A few weeks ago we looked
at some ideas for using one graded
reader in class.
week we're looking at ideas when the students are all reading
different graded readers. You do need to be lucky enough
to have a range of readers at your school & clearly
some of the previous ideas can apply here too. Here are
a few ideas:
1. Story sharing - the main
advantage of all the students reading different books is
in the sharing of the different stories. Storytelling &
narrative techniques can be looked at naturally through
this. Every so often the students get together with their
designated 'reading buddy' & tell what they have read
since the last telling.
2. Summary writing - can be
incorporated into the above. Every week or two the students
write a summary & then swap with their reading buddy.
Some work on summary writing beforehand & during. The
summaries could go into the school newsletter.
3. Personalised teacher choice
- this is a chance for you to personalise exposure by allocating
books to individuals. This could be through the content
that you think will appeal to different students or through
the language difficulties that the books present. Especially
useful for the mixed level group.
4. Personalised student choice
- the students choose from a range of readers at their level,
promoting individual choice & autonomy.
5. Students as teachers -
every so often the students choose a language area from
the book they are reading & discuss it with a partner,
who does the same with an area from their book. Worth checking
out beforehand the areas the students have chosen so you
can be prepared with extra help.
6. Dialogue writing - students
write dialogues, or choose one from the book, & they
become the director with two or three other students, explaining
the situation, the roles & rehearsing the dialogue before
the public class performance.
7. Reader records - on completion
of a reader, each student fills in a form that gives the
title, author, publisher & a summary of the book. These
are kept in a folder for other students to consult when
choosing another reader.
8. Reader posters - the younger
learner students make a poster around the book they have
9. Selling - the students
mingle & persuade each other to read their books.
10. Discussions - when a reader
has been finished, before going on to the next, the students
discuss their books & decide on the most/least interesting
etc. ..as a way of helping them decide which to read next.
Reading outside of class in
English is an essential aspect of language development for
our students & the graded readers are there to be used
for just that. Graded readers have been criticised a lot
but there are more & more interesting & ones to
to the contents
SQ3R stands for Survey,
Question, Read, Recall, Review. It is a procedure to
help with tackling books & sections of books & applies
as much to the native as non-native speaker of English.
You've got the book & here you take a good look at the
whole book so you can decide what you need from it.
- the title & the covers
- the index
- the introduction - usually written last & might prove
a good summary of what is to come.
- the conclusion
- the diagrams
- the appendices
You might find now that the
book doesn't provide you with any more information than
you already know & you can save time by getting on to
Here you write down as many questions that you want answered
from the text in front of you. Look at the index & see
if you might find the answers in the book.
Alternatively, you could look at each chapter in turn &
the headings in it & write down all the questions you
can think of that it might answer.
Read & write the answers to your questions as they arise.
If you actively look for the answers, you will be reading
much faster. Mark the text to allow easy reference for notetaking
later on. You might also be writing new questions along
At the end of each chapter/section look at your questions
& recall the answers. This will aid retention. You might
want to put the new ideas into a mind map at this point.
At the end go through what you have learned, ticking off
the answered questions and summarise your ideas & notes
in a mind map.
A sensible approach for any
form of study. Pass it on to your students & colleagues.
to the contents
If we were to be asked what approach we took
to our teaching I suppose the nearest we could get to it is
a 'learner-based approach'. That is to say that the learner
takes a central role in the process. The course would try
to take into account all aspects of the learner from previous
learning experiences to the way the learner likes to learn,
& centred around the learner's needs & interests.
Rather than trying to fit the learner into the way you teach,
it should be you adapting to the learner. This might mean,
at times, teaching in ways that you might not necessarily
be too comfortable with.
No matter which approach one takes, there
is always room for 'personalisation'. This is an attempt to
make the language & the lesson content relevant &
meaningful to the learner's life & experiences & as
a result the language should be better retained. You are very
probably involving the learner in many ways & here are
a couple of reminders for personalising aspects of your lessons:
- language presentations can be personalised
- see the following Tips:
- after presentations of new language, relate
the language to the students. For example, you have just presented
'used to' for talking about discontinued past habits &
states & the students have finished copying down the new
language, you then ask the students what they used to do when
they were younger. This will also act as a check on the language
- 'I used to play football' from an avid player will tell
you that the full concept has yet to be grasped.
The same applies to vocabulary. After presenting a group of
items related to positive & negative personality traits,
the students can discuss which apply to them & whether
they know anyone with four or more of the negative ones.
- language practice activities can be personalised.
Instead of talking about some invented characters or situations,
get the the students to disclose about themselves. The present
perfect simple to talk about past experiences clearly lends
itself to the students sharing their experiences.
A fun mingle drill for the present simple for daily routines
is to find out who is the laziest in the class by the students
asking everyone in the class what time they get up & what
time they go to bed. They then work out who spends the longest
time in bed. Obviously done light-heartedly & containing
lots of repetition practice.
The two Tips above provide ready student-made personalised
- when using texts, choose interesting &
relevant ones & at some point in the lesson get a personal
response to the text from the students. A listening text about
the homeless would lead on later to a discussion of what the
group think about what was said & any further ideas about
- not only at the beginning of courses, activities
to get to know each other are good for developing & maintaining
a good group dynamic. Continue these type of activities in
practice activities, warmers, coolers & games.
Don't forget that this includes you, the
teacher. You can't expect lots of disclosure from your students
if you're not prepared to do the same. Get personal &
to the contents
the Past Teaching Tips