Making Reading More Fun For Teenagers

I have worked in ELT for about a decade and, therefore, I have delivered hundreds of reading lessons. It is undeniable that many textbooks authors have been doing their best to come up with interesting and relevant topics that work wonders to introduce grammar and vocabulary. However, I often feel that part of our job as teachers is to always put ourselves in the students’ positions. For this reason, I frequently ask myself: “If I were a student, would I enjoy reading this text?” And truth be told, sometimes the answer is “no”.

Bearing this in mind, I always try to find ways of making my reading lessons more fun by thinking of what could possibly be done in order to either make students more interested in the topic of the text or in the text itself. Here are a few things I usually try to do:

  1. Engage them in the warm-up/lead-in stage

If you are concerned their level of interest in the text will not be high, grasp students’ attention in the early stages of the lesson.

I would like to share a personal experience that might illustrate well what I mean. Once I was working with a textbook that included a text titled “The Art of Origami”. I myself had never been into such form of art, hence, I decided to dive into it. I looked for an origami tutorial video on YouTube and learned how to make one. And what did I do? I started the class by teaching my students to make an origami. They loved it! Their sense of accomplishment was so penetrating that they did not think twice before reading the text.

  1. Make the reading comprehension tasks less dull

Most textbooks present activities which have become commonplace (and I do not blame authors for that). The way I see it, it is up to us to make any necessary and possible changes because we are the ones in contact with our students, we know what they like or dislike.

Make the most of the questions that are already in the book (or create your own questions) and create a quiz game, for example.

  1. Provide them with a memorable follow-up activity

This might be the most difficult thing to do, but it is not impossible. It is a matter of thinking outside the box and exploring creativity.

I remember once I had to deliver a reading lesson that reported the story of a musician who I knew my students did not know that well. What I did to help them “connect” with the musician was to show a video of him covering a more modern hit song by an in-the-spotlight artist. Next, taking into consideration that communication is an important part of the follow-up stage, I had them share with each other artists or bands they liked the most and why. Bringing the topic to the students’ own reality – aligned with a communicative activity – is the best way to help them relate to such topic.

Reading is considered as a boring chore by many students. For this reason, we should try to give them unforgettable experiences every now and then. By making them have fun in class, we create a positive and relaxed atmosphere for everyone in class, including us teachers.

Feel free to contact me in case you want to share your thoughts and experiences. My e-mail is contato@henriquezamboni.com.br. Thanks for reading!

Henrique Zamboni has been in the ELT field for almost 10 years, having worked for different language schools as an English teacher and teacher trainer. He holds the CPE, the CELTA, a degree in Letras and a degree in Marketing. He is currently teaching teens and adults.

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