Category Archives: ESL Reading

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

One of Best Uses of an ESL Program’s Funds—And a Giant Help to Teachers.

Reading Journals

This is one of the best things we’ve implemented in programs where I’ve taught for three reasons:

1. It has helped students improve their reading and writing skills, and grammar, and vocabulary.
2. It adds NO EXTRA WORK for teachers.
3. It costs relatively little money.

As most teachers in the field already know, one of the best ways for students to improve their skills is to do more reading.  (See A True Story to Motivate Students to Read More a detailed example).  However, adding more reading assignments usually means more work for the teacher—in the form of worksheets or quizzes or  feedback in some way—because students need to be held accountable for actually doing the assignments.

Here is the Perfect Solution

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Free Reading Unit.  Science of Shopping

Excerpt

1 Sixty-five percent of men who take jeans into a fitting room of a store will buy them, but only 25% of women will do that.

2 Four percent of people shopping for computers on a Saturday morning will buy one, compared to 21% who will buy one after 5 p.m.

3 Eight percent of shoppers in a store that sells houseware use shopping baskets.  Also, 75% of the people who use a basket will, in fact, buy something, as opposed to 34% of the shoppers who don’t use a basket.

4 Information about customers’ shopping patterns like those that are described above can help store owners make decisions that improve the sales in their stores.

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

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

Article & Study Guide for  Science of Shopping (and excerpts)

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Personalized Vocabulary Exercise

  • What is the incentive that makes you study hard in school?
  • Who do you think had the greatest impact on what you like to do: your mother, father, a relative, a friend, or a teacher?
  • In this class, is there someone who has a distinct characteristic, for example, a way of talking, a hairstyle, a tattoo, a type of clothing, or a habit? Explain.
  • Think about your life. Tell about a time when your life seemed unstable.
  • Let’s say that you are a parent. What rule do you think that you would impose on your teenage children?
  • Name a person whom you know that has an expertise in something? __________ What does that person have an expertise in?

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:

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

Excerpt from the article

1 A little, 4-year-old boy is alone in a room sitting at a table staring at a piece of candy.  He has to make a decision.  If he can wait until his teacher returns in a few minutes, she will give him two pieces of candy.  But if he can’t wait and decides to eat the piece that is in front of him, he won’t get a second piece when she returns.  Amazingly, what he decides to do (eat the one piece now or wait and get a second one in a few minutes) can help us predict the type of grades he will get in high school, whether or not he will graduate from college, what his health will be like when he is an adult, and whether or not he’ll get a divorce in the future.

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

See 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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Free Reading Unit. Reading for Insights: “Does Social Media Make People Sadder?”

In an interesting segment on the podcast, “Hidden Brain,” a researcher said, “Using Facebook makes you more comparative.  You compare yourself to others more often.  You judge yourself.  Am I better or worse?  Am I happier?  Are other people happier than me?” (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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Reading Units: Reading for Insights (Introduction)

Reading books

Once a month, I plan to share a reading unit some of  which you can print out and share with your students.  I’ll also be making some available on a different site where you can preview and download them.

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 Not Being Sold as a Book.

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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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