2 Widening your students’ reading repertoire

Students need to learn the reading strategies that different information-based texts require. They need opportunities to practise reading for information, and to talk about what they have read, in order to internalise the new language and concepts that they have encountered.

Case Study 1: Widening students’ reading repertoires

Mr Gaurav is a Class VIII teacher in Faizabad. Here he describes how he attempts to widen his students’ reading repertoire in class by reading information-based texts aloud to them.

I often read aloud to my students, but instead of a story or a poem, I sometimes choose a short article from the newspaper that I think they will find interesting. I think it is helpful for them to listen to different types of written texts. It also informs them about the world we live in.

Last month, I began by introducing the topic of cosmetic testing on animals and asked my students what they knew about it. I wrote some of the key words used in this introductory discussion on the blackboard. I then asked my students to listen to me read out the article [in Resource 1] with the following question in mind: ‘What is the article about?’ I then read the article slowly, pausing to explain any unfamiliar vocabulary, such as ‘compassion’, ‘countless’, ‘outsourcing’ and ‘jurisdiction’. As I wrote the words on the blackboard, I asked if anyone could explain what they meant.

When I had finished, I asked my students to talk briefly in pairs about what they thought the article was about. After a brief feedback session, I wrote three more focused questions on the blackboard:

  • ‘Do you think this ban is a positive step? Why, or why not?’
  • ‘Should we care if animals suffer?’
  • ‘The beauty industry is very big in India. Do you think these laws will affect our economy badly?’

I placed two pairs of students together and asked each group of four to consider one of the questions listed as I read the article again. When they had finished discussing the question, I asked a volunteer to report back their thoughts to the rest of the class.

Since then, I have varied this activity by using different articles, and getting my students to think of suitable questions for the second re-reading themselves. I have also encouraged them to note down any words or expressions that they can’t understand, rather than me anticipating these myself. I have also started to give my students a copy of the text after I have read aloud once and they have had an initial discussion about it. They then read it themselves before considering the more focused set of questions.

I usually follow up the reading activity by getting my students to write out the article in their own words, or explain their views on the issues discussed in an essay.

You can learn more about the benefits of groupwork in Resource 2.

Now try Activity 2.

Activity 2: Developing your students’ reading repertoires

Taking Case Study 1 as a guide, choose a short newspaper or magazine article to read aloud to your class. Decide how it will fit into your lesson plans. How can you link to one of the topics that you are currently teaching? Discuss your ideas with your colleagues.

  • Show your students the magazine or newspaper that the article comes from. Make it evident that you find the topic interesting and that you think your students will be interested in it too.
  • Show your students any photographs or diagrams that accompany the article.
  • Explain the meaning of any unfamiliar words and phrases before reading it.
  • Pose your students one or two questions at the start to give them a reason for listening.
  • Read the text aloud slowly, pausing to explain the new words and phrases in context.
  • Invite your students to discuss the initial question together before setting them one or two further questions to consider during your re-reading of the text.
  • As your students gain confidence, give them a copy of the passage to read in pairs or small groups instead of you re-reading the article yourself.
  • Allow your students to discuss these questions in pairs or groups and bring the class together for a final feedback session.
  • Note down the words and phrases that you can include in a spelling or comprehension test on another day.

1 Learning to read for information

3 Using anticipation guides