Sunday, February 26, 2006

Getting your students to read

I think that most teachers would agree that one of our aims should be to encourage sudents to read outside the narrow confines of the classroom, if we have got our students to do that then we can say they we've contributed something to their education, whatever the subject we happen to teach. This is particularly true in EFL/ESL (How we love our TLAs - Three Letter Acronyms)where independent reading is by far the most effective way of accumulating vocabulary. The problem is how to do this, especialy in places where extensive reading is not part and parcel of the student's educational culture?

Like I said in the previous post I went to a seminar by Paul Shaw which gave some excellent ideas on getting students to read on their own.The most obvious problem is making sure that students get the book that best suits them.


The first thing that has to be considered is, of course, the student's language level. Luckily, there are loads of graded readers aimed at every level, even beginners. So that problems is easily solved. However, finding something that peeks student's interest is an altogether more difficult task. Here are some suggestions,

1 Know your students

Ask them about books they've read, films they like, the kind of programmes they watch on TV, what hobbies or interests they have. I know this sounds obvious, but often we know very little about our students beyond what we see in the classroom.

2 Extracts

Photocopy a few paragraphs from the book and ask students to discuss possible plots, level of interest, genre etc.

3 Recommendations

Either spoken or written so that students can get a sense of if the book is for them.

4 Covers

Students look at the covers and illustrations from the book before choosing.


Some ideas on what you can do with the students once they've made their choice.

1 Learner diary

Every chapter students write down;

Main events
I liked...
I didn't like...
I think that (predictions for what will happen next)

Of course, this could easily be part of a student's personal blog.

2 Press release/news report

Students are asked to write a press release i.e. in a 100 words they have to imagine that the events in the chapter are news and they have to report them. This could also be turned into a "radio/TV broadcast" using mobile phones or a digital camera.

3 Classified Ads

Write a lonely hearts entry for the characters in the chapters

e.g. Tall, honest guy (Aries) with anger management issues seeks understanding woman with knowledge of plastic surgery and possibly genetic engineering.

All replies should be sent c/o Prof. Frankenstein.

4 R.I.P.

Students write an obituary for one of the characters. Macabre, perhaps but fun.

5 Talk Show

Students think of talk show style questions and then choose roles i.e. who'll be Oprah/Τατιανα and who'll be Harry Potter. This way students find out about the books other students are reading.

6 Ad Campaign

If more than one student has read the book then they get together and create an ad campaign to sell the book. They should come up with;

an TV/radio spot

The students create a 30/60 sec advertisement which they record. The class then votes on the most effective campaign.

7 Radio Play

Students create a play based on part of the book. They chose the main event and then adapt it. They can also include sound effects as well as dialogue. Again this can be recorded


As with so many things in eduation we need to teach this through example. We need to let student know that we too, enjoy reading. A good idea is to bring in what you're reading and talk to the students about it and why you're enjoying it.

As well as tradtional books all these activities can be done with audio books downloaded (FREE) off the internet. See the side bar of the blog for links.

My apologies to Paul if I've garbled some of this.


aliya seen said...
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aliya seen said...

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