Once the book is finished, make it available to your students to read independently. Your students will enjoy hearing a good story as a group, and reading to your students will increase their interest in further reading.
Adding sound effects to your read aloud stories is fun and engaging for students. Assign several students in your class a sound to make when a particular word appears in a read aloud text. For example, if you were reading the three little pigs, you might have one student sound like the wind when you read huff and puff and have another student oink when you read the word pig. Then, as you read allow your students to add the effects to the story. It will keep them engaged and entertained and also aid in comprehension of lower level students.
Designate a Place
Providing your students a comfortable and fun place to read in class will motivate them to grab a book for some independent reading time. Many styles of play tents are available for purchase, but even something as simple as an appliance box can be transformed into a reading nook. Cut windows and a door out of the box and let your students decorate it to look like a clubhouse. Put a comfortable chair inside and hang a sign on the door that says, “Shhh! Someone is Reading”. When you give your students independent reading time, allow one student at a time to go in the reading clubhouse to enjoy his book.
A Place to Share
Keep your eyes opened for a large, stuffed chair that you can put into a corner of your classroom. You may find one at a flea market, a garage sale or even on the curb waiting to be taken away. A large chair that will fit two children in your class is best, and then designate it the reading pair chair. Two at a time, students can sit in this chair while they read a book to one another. This will not only encourage reading, it will give your students practice in reading aloud and give them a chance to work on pronunciation and fluency.
Get it Covered
Bring your students’ creativity into your classroom with a bulletin board titled “Reading, We Have it Covered”. Whenever one of your students completes a book, allow him or her to design an original cover for the book. You can supply various art materials or simply allow your students to draw a cover. Then post the book cover on the bulletin board. Kids will love creating their own covers, and they will serve double as advertisements for the books to your other students.
Engage the Listeners
The next time you have independent reading period, play some classical or smooth jazz music in the background. The music will keep auditory learners more engaged in the activity without distracting them with lyrics. Playing music also creates a different mood in the classroom that your class is sure to enjoy.
The Magic Carpet
Kids love imaginary stories that include magic, mythical creatures and fantastical stories, and those tales can have a permanent place on the magic carpet in your classroom. Gather a collection of fairytale stories and put them on an area rug in the corner of your classroom. Tell your students that this magic carpet will take them to far off places and lands where magic flourishes. Kids will enjoy sitting or laying on the rug and reading stories about the far away fantastical places!
There are so many ways to make reading class fun for your ESL students.
With a little imagination and some preparation, your reading time can be engaging and inviting, but be warned. Your class may want reading to last all day long.
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.