English First – Shijiazhuang China

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As I’m sure we all know, students seem to speak more naturally in class than they do work in a book or read a passage. I shall try and set out a few activities that focus more on the skills of reading and writing which hopefully can help new or even more experienced teachers put a bit of variety in their classes.

1. Running Dictation

reading 3This is an activity that will get half of the class out of their chairs and inject some pace into a lesson. Separate the class into two (groups A and B) along a wall opposite each other. The As have a text on the wall and Bs have paper to write on. The As must run from their wall and dictate to their partner, B, their text. B listens and then writes it down. Of course if it is more than a short phrase, A must go back multiple times to dictate the text to B. Once complete, A and B can switch roles.
Just be aware that As will try and cheat if other pairs are going faster by taking the paper with the text with them when they move to B; make it clear to the students that the paper must stay stuck to the wall or chair so that B can’t copy it.

2. Read the Difference

reading2Put partner A and B back to back so that they are facing away from each other. A has the correct version of a text and B has one with errors. A reads their text aloud to B who listens whilst reading their own. Whenever theirs is an error or a difference B must correct their copy. At the end of the activity, A’s and B’s papers will be the same. Have B read it back to A so that they can peer check each others work. As an extension, Bs paper could have some comprehension questions that he can ask A when they have finished to give both a chance to practice reading aloud and to themselves.

Short Example
Text A: I go to school at seven o’clock in the morning and I have lunch at 12p.m.
Text B: I go to school at six o’clock in the evening and I have lunch at 12.20 p.m.

In the above example, B listens to A and amends his text so that they are both the same.

3. Reading CCQ Rush

reading1When having the class complete a reading task, have simple comprehension questions on separate slips of paper. Put these around the room and put the students into pairs, A and B. A will get up and find question one and come back to B who has stayed sat down. A will tell B what the question was and they will both work together to scan the text for the answer and then write down the answer. A will then get up and find question 2 and come back and tell the question to B and together they answer this question. Repeat the process until all questions are answered.

4. Sequence and Paraphrase a Longer Text

For a reading article make simple sentences that paraphrase what is going on. Cut them up and give them to the students in pairs or small groups who then have to sequence the summaries in order. This can be extended. Have one of the group go round to the other groups asking what happened in the text. The other partner(s) then can use the slips as a basis to give a controlled summary of the article; weaker students can just read off the ordered strips where as more confident students can use them to retell the article in their own words.


English First – Shijiazhuang China

This school is holding interviews for teaching jobs now, apply today!

About the Author:

Iain Foreman
Iain Foreman is the Director of Studies at English First in Shijiazhuang.
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