Sunday, 22 September 2013

#ELTchat Summary 18th September 2013 How to Exploit Reading Texts

How to Exploit Reading Texts.

An Authentic text

This was an interesting discussion, with a group of international participants, all experienced teachers and material designers, sharing their advice.

@MarjorieRosenbe, fresh from her break, started off by asking the direction of the chat: 
Is this any type of text; classroom and homework activities?
@Charlesrei1 mentioned that he was less confident exploiting texts than images, and was therefore looking forward to the discussion. He also mentioned that he worried that text based lessons could fall flat if the topic held no appeal for the class and hadn't yet found a way to revive them.

@worldteacher talked about a workshop on exploiting 50-word texts she had attended. The speaker had suggested that it was possible to derive 4 hours of lessons from one text.

It was agreed that authentic texts were not only for advanced students and that texts of all levels need to be made accessible to the class, whatever their level. @MarjorieRosenbe’s students are delighted when they are able read an authentic text , and having fun with texts, to activate vocabulary and give students confidence was a major factor in her use of them in her University classroom.
 @Marisa_C shared her pinboard for simple texts, as they are less easy to find  .She also suggested  for texts at different levels of complexity, on the same topic.
The provenance of texts was questioned. Do we just use Native speaker English, or can texts be taken from a variety of Non-native speaker sources. It appeared that the use of NNS sources was dependent on the teaching context, country, and the time available in the curriculum.

@touqo asked how copyright is dealt with when exploiting texts and @AnthonyGaughan thought something like Wikinews, which is copyright free, or Creative Commons licensed texts, would be the best solution.

@MarjorieRosenbe shared one of her lesson ideas:
·        Use a text from the NY Times- a true story about a small boy who takes his mum’s car.
·        Students can look at key words and teach them to each other
·        Give students difficult vocabulary and they write their own story before they read the text. Meeting new vocabulary is then not a problem.
It also makes them interested in finding out what the real story is about.
·        Read the text
·        Add words or substitute words in the text
·        The stories can be read aloud and students can vote on the best, funniest, most creative etc. This is done only to share their work in groups- not as a reading aloud task.
@Marisa_C raised her concerns about reading aloud- which had been covered in a previous #ELTchat You can access the summary here
·        Students could act out the text, which gets them using the new vocabulary.
·        or produce a piece of writing: you are one of the characters in the text, describe it from your point of view.
·        or collaborate to create crossword for another group to complete.

Activities to start with, before reading, to activate schematic knowledge
@worldteacher: always use realia, or if not possible pictures to generate interest.
 There are more than 15000 pictures available for teachers, by teachers, on the #ELTpics site on  
@EnglishWithK   usually gives a list of the key words with explanations, but @Marisa_C suggested that teaching all of the new vocabulary could lead to the loss of strategy training.
@worldteacher: prediction is vital and helps students be more discerning at other times. Many others agreed with this view.
@Marisa_C likes to invite students to form their own questions while predicting, rather than a dependency on the coursebook or the teacher.
@Marisa_C shared an old post on the value of prediction
@AnthonyGaughan added his ideas
as did @Charlesrei1   
@pjgallantry suggested that cartoons might work. Students could supply the words and then compare with the text afterwards.
To see level of language complexity, the Oxford 3000 check tool will help with authentic texts

the native reader
And how to approach the text itself?
@worldteacher: Is skimming and scanning ALWAYS a good idea before reading for detail?
 It was agreed that both are not always necessary, and that it would depend on the text, and how native speakers would deal with it too. Also, if the gist is obvious, and there are no real points to scan for, it would be a waste of time. However, students need to learn the scanning technique, as they often want to read everything in detail, which is not always the most efficient way to handle a text.
@Marisa_C There is a suggestion about top-down reading ( from global to local processing) rather than close reading.
Reading for bias was also mentioned. @Charlesrei1 tries to integrate this with every text as he sees it as a critical skill. He defined it as interpreting the author statements and assumptions, together with reading between the lines and reading with different views in mind.
@Marisa_C : F Grellet’s book  suggests different levels of questioning; in particular clarify content v clarify rhetorical organisation.
@pjgallantry: a way to help students with text is to place it in a global context and relevance to their situation, as pre, mid, and post text work.

Using web tools
Using web tools
@nroberts88 suggested putting text through to show the students a map of the text. They can then guess the theme or title. (This is a new tool for me, and one I will be looking to test in the near future.) Thank you.
Wordle or Tagxedo were also recommended as word cloud tools the students could use to predict the topic. Tagxedo has the edge here, as interesting shapes can also be used to predict the topic. As @pjgallantry said: you could import a picture that relates to the story; e.g. the shape of a car could be used for a new item about a car. @worldteacher thought that it helped with critical thinking too, as students would have to offer reasons for their guesses.
From @ozge  via @Marisa_C : a tool to simplify any web text

Lots of ideas to look through, some good practice for pre-reading and tasks to do while reading- and some excellent sources of material: a great #ELTchat as always, thanks to everyone who took part in the chat.

Join us next Wednesday BST 12.00 or 21.00 for the next instalment………