When teaching reading there is a fine line between helping your students develop reading skills and testing their ability to read. This is something that my participants on the TESOL course often struggle with. Here are a few tips we give our teachers to help them help their students :):
1. Tell your students what they are learning. When you have a reading lesson the students may have never learned reading sub skills in their first language, so let them know what they are learning and why! When you teach vocabulary or grammar you can elicit the topic of the lesson or tell the students. The same goes for reading.
2. Know what you are teaching! What sub skills are you helping your students develop? For example, you can teach your students how to skim for the main idea, scan for details, infer the meaning of vocabulary from the situation in the reading, read intensively for the greatest level of detail, and infer based on the situation in the reading the answers to detailed questions.
3. Give your students tips to help them develop the skills. Let your students know HOW to skim, scan, and intensively read. What do they do with their eyes? What are they looking for? How long should it take? If they have an idea how to do it, like when you are developing a muscle, they can recognize what works and what doesn’t work.
4. Set the reading task before they read. If the students know what they are doing while they are reading they can actively use the skill that is needed. When they look without having a task or question, they will try to memorize the information (like for a test) instead of focusing on the appropriate reading method.
We are starting our reading lessons this Friday. With these tips in mind my participants are planning as I write this. What I hope is to see teaching…teaching…1, 2, 3 and not testing :). This is a great group so I have high expectations!