Reading Activities for EFL classes
22 January 2014
Presenter: Alina Mardari, university
lecturer, SPU “Ion Creanga”, Chisinau
Up Against the Wall
Aims: Practise reading for main ideas
Class Time: Varies depending on the
length of the reading passage
Resources: Reading texts from books
1. Make up one question for each main idea of
the reading passage. For beginning classes ,
these can be true/false, cloze with a choice, or
2. Cut the passage into sections according to its
paragraphs. Fasten the paragraphs to the
walls of the classroom, making sure that each
paragraph can be read easily by several
people at the same time.
3. Place the students in pairs, and give each pair
one question. Instruct the students to read the
paragraphs on the walls of the classroom until
they find the answer to their question.
4. When they have returned to their seats,
distribute copies of the complete reading
passage and go over the answers.
Caveats and Options
1. For more proficient readers , use questions
that require students to make inferences.
2. With more proficient readers , ask questions
that can not be answered by reading the
3. To encourage more group work , have pairs
with the same question discuss their answers.
4. Use the activity as a pre-reading or whilereading activity.
Mixed Up Comprehension
Resources: Passages from students’ reading text
or other sources.
Class Time: 30-45 minutes
15-year-old girl found asleep on a
Where was the girl discovered?
Who saw her?
When did he see her?
Who did he call?
When did they arrive?
What did they think she was doing there?
What was she doing in fact?
Who did they call?
How long did it take them to rescue her?
What did the police discover after speaking to the girl’s
11. How had she been able to enter the building site?
12. Had she done that before?
Yesterday a 15-year-old girl was discovered
lying on top of a 40-metre-high crane. A passerby saw her when he was walking past a building
site in Dulwich, south-east London, and
immediately called the police. The police and the
fire brigade arrived at 1.30 in the morning. At
first they thought the girl was suicidal but when a
fireman climbed up the crane he realized she was
asleep. The fireman crawled along the crane and
carefully put a safety harness on the girl. Then
the fireman called the girl’s parents, who came
quickly to the building site. The rescue took two
hours and the girl was brought safely down from
the crane on a ladder.
After talking to her parents, the police
discovered that the girl had been sleepwalking.
She had left her house during the night, and
had been able to get into the building site
because the security guard was watching TV.
Her parents said that it wasn’t the first time
that she had sleepwalked, and she had never
left the house before.
1. Make up 5-10 comprehension questions based
on the reading passage selected.
2. Write the questions on the board or the
questions prepared on a handout.
3. Have students write a reading passage that
answers the questions. The students can use their
imagination and write anything, but the passage
must be able to answer every question.
4. Read the stories out aloud.
5. Compare with original reading.
Getting the Idea
Levels: Intermediate +
Reduce students’ dependency on a dictionary.
Encourage students’ acceptance of uncertainty
Discourage excessive concern over the meaning
of every word in a passage
Cultivate the habit of general reading in English
Class time: 50 minutes
Preparation time: 20 minutes
Resources: any reading passage
1. Select a suitable text and give it a title or heading in
necessary. Replace the main ideas with blank spaces
2. Divide the class into groups of four or five students
and provide each student with a copy of the
3. Ask the students, working in groups, to examine the
passage, discuss it, and then write group summaries
of what they think the main ideas are.
4. Allow approximately 10 minutes for the students to
complete the task, then collect the summaries and
the copies of the text.
5. Provide each student with an undoctored copy of the
passage. The groups read it and write the second
6. Display both variants of the summaries on the
blackboard. Ask the class as a whole to identify any
differences, if any, between the summaries in each set
and discuss their significance. For example, do any
changes in the second summary really add to an
understanding of the main idea of the passage?
7. Round off the exercise with a look at any unfamiliar
words. Check if the students have correctly inferred
their meanings. Finally, ask them weather their
understanding of these words changes the gist of the
Caveats and Options
1. The whole or general meaning is contained in
the parts of the passage the students first see
and in the title, so the deleted words may
provide details. Students can see, however, that
they have little or no impact on the general
2. Without the frantic pursuit of word-to-word
understanding implicit in intensive reading ,
students gain the confidence to employ the
inference and prediction skills already learnt and
to accept uncertainty as normal.
Ten Things to do Before Reading
1. Ask students to brainstorm for answers to the
following questions, then write the ideas on the
• Look at the title and the headings for each section.
What do you think this passage is going to be about?
• Look at the pictures. What do you think this passage
is going to be about?
• Read the first and the last paragraphs and the first
sentence of each paragraph. What do you think the
passage is going to be about?
• Read the title. Now quickly scan the passage and
circle all the words that have a connection to the
• Scan the passage and cross out all the words you
do not know. After you read the passage again
carefully, look up the words in a dictionary.
• After looking at the title, pictures and so on,
brainstorm the specific words you expect to see in
• After looking at the title and pictures, make up
some questions you think the passage might
• What kind of passage is this? (fiction? nonfiction?) Why would somebody read this? For
2. Choose words from the passage and write
them on the board. Ask students to scan the
passage and circle them.
3. Tell a story about the background of the
reading passage, or summarize the passage
itself. Ask students to take notes or draw a
picture of the story as you speak.
4. Have everyone read the passage.