How can you help your students to be effective L2 readers?
1. Follow a logical lesson plan. A typical Presentation-Practice-Production (PPP) Reading lesson would follow this staging:
• Lead-in – Encourage interest in the topic and activate your students’ schema (i.e. Top-Down) about the topic.
• Pre-reading – A prediction task (using contextual information in the title, sections, and associated images) will further prepare students for the text or pre-teach keywords of the text before students are exposed to the text (containing the pre-taught lexis in context) to enable better comprehension and to minimize dictionary look-up time (i.e. Bottom-Up).
• Extensive reading – A gist comprehension task for students to skim the text and achieve an overall understanding of the topic, themes, or main ideas.
• Intensive reading – A specific comprehension task for students to scan the text ad achieve a specific understanding of a shorter (part of) text or even a single word if the focus is lexical.
• Further comprehension – An additional task to explore other elements of the text, such as the writer’s attitude or viewpoint.
• Cooler – A task to allow students to offer their personal reaction to the text or topic through oral discussion and to consolidate the content of the lesson. 2. Read the text aloud. Could you read texts aloud (live or as an audio file) to your students? This would assist with phonology, sight words, and awareness of the letter-sound relationship. It may be appropriate to invite students to read aloud, but bear in mind this activity is time-hungry in a lesson and may create unnecessary anxiety about reading in real-time and in front of peers.
3. Use a gloss. For more challenging texts, you may occasionally wish to gloss the new words rather than pre-teach them. Jacobs et al (1994) found students preferred the inclusion (rather than the exclusion) of glosses and for them to be in the L1 and positioned at the margin of a text (not at the end). Note that an over-reliance on glosses could result in the under-development of strategies and dictionary skills.
4. Be aware of individual differences. Individual differences play a key role in Reading. Many variables will come into play including age, socio-economic status, exposure and attitude to L1 Reading, reading speeds (this can vary between 100–300 words per minute) use and non-use of strategies, self-efficacy, and motivation.
5. Flip your classroom. Can you flip your lessons sometimes? Ask students to read longer Reading texts before the lesson. You could also record your own audio file of the text (see point 2) and send these to students before the lesson. This asynchronous element encourages autonomy, reduces anxiety, and saves valuable classroom time.
6. Use the real world.