How to Teach Reading

 

There are many reasons why getting students to read English texts is an important part of the teacher’s job. In the first place, many students want to be able to read texts in English either for their careers, for study purposes or simply for pleasure. Anything we can do to make it easier for them to do these things must be a good idea. Reading is useful for language acquisition. Provided that students more or less understand what they read, the more they read, the better they get at it. Reading also has a positive effect on students’ vocabulary knowledge, on their spelling and on their writing. Reading texts also provide good models for English writing. At different times we can encourage students to focus on vocabulary, grammar or punctuation. We can also use reading material to demonstrate the way we construct sentences, paragraphs and whole texts. Students then have good models for their own writing. Lastly, good reading texts can introduce interesting topics, stimulate discussion, excite imaginative responses and provide the springboard for well-rounded, fascinating lessons.

 

There are several reading principles that should be followed:

 

Principle 1: Encourage students to read as often and as much as possible.

The more students read, the better. Everything we do should encourage them to read extensively as well as - if not more than - intensively. It is a good idea to discuss this principle with students.

 

Principle 2: Students need to be engaged with what they are reading.

Outside normal lesson time, when students are reading extensively, they should be involved in joyful reading - that is, we should try to help them get as much pleasure from it as possible. But during lessons, too, we will do our best to ensure that they are engaged with the topic of a reading text and the activities they are asked to do while dealing with it.

 

Principle 3: Encourage students to respond to the content of a text (and explore their feelings about it), not just concentrate on its construction.

Of course, it is important for students to read texts in order to find out such things as 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 as this. As a result, we must give students a chance to respond to that message in some way. It is especially important that they should be allowed to show their feelings about the topic - thus provoking personal engagement with it and the language. With extensive reading this is even more important. Reading for pleasure is - and should be different from reading for study.

 

Principle 4: Prediction is a major factor in reading.

When we read texts in our own language, we frequently have a good idea of the content before we actually start reading. Book covers give us a clue about what is in the book; photographs and headlines hint at what articles are about; we can identify reports as reports from their appearance before we read a single word. The moment we get these clues – the book cover, the headline, the web-page banner - our brain starts predicting what we are going to read. Expectations are set up and the active process of reading is ready to begin. In class, teachers should give students ‘hints’ so that they also have a chance to predict what is coming. In the case of extensive reading - when students are choosing what to read for pleasure - we should encourage them to look at covers and back cover copy to help them select what to read and then to help them ‘get into’ a book.

 

Principle 5: Match the task to the topic when using intensive reading texts.

Once a decision has been taken about what reading text the students are going to read (based on their level, the topic of the text and its linguistic and activation potential), we need to choose good reading tasks - the right kind of questions, appropriate activities before during and after reading, and useful study exploitation, etc. The most useful and interesting text can be undermined by boring and inappropriate tasks; the most commonplace passage can be made really exciting with imaginative and challenging activities, especially if the level of challenge (i.e. how easy it is for students to complete a task) is exactly right for the class.

 

Principle 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, in class, just to get students to read it and then drop it and move on to something else. Good teachers integrate the reading text into interesting lesson sequences, using the topic for discussion and further tasks, using the language for study and then activation (or, of course, activation and then study) and using a range of activities to bring the text to life. Where students have been doing extensive reading, we should use whatever opportunities present themselves to provoke useful feedback.

 

3 Stages of Reading

The process of reading divides into three stages. The 3 stages combined form is known as stages of reading. Besides, reading influences how much an individual remembers and understand the text. The three stages of reading are pre-reading, while reading and post-reading.

 

Pre-Reading

 

In the pre-reading stage, a person prepares herself or himself for the things that they are going to read. In addition, according to research previewing the text can increase the reader’s involvement with the text. These are:

Setup a purpose - Decide a written or mental goal for your reading. Moreover, this purpose will help you to locate the specific information or idea that you need to summarize the text.

Make Predictions - Use the title or sub-heading to generate an idea about the book or text. Also, try to figure out how the writer will try to communicate the topic. Besides, prediction makes you curious about what the topic is.

Questions - Ask some questions before you start reading, which according to you the text will answer.

Build Knowledge - In this first of all think about the topic and then acquaint you with the content. Also, make yourself familiar with the language, format, topic, issue, and ideas that it will cover. In addition, in what way the language and organization of the text are used for specific purposes. Besides, the purpose of writing can be describing, informing, persuading, interacting, finding out, entertaining, recording, and regulating.

Scan the Vocabulary - Quickly look over the text for new words and then try to find their meaning from the context.

Skimming - It is a process in which a person just does a surface level reading and pay attention to the visuals, sub-headings, and format to govern if the text gives the information it needs or not.

Scanning - It simply means that do a quick reading of the text and look for keywords, ideas, phrases, visuals, subheadings, and format.

 

While Reading

It means to look for clues in the text to obtain the author’s meaning and purpose for strengthening the skills of the reader.

The order of reading - The order of the text should be according to the order that we mention below. Also, it helps you to get the universal meaning before you go through the whole text in details. Besides, sometimes it happens that people after going through this order does not feel to read the whole text. Moreover, the order is:

  1. Heading or title

  2. Sub-headings

  3. Head paragraph

  4. Final paragraph

  5. The first sentence of every paragraph

  6. Entire text

Joining different elements of the text - Pay attention to what the writer/author is saying and how she/he expresses it. Also, what is the clear and secret meaning in the text? Try to figure out the sense of the author in relation to the topic.

Guess - When you get stuck on a word then try to read the whole text and guess its meaning accordingly. This will help you to learn new ways to use a word.

Silent reading - It is the quality of good readers that they read silently. Besides, reading aloud slows you down. Also, it forces you to listen to the sounds of words rather than their meaning.

Getting answers - Look for the answer to the question that you asked in the pre-reading stage. Moreover, it helps you to determine to predict the text.

Post Reading

In this simply go to the pre-reading stages and try to fill the gaps that you make according to your assumption. In addition, prepare a detailed sketch of what you have learned and compare it with prediction.

Evaluate - This help in carrying out how effective the writing as if the writer was successful at its an accomplishment or not.

Map - Create a visual presentation of the text and the different ideas in it with the main idea in the center.

Discuss - Analyze the language, content, and pattern of the text.

Initial prediction - Check whether your initial prediction was right or not.

Pre-reading question - Try to answer your entire pre-reading question.

 

7 Effective Ways of Reading

 

  1. Teacher should provide the texts that students will want to read:

  • Authentic

  • Relevant

  • Interesting

  • Varied

   2. Teacher should provide the texts that students are able to read:

  • Graded

  • Non-specialist

  • Appropriate length

   3. Teacher should get the students teach pre-reading strategies:

  • Use visual clues

  • And text clues-  title, headings, etc.

  • Encourage students to skim before reading in detail.

   4. Teacher should develop a range of comprehension strategies:

  • Practice intensive reading

  • Have students develop key comprehension strategies

 

   5. Teacher should use texts to develop higher order thinking skills:

  • Develop critical thinking skills

  • Encourage students to react to a text

 

   6. Teacher should get the students teach strategies for dealing with new vocabulary.

   7.  Teacher should help the learners summarize what they’ve learned:

 

  • Use graphic organizers to aid comprehension and recall.

 

Reading Activities

We can ask our students to do almost anything with a reading text. Here are some of the most common activities. They are designed so that the students get a general understanding of the text first.

  • The students read the text and then tell each other if they liked it and why (or what they agreed with or didn’t agree with). This kind of GIST reading exercise makes them think about meaning in general, and invites them to engage emotionally with the text.

  • The text is presented as a reading puzzle. We cut it up and give the students the different paragraphs in random order. They have to work out how to put the text back into the correct order.

  • For JIGSAW READING we can divide the students into groups of three or more and create an INFORMATION GAP. Each student has a text which tells part of a story (or contains part of the information they need). They cannot show each other their texts. They have to ask each other what is in their texts in order to tell the whole story. Jigsaw reading gives the students a reason to read and understand what they are reading.

  • We can ask students to TRANSFER INFORMATION from texts to graphs, charts or other graphics.

  • We can ask students to answer gist questions about the text, such as the following

References:​

  1. Harmer, J (2012), Essential Teacher Knowledge, Pearson Education

  2. Harmer, J (2007), How to Teach English, Pearson Education

  3. 7 Tips for Effective Reading, National Geographic Learning Webinar by Sean Bermingham

  4. https://www.toppr.com

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