This post gives EFL teachers some tips on how to make the reading comprehension activity accessible and motivating for students, describing how to create the basic motivational conditions and generate the initial motivation for reading comprehension in the classroom.
Motivation is one of the key factors that provides the main incentive to learn a foreign language. Without sufficient motivation, students cannot achieve long-term goals even if they own the best of abilities. So, the role of teachers is not only teaching the curriculum, but also motivating their students.
For teaching reading, the mission of motivating students is a great challenge as they come with different emotional and psychological interests. However, using authentic reading texts remains one way of motivating students and making the task of reading in a foreign language interesting for them.
Tips on creating the basic motivational conditions:
- Create a pleasant and supportive learning environment. The friendly and supportive atmosphere will encourage students to develop their full potential and achieve required goals.
- Set rules or a class contract between yourself and your class regarding behavior and norms which everyone agrees to.
- Divide the class into groups depending on your knowledge about students’ interests, levels, skills and points of strength. Encourage peer support within these groups.
Tips on generating initial motivation & maintaining it:
- Inform students of the reasons why they are being asked to read authentic texts and explain the benefits to them. E.g., exposure to real English, developing language awareness, promoting language competence, exposure to real-life vocabulary, developing knowledge of the culture of the target language and, overall, contributing to achieving long-term language learning goals. Tell students that they should enjoy while doing the reading activity.
- Give a brief description of the reading text and try to make this description interesting and motivating.
- Relate the reading task to students’ culture and general knowledge.
- Give the needed information that help students’ understanding and learning of new vocabulary.
- Make sure that the reading text is appropriate to students’ learning level. It is important as too low level of challenge can result in lack of interest, and too high level can lead to over-anxiety or stress. The word challenge here refers to the task which is not easy but that can be overcome by giving students needed support and encouragement.
- Explain how to work with the reading text. E.g. There will be 2-minute-first-silent reading to do a pre-task, then there will be intensive reading for more details, etc.
- Encourage students to think about their approaches to reading and how to build their confidence. All fears they may have about not understanding every word so you should emphasize that 100 percent comprehension is not necessary to understand the overall meaning. Encourage them to use all available and relevant clues from the language, the context and from the illustrations to help make sense of the reading text.
- Train students on using reading comprehension strategies such as previewing, skimming and scanning, inferring meaning etc.
- Provide a point of entry. This could be a scene from a story, an illustration or any paragraph can be looked at or read in class before starting the actual reading. This entry will help the reading material to be more accessible to students and sufficiently stimulating to arouse their interest in the setting, characters, and narration of the text It can provide a starting point and a future point of reference throughout the reading.
- Provide a pre-reading task. This is before reading stage. E.g., previewing the title or the sub-headings. Pre-reading tasks can stimulate students’ interest, introduce characters and setting in a story, relate the text to what students already know, etc.
- Inform students of the final goal of the reading activity, whether it is acting out a story, producing a poster, role-playing a dialogue, writing a summary or a letter, organizing a project, etc. Knowing that their work is leading towards something concrete and relevant can help students focus throughout the reading process.
If you want more practical tips to teach reading comprehension in the classroom, you can buy my latest eBook: Teaching Reading Comprehension to ESL/EFL Learners: A Practical Classroom Guide With Sample Reading Lesson Plans. Although it costs little but it includes much benefit especially for ESL/EFL teachers who search for practical steps that engage their students in reading and produce positive results. The main ideas tackled in this eBook are:
- The nature of reading comprehension.
- What should be done before starting a reading lesson.
- Reading comprehension strategies and activities.
- How to work with a reading text.
- How to plan a reading lesson (with a model reading lesson plan).
- How to develop your students’ reading comprehension so as to be efficient & advanced.
By selling this eBook, you will not only have control on teaching reading comprehension in the classroom but also you will support me with little money to continue my mission of helping ESL/EFL teachers teach English language more effectively.