Teaching advanced learners how to read is not as easy as it sounds and many students have advanced as learners without strong reading skills. For starters, it’s important to consider that comprehension does not necessarily equal the ability to read and understand a text. A reading task – no matter how long the passage – should never be taken at “face value”. Rather, by incorporating the strategies below, you’ll not only make the most out of every reading exercise, your students will soon fully develop as strong readers.
1. Start with pre-reading activities. See our post on general tips for pre-reading.
2.Give students time to read on their own. Tell them to read quickly, working past words they don’t understand. If they want, they can put a small mark by words they’re not sure about.
3. Ask general comprehension questions of your students – focusing on the 5 W’s and H questions. Create questions that will help them guide their understanding of the text. At this stage, don’t spend too much time on questions that the students don’t have answers to. They will have another opportunity to read through the passage and focus on these questions. If there were unknown words, encourage them to decipher their meaning from context.
4. Have students read the text again. This time, have them pay particular attention to the unknown words.
5. Ask more specific comprehension questions and answer lingering questions about meaning or vocabulary. Don’t hesitate to get students to stay with a question you want an answer for – they may need time to think. A good rule of thumb is to “hold the silence” for at least 5 more seconds after you start to feel uncomfortable about it. Or, if you find that students truly can’t process the depth of a question, assign it as homework!
6. Have students read the text out loud – keeping in mind that reading out loud is a great way to practice pronunciation, but a terrible way to develop understanding! You can incorporate vocabulary comments, questions, pronunciation along the way.
7. If you think that there are certain words in the text that will be extremely hard to figure out from context and are necessary for understanding the story, you can go over these before starting or at step 2.