How to deal with long and difficult reading texts 2

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How to deal with long and difficult reading texts 2

Unread postby ngoclinh » 14 Dec 2005, 10:57

Dear Lucy,
Thank you so much for your suggestions. I was very happy when I received your reply. I used to join many forums in ELT and ask questions but either my questions are left unanswered or the answers come very late and unsatisfactory. To be honest, I didn’t think that I would receive such a personal message in such a short time with so many practical tips concerning teaching reading. Today I came to class and tried some ideas you suggested to me and found them very useful. Before asking students to read the text in detail I put some new words which I want them to learn on the board and get them speed read to locate those words in the text. As a result, my students seem very focused on the text. Because the topic of the text is ‘MACHINE TRANSLATION’, after reading I ask them to work in groups and discuss the question ‘you are to persuade your friend not to buy a translation machine. What would you say?’. That is much better than getting students to list the disadvantages of an MT.
However, there are still several things that I need your explanation. You said that I can use the texts for language work. Could you be more specific? How to carry out?
Also, after reading, students could prepare a press release or information for a publicity campaign. Again, how should I carry out that? It seem very new to me.
The topics in the textbook are: artificial intelligence, robotics, multimedia, computer graphic, virtual reality, computers in medicine/in education/office. Computer viruses/security/networks/software, programming languages…. Do you have any ideas about the activities that could be used for these topics?
My biggest problem is that I often don’t know how to organize the activities to achieve the best results. For example, when I ask students to persuade their friend not to buy a machine translation I cannot decide whether I should use groupwork or pair work or whole class. And I don’t know how to make the steps go smoothly. I would be grateful if you could give me some advice.
Because the texts are very long and difficult, I look for ways to reveal the text gradually without overwhelming students. You know, students often get demotivated and discouraged being asked to read something long and difficult at one time. Any suggestions on some warmers and ways to reveal texts gradually?
If possible, could you recommend to me some website that may be useful for a teacher of English for Information Technology? I find very few website devoted to ESP on the net.
Lucy, I hope that you will not be bothered by so many questions. I am too greedy, right? But I am so interested in teaching methodology that I couldn’t help asking questions. In the future I will ask you many more questions and I hope that you will help me to answer them.
Wish you a great week.
Look forward to your reply
Cheers
ngoclinh
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dealing with long and difficult reading texts 2

Unread postby Lucy » 16 Dec 2005, 16:19

Thank you for your reply. I am glad you and your student enjoyed the activities.

I’ll try to answer some of your questions here and others in a separate posting. First of all, you wanted to know about organizing activities. Taking the text on machine translation as an example, I would suggest that you go through the following stages.

Start with a warmer
Pre-teach vocabulary and / or do a short activity to focus on the new vocabulary
Ask students to speed read the text for specific information (e.g. how much does an MT cost?)
Students read a second time to answer more detailed questions
Do language work (I’ll do this in more detail in another posting)
Do an activity that stems out of the text. For example, your idea of persuading a friend not to buy an MT.

You might not always cover all these activities in one lesson. Some might be done in a second lesson or for homework.

You ask how to organise the last activity. I think your idea of doing group work is excellent. It’s best if students do this in pairs or small groups because everybody gets the chance to speak. You can listen to students and note down any mistakes they make and examples of good work or use of new vocabulary. When everybody or most people have finished, students can briefly report to the whole group what they discussed. You can then focus on the errors you noted, without saying who made the mistake. You could write the error on the board and ask students to correct it. If nobody finds the correction, explain it yourself. Also go over aspects that you think went well.

For the activity about a press release or advertisement, tell students they are to imagine that they work for a firm that produces computers. They have created a new design (e.g. an updated version of an MT) and are about to launch it on the market. They need to decide what information to include in an ad; they could also decide what information to give to a journalist who is going to write an article about the new product. The ad might be more interesting because students could even produce the ad themselves.

I hope this will be of use. Please don’t hesitate to write in again with more questions.


Lucy
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Long and difficult reading texts 2

Unread postby Lucy » 18 Dec 2005, 17:49

For language work, go through the text and look for language points that are repeated. You can choose one or more of these and use them for in-depth language study.

For example, you might have a phrase like the following in the text:

“This software is useful for calculating”
or
“This software is used to carry out calculations”

You can ask students to focus on the sentences and to explain why the “ing” form is used or why the infinitive is used. From there you can do further language study and some form of practice of the new language.

You could also pick vocabulary items and use them to build up a bank. For example, the verb “to programme” might feature in one of the texts. After focusing on this word, ask students to provide the corresponding noun, adjective etc. In the example of “to programme”, the nouns would be a programme, a programmer. The same could be done with to install, installation etc. I am not very familiar with computer jargon, but I think you’ll get the gist from my examples.

After focusing on the vocabulary, do an exercise that involves students using the words. This could take the form of filling in gaps in sentences. An alternative is to ask students to write sentences using the words. If you keep a record of all vocabulary studied, you can use it later for warmers or games at the end of a lesson.

Please write in again if you would like to know more about these ideas or about anything else.

Lucy
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