Developing Reading Activities
Developing reading activities involves more than identifying a text that is "at the right level," writing a set of comprehension questions for students to answer after reading, handing out the assignment and sending students away to do it. A fully-developed reading activity supports students as readers through prereading, while-reading, and post-reading activities.
As you design reading tasks, keep in mind that complete recall of all the information in a text is an unrealistic expectation even for native speakers. Reading activities that are meant to increase communicative competence should be success oriented and build up students' confidence in their reading ability.
Construct the reading activity around a purpose that has significance for the students
Make sure students understand what the purpose for reading is: to get the main idea, obtain specific information, understand most or all of the message, enjoy a story, or decide whether or not to read more. Recognizing the purpose for reading will help students select appropriate reading strategies.
Define the activity's instructional goal and the appropriate type of response
In addition to the main purpose for reading, an activity can also have one or more instructional purposes, such as practicing or reviewing specific grammatical constructions, introducing new vocabulary, or familiarizing students with the typical structure of a certain type of text.
Check the level of difficulty of the text
The factors listed below can help you judge the relative ease or difficulty of a reading text for a particular purpose and a particular group of students.
Remember that the level of difficulty of a text is not the same as the level of difficulty of a reading task. Students who lack the vocabulary to identify all of the items on a menu can still determine whether the restaurant serves steak and whether they can afford to order one.
Use pre-reading activities to prepare students for reading
The activities you use during pre-reading may serve as preparation in several ways. During pre-reading you may:
Sample pre-reading activities:
Pre-reading activities are most important at lower levels of language proficiency and at earlier stages of reading instruction. As students become more proficient at using reading strategies, you will be able to reduce the amount of guided pre-reading and allow students to do these activities themselves.
Match while-reading activities to the purpose for reading
In while-reading activities, students check their comprehension as they read. The purpose for reading determines the appropriate type and level of comprehension.
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