Building reading competence seems to be a bit more challenging these days. Maybe it’s just me, but students seem quite reluctant or incapable of guessing while reading. We have to provide a comfortable environment to encourage guessing. Moreover, teachers need to find ways of attracting students to reading of any kind-for information [see http://flava2011.wikispaces.com%5D and for pleasure. I feel it’s somehow related to our testing culture that demands ‘the right answer.’ So how can we build reading? –By following what good parents do with children as they grow. Read children’s books to your students-in class or in a reading circle on the floor in the library. Let students read for fun without an assignment attached. Or, read with a fun assignment. Read song lyrics and use them for a variety of reading steps: pick out words you can guess, pick out verbs that look similar to ones you’ve seen recently, which activities refer to a future event?, which phrases use an object pronoun? Which words go along with our area of study [Earth Day for example] Look at a related website and repeat the steps above. When does the song change from lyrics in one language to another? Link reading to a visual and show the visual first-a personal video, a tourism clip, a feature film. I used to think this was the reward after the reading, but so many topics can be enhanced if you teach about them saying: remember when you saw… [A previous student’s video about daily routines, the advertisement for the Col Vert campground, Petit Nicolas, The Phantom of the Opera are such examples worth a preview.
As students abilities progress from catching words and phrases to understanding details, the assignments and readings can become more involved. However, to remind students and yourselves of the joy of reading, check out Daniel Pennac’s The Rights of the Reader. Also, allow students to create the guidelines for reading rubrics or documentation. Then push the action of reading in various modes: silently reading to yourself, teacher reading with excessive expression to aid comprehension, student group silent reading, student group reading aloud. Encourage students to pause and pick out key words or ideas/summaries to avoid painful translating. Other strategies follow:
Reading Comprehension/Creative Responses
• Sequencing: have students run to the front of the room with one sentence about a part of the story. Students come up with the sentences (or you can write them for the first go-round) and then put them in order. They may not repeat something someone else has said, so they have an advantage of writing quickly. For those who are stuck, you can allow them to look again at the story, but no one is allowed to quote directly.
• Comprehension-all of the statements about the story are somehow false/wrong. What needs to be corrected?
• Find a current event on line related to the story we read. Explain how it is relevant. Or to start, you make the connections.
• Pretend that you are a character from the story. Dress up and act out a scene.
• Read and answer questions in English to prove comprehension.
• Tea party-have tea and discuss your opinions about an author/story.
• Culture lessons-what is the history, cultural practice, art behind the story?
• Take offs-See my FLAVA presentation wiki for a creative response list
• Songs-find a song that represents a story you read and explain the connection. The song can be in English or the target language.
• Draw what happened in the story, no words. Or explain how drawings/clip art you show relates to the story
• write a list of 10 key vocabulary words that you had to understand in order to get the story
• write a list of 10 key words that would help you summarize the story
• write a letter recommending or not this reading to a friend
• find a picture that targets a topic of the story; insert it into voicethread.com and have students record their comments
• use songsmith from microsoft and create your own song that responds to the story
• use journals for students to write a personal response to the reading-when was a time you felt like the main character, experienced the same as in the story, etc Play music while they are writing and set a time limit.
• If at first the readings are too hard, you write the summaries and have students match the sentences to a specific number of lines in the story.