I love Reading
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I love Reading
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- October 08 2014
I love reading
by Luca Biercsak
The best that a teacher can do is create an interest in the subject so that students will learn it themselves. I have always taken this very seriously and tried to share my enthusiasm for the language with them. I have raised their awareness of the various ways in which they can practise English outside the realms of the classroom, making English their own, going from language learner to language user.
I love reading. If only I could instil this feeling in my students. More often than not I am faced with the problem of students telling me point blank they do not like reading. Full stop. End of story. Where do we go from here?
I’ll try to share with you some strategies I have so far adopted in my pursuit of the impossible.
1. Set an example. I never miss an opportunity to share my book experiences with them and recommend it to them. I bring the book to class and let them have a look. I also give them a short, but enthusiastic review of the book.
2. Explain the purpose of reading. For people who like reading, reading does not require a purpose. The purpose of reading is reading itself: the pleasure of being absorbed by the story and forgetting about your own life for a while. However, the reason why some people don’t like reading might be that they remember reading a bad book or being forced to read, so unless you succeed with strategy #1, you may never be able to persuade them. If that is the case, you can still try explaining to them that reading will have beneficial effects on their learning process. What are some of these?
They can learn about cohesion and understand how paragraphs work.
They can learn new words. Although I try to discourage them from using a dictionary when they read extensively (for pleasure), they can still learn new words. You do not have to check a word in a dictionary to be able to guess its meaning based on the context. If they do use the dictionary occasionally, they can learn even more words.
They can learn how grammar works by observing words and phrases in their natural habitat. For example, they can understand the role of all those past tenses they had to learn. Let’s have a look at the example below (excerpt from Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland).
The above is only the first two paragraphs of the book, but already we can see the full range of narrative tenses at work. This will not only help them understand how these structures work, but also see the point of having to learn them in the first place. If nothing else, this should convince your students to do some reading.
3. Give them possibilities. Show them what they can choose from. When it comes to reading materials, the possibilities extend way beyond books. Bring newspapers and magazines to class. Tell them to find a website related to their passion or hobby. For example, if they like running, they should find a professional running website. Tell them to read some reviews before going to the cinema to make sure the film is worth watching.
4. Bring authentic reading materials to class. Naturally you can only do that in a group at B1 level at least and you will need to be careful with your choice of authentic materials. A lifestyle magazine will probably be easier than a novel or a newspaper article. Still, it is worth doing since a lot of students become demotivated and frustrated by being presented with artificial reading materials that have been ’dumbed down’ to their level (I am using their own words). By giving them ’real life’ reading materials, you might show them that there IS a point in learning English.
I hope you will try some of the above strategies and that they will work for you. Good luck!