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The Principles of Teaching Reading

The Principles of Teaching Reading | ITTT | TEFL Blog

How to teach reading skills depends on which objectives the teacher aims at developing in his/her students and on how lesson plans are structured. To this effect, teachers must make decisions about the objectives of their reading comprehension lesson.

This post was written by our TEFL certification graduate Cham H. Please note that this blog post might not necessarily represent the beliefs or opinions of ITTT.

For example, the following objectives guide the teacher in teaching reading skills.

  • Reading for gist?
  • Reading for specific information?
  • Reading for detailed comprehension?
  • Developing speed reading?
  • Training learners on specific reading strategies?
  • A combination of the above goals?

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How to teach reading relies also on the way the lesson is structured. Any reading lesson plan should include three stages:

  • Pre-reading stage
  • While the reading stage
  • Post-reading stage
  • Pre-reading stage

Pre-reading activities are an essential part of the reading lesson because of the following:

  • They help students be more prepared for what they are about to read
  • These activities help learners anticipate the topic of the reading.
  • Formulating expectations about the content of the text help learners prepare themselves for the kind of language, vocabulary, and even grammar that might be used in the text.
  • These activities create the need for reading the text to know more about a topic.
  • By creating the need to learn more about the topic, these activities increase students’ motivation.

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The teacher must activate students knowledge about the topic of the text they are about to read using the following activities:

  • Brainstorming
  • Discussions
  • Pictures
  • Pictionary
  • Predicting
  • KWL chart (Know, Want to Know, Learned)KWL chart is an excellent reading strategy to guide learners through a text. KWL stands for Know, Want to know, Learned. The aim is to elicit learners’ prior knowledge of the topic of the text and set a purpose for the reading activity.
  • Cloud of words
  • Videos are an excellent tool to create a context for the reading activity and to bridge the gap between listening, writing, speaking, and reading skills.
  • While reading activitiesWhile reading activities are activities that help students focus on text features and its comprehension.

The following are a few examples of while reading activities:

  • Skimming the text to check predictions is a while-reading activity that is an extension of some pre-reading activities. Skimming can be defined as reading a text quickly to get a general idea of the passage. Students do not have to read everything.
  • Scanning refers to reading to find specific information such as a name, a date, or a number. This is a technique used when one is interested in finding specific information quickly.
  • Comprehension questions
  • Economical questions
  • Commands
  • Yes/ No questions
  • True/ false statements
  • Multiple-choice questions
  • Sentence completion
  • Vocabulary and grammar work

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Reading is a great opportunity for vocabulary and grammar practice which contribute to a better understanding of the text.

  • Post-reading activities

Post-reading activities help learners summarize their learning, get a deeper understanding, and organize their thoughts and ideas. Here are examples of these activities.

  • What I learned: Some elements of the KWL chart mentioned above, namely the L (Learned) column, have to be completed after reading the text.
  • Discussion
  • Summarizing
  • Retelling the story would help learners to talk about the content of the passage. It is an opportunity for the teacher to integrate the speaking skill within the reading activity.
  • Think-pair-share
  • Drawing
  • Search quest
  • Videos
  • Presentations

Students may be asked to prepare a presentation about the text. They may use the internet to find documents related to the topic. These documents can be in the form of pictures, movies, songs, poems, etc.

  • Vocabulary work
  • Peer testing

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