The “Getting Students to Read” Problem

For general discussion between teachers

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The “Getting Students to Read” Problem

Unread postby linuskea » 23 Jun 2009, 12:29

In some EFL/ESL teaching settings, students do not necessarily value reading. It is a constant struggle for teachers to get students to read in and out of class. When faced with such an attitudinal or motivational problem, teachers are often at a loss about what to do.
Although there is no single or simple way to change students’ attitudes toward reading, there are things teachers can try. First, we can begin with the following assumption: “People learn better when what they are studying has considerable meaning for them…when it really comes out of their own lives…when it is something that they can in some way commit themselves to or invest themselves in.” Second, we can work at discovering what brings meaning to the life of each student in our classes. We can do this by observing students: What do they talk about? Show interest in? Carry around with them? Some nonreaders will red if the reading matches their interest, such as learning to develop photos or learning to cook. When given the right conditions, problem readers will spend time reading because they have an invested interest in learning something they consider to be important or useful.
Third, we can do our best to introduce students to readings that match their interests, mostly through extensive reading activities. By putting together putting together a library collection that includes the readings and content in which students express interest, we can most easily guide students toward materials that interest them. Such a collection for adults includes mysteries, how-to books, old letters, grammar books, catalogs, sports magazines, newspaper clippings, poems, menus, and adventure stories.

Peter Easton
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Re: The “Getting Students to Read” Problem

Unread postby Peter Easton » 27 Jun 2009, 05:49

Recommendations should be tailored to each individual, depending on their occupation / aspirations and biographies should constitute the core of that.

Employ your time in improving yourself by other men's writings, so that you shall gain easily what others have laboured hard for.” Socrates

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Re: The “Getting Students to Read” Problem

Unread postby petershell » 17 Nov 2009, 14:44

Of course content is extremely important but one thing that should not be overlooked is the difficulty level. If the level is too easy students may feel insulted and also that they are wasting their time. If the level is too high most students will be loathe to tackle it and have to put in a lot of effort. A level that just challenges the students a bit, but is mostly comprehensible, is what has worked best in my classes.
Also, I find that coming up with a good introduction to the lesson helps to stimulate interest. For example, a related picture that they can comment on and also use to guess what the reading will be about. Pre-teaching the difficult vocabulary helps the students to feel prepared to handle the reading. Eliciting the words where possible and explaining by means of actions or drawings can be a good way to captivate students attention if you know your students and what will amuse them.

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