Nowadays most course books come with the reading texts available in Word format either online or on the teacher’s resource CD-ROM. These are a great resource, but from my experience teachers rarely take advantage of these, which is a shame as there’s so much you can do with them and, better still, it takes no time at all! And during short courses that’s what all teachers want – quick, easy resources to prepare. So, with that in mind, here are some ideas on how to reuse readings for more than their original reading comprehension purpose.
Most reading lessons also come with vocabulary related task, but how often do you really recycle or review that vocabulary in context? By revisiting a text a week or so after reading it and removing all the key vocabulary they ‘learnt’ is an effective way of revising that vocabulary because it is in context. It’s also a good opportunity to help raise students’ awareness of collocations and chunks of language, which can be found everywhere. In this respect you could remove words from strong collocations and see if students can remember or work out what the missing word is.
Pre-read texts can also be used to review certain grammar points, specifically ones that have been studied recently in class or you know your students struggle with. For example, two areas that students at most levels constantly have issues with are articles and prepositions. And how often will you do an articles or preposition focused lesson? Not often, maybe even just once when the coursebook you’re using tells you to. What students actually need, then, is more regular exposure and practice of these problem areas to help them clarify rules and learn patterns – which is where using pre-read readings can come in. By removing all the prepositions or all the articles and turning the text into a gap fill task is a nice simple way to help develop student awareness of these areas. This needn’t be a whole lesson, but something that can be used to change the pace or focus of a lesson, or as an extra task at the start or end. “Little and often” as the saying goes. By the same token, if you wanted to review a certain tense (or tenses) you could change all the verbs to the infinitive and ask them to put them into the correct form.
This is a really easy activity to set up which helps students with word recognition and practices their punctuation (necessary for certain nationalities!). Simply take the text and remove all the punctuation, including all the spaces and capital letters. As it is a text which students have read previously there should be no pressure on actual understanding, allowing them to focus on the task at hand. As an added challenge I often add in extra erroneous words that I ask the students to find, which can also help with scanning skills.
Error Correction Tasks
We all know that students aren’t the best at identifying mistakes in their own writing, but when it comes to looking for mistakes in work that isn’t theirs, they’re generally much better. This activity aims to help them with this process. Choose a text they’ve previously read and add one (or more) errors to each line. These could be spelling or grammatical errors, but either way try to focus them on common mistakes that they make.
Exam Practice Tasks
Turning readings into Cambridge exam Use of English type tasks – specifically both cloze activities – is super simple when you’ve already got the text. With the Word document provided all you need to do to create an open cloze is remove the words you want and hey presto you have a ready-made exam practice task. In fact, getting students to create their own exam tasks is a really great way to get them thinking the way an examiner might and can help develop their exam skills and strategies.
Do you have any other strategies for reusing readings in your English Language classroom?
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Author: Alex Warren
Alex Warren is a DELTA trained teacher trainer with over 14 years’ experience of working in ELT as a teacher, academic director and teacher trainer. Working for National Geographic Learning, Alex is driven by his passion for developing teachers on a global scale and helping them to reach their true potential. A firm believer in a communicative approach to language learning and student centred learning, Alex enjoys working with innovative, thought-provoking materials and presenting on a wide range of ELT-related topics.