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Reading for Children

Let's Make Reading Fun!

April 05, 2010

Readers that Complement Course Books

Thanks for dropping by my first post to ELT News. Over the coming months I will be posting games, activities and other ideas relating to children's reading. I hope you find these practical, informative and helpful. Please feel free to contribute with any questions, feedback or suggestions that you may have.

Last December I attended and presented at the Kansai ETJ Teaching Expo in Osaka. One question I was asked by quite a few teachers was "How can I use readers to most effectively benefit my students?". I believe one very effective method is to use readers that directly complement the course book students are studying from. Through doing this we can indirectly highlight connections within the language for students, help reinforce language, allow students to view the language in context and help students to absorb the language at a deeper level.

For the purpose of this post I’d like to illustrate how we use readers at our school, and how I personally believe readers can be most effective and beneficial to students.

Please take a moment to watch the video below, as I will refer to it from time to time in the rest of this post.

Reading is an integral part of our curriculum and we incorporate it into all weekly classes and students’ weekly homework. Let me first say that the readers we use at our school complement the course book that we use. The readers have been written in a way that each unit of the course book has a corresponding story in the respective reader, targeting the phonics, vocabulary or language structure from the given unit of the course book. This is a very effective way to use readers and allows us to incorporate our weekly story into our usual class plan. By this I mean whatever games, or activities (whether we are using conversation, writing or listening skills) we are planning to use to target the language in our course book unit of study, these activities automatically complement our stories also. Through this, we can then become more creative with how we approach our in-class reading by incorporating all kinds of activities into our reading.

If you watched the above video, you will have noticed how we drilled the phonic target -er (which was from the current unit in the course book), then our vocabulary targets for the unit (which are -er occupations). These kinds of activities can of course be done in the form of a drill, game or writing activity, as you would normally do in class. However, with the reader that we are using, because the phonics, vocabulary and language structures in each story directly complement the phonics, vocabulary and language structures in the course book, we can go one step further and also incorporate our stories and reading activity because they tie in directly with the study we are doing in class.

You will have also noticed how each of the students chose an occupation vocabulary card and placed it in front of them when we read the story together. As a student finished reading a passage from the story, they then nominated the next reader by using the target language structure from the current unit of study from the course book, ‘He / She’s a (boxer).’ By being creative with how we approach reading in class we can make reading a multi-dimensional activity where we include not only reading, but other elements of the 4 skills into reading. Again, through doing this we can indirectly highlight connections within the language for students, help reinforce language, allow students to view the language in context and help students to absorb the language at a deeper level.

Finally, we used the questions to students at the end of the story to incorporate conversation into the activity.

If you don’t currently have a reading program in you school, I highly recommend starting one. Reading benefits everyone. Furthermore, if there is a reader available that directly complements the course book you are using, I urge you to try it with your students.

Have fun reading!


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Good post Greg.

Yes, it's always important to have children make the connections from multiple sources (like readers) for deeper understanding.

Great text book example of purposeful acquisition, I learned and benefited from your instructional techniques. Thank you for your post, I look forward to incorporating your skills into my own classes.

Thanks for the feedback Nathaniel and I'm glad you found something useful in the post. Please check back regularly, as I'll be putting up useful classroom activities incorporating reading every month.

All the best,



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