STANDARDS: Communication 1.1, 1.2


Language:Any language. Example in Spanish .

Proficiency Level: Beginning

Brief description of the activity: Students will read a passage just beyond their reading level. They will work in small groups to read aloud and discuss unfamiliar words.


  1. Students will develop reading skills associated with poetry.
  2. Students will explore the target culture through well-known poems.
  3. Students will be able to sound word and phrases out to help them read unfamiliar words.
  4. Student will be able to cooperate with others (and use human resources) to help complete a difficult task.

Language focus:Reading

Materials:A poem in Spanish that contains some words that are unfamiliar to the students.For example, a poem by Cervantes: "Al túmulo del Rey Felipe II en Sevilla" or "A la entrada del duque de Medina en Cádiz" ( http://sonnets.spanish.sbc.edu/Cervantes.html)


  1. Introduce the content
    Tell learners that they are going to read a passage and discuss it as a class. To warm up, ask them what they know about poetry. List the characteristics of poetry that they bring up: rhyme, rhythm, repetition, and so on in the target language. Ask students how they feel when reading a poem and finding an unknown word. Ask what they normally do in that situation (look it up, ask a friend, ask the teacher).
  2. Introduce and model the learning strategy
    Tell students that it is very useful to work with a partner to try to figure out unfamiliar words in a reading passage. Pretend that you are a student and asks for a volunteer to work with you. Read a passage out loud and sound out each word that you "don't know." Ask your partner to help you with the words. By pronouncing the words out loud and working with a partner, you can often guess what the word means.

    Tell learners that cooperating is a valuable strategy for language learning. Have them describe some examples of situations where cooperating would be useful.
  3. Practice
    Distribute a short reading passage to students that contains some words that they do not know. Students begin reading aloud, practicing different highlighted words in the passage. Encourage students to cooperate by working together to practice pronunciation and to decipher the meaning of the words. After reading, discuss the process and passage together.

    As a class brainstorm how working with others can help language learning.


  1. Have learners retell the passage in a modern context (like Romeo and Juliet/West Side Story).
  2. Encourage students to work together on longer passages and other language learning tasks..

Teacher Resources (to help teacher enhance activity):
Internet resources, passages from current print or textbooks.

Adapted from an activity submitted by Tammie S. Anderson, Fairfax County Public Schools.