Teaching reading can be difficult depending on the students. Some are naturally interested and find reading enjoying, others need more than a little push. Prompted by the “Teach English Now! Second Language Reading, Writing, and Grammar” course I’m doing on Coursera (it’s free so you can also join if you’d like) I was thinking about what kind of texts can we use in the classes, and what kinds I enjoy teaching.
Reading shouldn’t be a chore. For me, it’s never been, so I have to make an actual effort to understand the reluctance of others. But who can resist something with a funny ending?
- Alberto’s new neighbours even includes pre- and post-reading exercises to use in the class.
- Dr W. H. Williams’ poem in a brilliant performance feels like every one of us when faced with Einstein’s theories
- This story is also a story with a moral but it presents it in a fun way: Hung by a Hair
- Another type of stories is when you give a number of words that a computer fairy automatically builds into the story. It really is a lot of fun, check them here.
Stories with a moral
You might argue that all stories have a moral, something they want to teach but I think in fables these teachings come through easily.
- The Stonecutter is a lovely tale from the Asian mythology about power. Also includes exercises.
- Another one courtesy of the British Council is about the dangers of jumping to quick conclusions.
- 7 more fables here
Original from famous writers
The might be known in translation to the learner’s natve language and the sheer excitement of being able to read and understand it in English is enough to last the lesson.
- Shakespeare is a classic example to this and there are some poems, sonnets that are not as difficult as most of his work. Another British Council example includes exercises as well.
- A longer story from Agatha Christie: The Shadow on the Glass also with listening
- Rudyard Kipling’s poem, If, without exercises but with a wordlist
It’s good to talk about recent events that the students might already know about and relate to. This website hosts a number of them in different levels.
These types of stories work not just the understanding of the text but also the logic to put together the clues.
There are of course literally zillions of specifically developed texts and stories for language learners at different levels, practicing certain vocabulary or grammar topics.
Do you have any favourite stories you’ve used in your classes before? Or any stories you remember using to learn a language? Let me know in the comments.