Category Archives: ESL Reading

These postings include activities for reading skill-development, teaching techniques and strategies for evaluating reading skills.

5th  Free Reading Unit.  Scarcity: Not Having Enough of Something (can effect mental capacity)

Scarcity image

An excerpts from the article

(This posting includes handouts which you are welcome to use with your students.)

See FREE Reading Units: Reading for Insights (Introduction) for an introduction to these reading units.  FREE Reading Units: Reading for Insights (Introduction)

Study Guide, Reflection & Vocabulary for Scarcity: Not Having Enough of Something

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Personalized Vocabulary Exercise

Personalize Voc Image

Which of these two sentences below would be more fun for you to answer?

1) What is one significant event that happened in the world this past year?

2) What is one significant event that happened to you this past year?

Which of those two sentences would be more fun for you to hear your friend answer?

Which of those two sentences would be more likely to help you internalize the word “significant”?

It seems that the second one tends to be much more stimulating for students to answer.  And, on top of that, it seems be the type of question which will help students retain the meaning of the word.

A few years ago, I started to add an additional vocabulary exercise titled “Applied Vocabulary” to the more traditional ones that I was assigning my students.  In this, each new vocabulary word is embedded in a personal question about the students’ lives and experiences.  For example:

-With whom did you interact before you came to class today?

-When you were in high school, did your parents give you a lot of autonomy? Explain.

– Smoking cigarettes is prohibited in most high schools. What is something else that is prohibited in high schools in your country?

-With whom have you had a conflict recently (e.g., parents, boss, a girlfriend,a roommate)? __________________ Briefly tell what the conflict was about.

-Choose the things that seem inconceivable to you:
___ There will be no more wars in the world.
___ I will live in a foreign country for most of my life.
___ I will get married.
___ I will be rich enough to own several homes.
___ I will have a lot of children.
___ I will retire from work before I am 50 years old.
___ I will be a performer in a movie.
___ (Write one more thing about your future that is inconceivable to you.)

-Do you think that the method that your parents used to raise you is consistent with how you would raise your own children? _______ Explain.

-Complete this sentence: Recently, I feel insecure about _________________________ .
a) my financial situation
b) my grade in this course
c) my future
d) other: ___________________________________

Although I can’t prove empirically that this type of personalized exercise improves students retention of a word’s meaning, I have noticed an improvement in the average score on vocabulary quizzes.  (Perhaps the quality of student entering my class is just higher than previous terms, and thus, their scores were higher.)

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2nd Free Reading Unit.  Reading for Insight: The Candy Test: Controlling Impulses

Candy Test image

Excerpt from the article

(This posting includes handouts which you are welcome to use with your students.)

See FREE Reading Units: Reading for Insights (Introduction)  for an introduction to these reading units.

Study Guide, Reflection & Vocabulary  for The Candy Test: Controlling Impulses (and excerpts)

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1st FREE Reading Unit. Reading for Insights: “Does Social Media Make People Sadder?”

Social media image

Excerpt from the article

(This posting includes handouts which you are welcome to use with your students.)

See FREE Reading Units: Reading for Insights (Introduction) for an introduction to these reading units.

Study Guide, Reflection & Vocabulary for  Does Social Media Make People Sadder? (and excerpts)

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FREE Reading Units: Reading for Insights (Introduction)

Reading books

Once a month, I plan to share a reading unit which you can print out and share with your students.

The Features of these units

  • High-interest articles at the intermediate level that usually include references to some research study that students can relate to.
  • The information is often counter-intuitive. Students gain some new insights from them.
  • Study guides involve a variety of comprehension questions and scaffolding paraphrasing ones and vocabulary exercises.
  • Each unit includes at least one “Reflection” exercise in which students write:

Reflection items image

  • Other uses of the articles:
    as a prompt for discussions.
    as a prompt for writings.

The Reasons Why these Units are Free.

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Don’t Wastes Students’ Energy Teaching Certain Types of Vocabulary Words in Reading Class

Three Tiers

“Radiance,” “strike a deal,” “gorgeous” “ecosystem.” In my 40 years of teaching academic ESL, I’ve probably seen these word in a reading passage at most only once or twice.  And I’ve never seen a student use them in a writing task.  And yet, these words were  included in several vocabulary exercises in a textbook, and students were asked to write sentences with them.  Because the words were in a reading passage, the author of the textbook, for some reason, decided that these were important words for students to study and try to internalize.

I think most of us would agree that spending time on a words so rarely used as “radiance” or “strike a deal” is probably not the best use of students’ precious time and mental energy if our true goal is to help them develop their reading skills.  At the same time, many of us who have studied a foreign language would agree that reading comprehension is enhanced by knowledge of a lot of vocabulary words.

At this point, two questions come to mind: (1) How do learners increase their vocabulary, and (2) which vocabulary words would perhaps be beneficial to study through exercises?

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The Most Effective Classroom Organization for Reading Skills Development

Reading book

Here is what seems to be some well-kept secrets about reading classes.  The teacher doesn’t have to be the center of attention.  The teacher doesn’t have to “act” like a teacher, standing up front talking.

And most of all, students will not be bored or waste time if they are reading individually during class.

What students need from the reading teacher is someone who can help each individual student develop their reading comprehension skills.  A student doesn’t need to listen to a teacher explain to the class parts of a passage he/she already understands but that a classmate doesn’t.

Students can get the maximum benefits from a reading class and from a reading teacher through a reading workshop.  This workshop approach has proven effective at all levels and with students from over 40 countries.

One of the greatest advantages is that each student’s individual needs are addressed by the teacher during the class.  Another advantage is that students are working on reading by actually reading.  Also, they don’t have to wait for classmates to finish reading a passage or feel pressure to read faster to keep up with them.

Here is how a Reading Workshop can be effectively organized.

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