How can I make reading less tedious?
Diary submitted by Gemma J. Valencia
How do you make necessary components of a class more innovative?
A core component of all the speaking classes I have taught during my TEFL placement in Spain have involved reading. The reading material provided by the school is sophisticated and always geared towards the grammar point being focused on in each lesson.
However, as crucial as reading is for the correction of pronunciation and the expansion of vocabulary, I have always found it to be the least inspiring part of my classes. This is further exacerbated if the student does not find the topic of the reading interesting, with the age of the student also impacting engagement with the material. Younger students tend to have shorter attention spans and become restless during this section of the session.
To combat this, a creative approach is necessary. An example of innovation in reading practice would be a “cut-up & rearrange” exercise. Students would be given a short piece of dialogue and scissors. They would then cut up different sentences and rearrange them into a new structure. Once it was complete they would then read the new structure aloud. This would encourage a more active involvement with the reading. The student would also have to think carefully about the meaning of each sentence, testing their reading comprehension in a relaxed and fun learning environment. The aim of the exercise would be to demonstrate the value of reading and to instil a confidence in the student in their own ability with learning English as both the reader, and the storyteller. This approach is even more valuable in that it can be tailored to any age group.
Older students can engage with dialogues of varying difficulties, whereas with younger students the focus can be primarily on the act of storytelling. I regularly teach two six-year old girls and adapted this exercise as a more physical, crafting activity concerned with vocabulary and reading. The girls had to cut up small bits of paper and write different words in English on them. They then spread them across the floor and assembled the words together into sentences, creating a story. It created an energetic environment in which they were also confident to ask me for more vocabulary to develop their story. Once they had finished their masterpiece they had to read it aloud for me.
This approach to reading made it less stationary. It was no longer just verbal, it was also kinaesthetic. And so, innovation is invaluable, especially with younger students, to continue the development of skills such as Reading in EFL lessons.