How to Help Your Students
Learn to Read English

Learn to read EnglishIf you want to help your students learn to read English you need to give them some guidelines, and some interesting materials to read. Here are some suggestions to keep your reading lessons fresh and useful.

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Tips to Teach Your Students to Learn to Read English

The first thing you need to do is find interesting texts. No students want to read if they have boring texts. If you can find real news stories or magazine articles then that is much better but make sure the vocabulary and grammar isn’t too difficult. You can also use excerpts from books or scripts, or song lyrics, depending on the level of the group.

Finding interesting texts for beginners can be more difficult. You need to reinforce the vocabulary they know rather than give them too many new words, which means it is difficult for them to understand the text. Of course you can use children’s picture books, but if you are teaching teenagers or adults these often won't be appropriate. And even kids' books can use a lot of new words. One option if you have a very low level class is to use the English Short Stories for Complete Beginners. This will help them read but won't give them complicated vocabulary.

Teaching your students to use dictionaries is important at every level. Either a bi-lingual dictionary or a picture dictionary for lower levels, or a single language dictionary for advanced students. Encourage them to look up words they don't know, and not guess them. If a student looks up a word, they are more likely to remember it, and you can be sure they understand the meaning.

In class, reading can become a little boring. You can make your reading lessons livelier by trying some of the following techniques. Most of them can be adapted to suit any level.

Running dictation

Put a short reading passage on a wall somewhere. Students are in pairs, one goes to the text, remembers a section of it, goes to their partner and repeats it. The seated partner writes exactly what their ‘running' partner says. Check for spelling and punctuation at the end.

Jigsaw reading

Each pair of students has two connected texts. Each reads and then gives their partner a summary of their text.

Comprehension questions

Instead of you giving the students the comprehension questions, get them to write their own.

Memory quiz

Ask questions to see how much the students remember.

Re-arranging the text

Cut the text up in sections. Place them around the class. Students work in small groups to find a complete set and put them in order.

Grammar or vocabulary races

Ask them to find an example of a certain grammar point or a synonym for another word. They raise their hand when they find it.

If you want your students to learn to read English then the most important thing they can do is practice. That isn't something you can force them to do. Make them aware of where they can get appropriate reading material and you will be giving them the best help you can.

Click here for interesting yet simple short stories for practicing the sounds of the alphabet.

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