Effective Reading in Exam Classes by Jeanette Corbett
lesson plan 1
Main aim: To develop students understanding of a narrative
text, focusing on the literacy use of words, allowing students
to infer meaning (stage 5)
a) To develop student summary skills by writing one sentence
summary of a character (stage 4)
b) To allow students to demonstrate their understanding of
the text by completing an open cloze text (stage 6)
This lesson is the sixth in a series for Unit 13 of Proficiency
Masterclass, titled That's Entertainment. Previous lessons
have focused on identifying reading problems, developing text
genre, reader response and reading strategies (see timetable
attached). All of which have been linked to the theme of the
previous unit studied (Unit 9: Call of the Wild) and the current
unit. Within the current unit we have focused on entertainment
within different cultures, on TV and company perks of entertainment.
Therefore I have chosen this lesson to develop their understanding
of a narrative text by focusing on the reason for the words
used, using an authentic text.
Following lessons will build on this lesson, using their knowledge
acquired, as an introduction to further vocabulary in the
unit and other forms of entertainment, also as an aid to descriptive
First that students are able to diagnose their problems with
texts and suggest possible strategies/ solutions (stage 2).
That in stage 4, students will have sufficient knowledge to
be able to summarise what is revealed about the characters,
without becoming concerned about the meaning of individual
words or phrases.
Equally in stage 5 that they will have developed the ability
to assess the usage of words/phrases by looking at the surrounding
context and evidence (using the clues listed) - the idea inferred
rather than just a specific word.
By stage 6, they will be sufficiently confident to use the
text to complete the open cloze and have the ability to reformulate
words/ phrases without directly filling from the text.
Finally, that they will be sufficiently interested in the
characters to take on roles in a speaking activity (stage
problems and solutions
I have assumed that students will be interested enough in
the text to look at the writer's meaning through the words/phrases
used. This may be a problem in that the text is neither amusing
nor contains anything culturally specific to them - they may
lack interest and motivation. This is solvable by the organisation
of the lesson - the stages using the text are equally distributed:
pre-reading activity (stage 2), reading activities (stages
3-6), which are well balanced and to be completed together
and a post reading activity, which allows them to personalise
the characters, through speaking.
As the text is very descriptive, the author uses descriptive
language, style and punctuation to create meaning, students
may feel unable to assess the usage of the words/ phrases
(stage 5). They may feel lost in the text. This is solvable
as they will complete this activity in pairs and therefore
encourage each other. Also I have included clues in line number
which is another representation of the words/ phrase and while
monitoring I will offer assistance if required. I will stress
the importance that the exact meaning is not required but
a good general idea, which they should be able to obtain by
using clues in the text.
Also should students find stage 5 problematic it will have
a negative effect on the open cloze (stage 6). If they feel
unconfident about the text they won't be able to transfer
their understanding effectively from one text to another.
I believe this is solvable by the students themselves; they
will have developed sufficient understanding of the text.
Should they feel unconfident we will complete the first gap
together. Also when monitoring I will provide assistance and
explanations if required.
The class itself may be a problem, as outlined in my class
profile I have borrowed students from another class - though
their level is advanced, it is slightly lower than that of
my students. We have had one class together and there were
no problems with dynamics however they may feel lost in the
text and be unable to complete the work. To overcome this
possible problem I will sit these students in pairs with those
from my own class - each can support the other. Also the stages
of the lesson are well balanced and provide the opportunity
for students to interact and build their confidence in the
I am aware that the text to be used has only a tangible link
to the theme of the current unit, that it is slightly longer
than a text in the Proficiency Reading exam and contains more
characters than normal. I feel justified in my choice because
the language used lends itself to the activities which do
indeed develop student understanding of the text and awareness
as to possible clues to look for in the future texts.
437-8, A Man in Full, Tom Wolfe
are a general adult English class based at the school, studying
on an extensive course. The course is designed as a two-year
preparation course for the Proficiency exam; therefore the
level of the group is defined as pre-proficiency.
The group grew rapidly, it began in October with 5 students
and by November it had eleven students. However now it is
the final term students had to leave the group due to work
Students are attending the course for a variety of reasons.
The majority have the CAE exam, those that have not already
use English as part of their work or studies. Others are attending
to supplement their academic learning. It is a young group,
aged from 16 to mid 20's. An individual assessment of the
students is as follows:
- the youngest member of the class. He was brought up in Argentina,
where he attended an International school. He has also attended
an English boarding school for a few years. He is a strong
talkative student, who will occasionally dominate the class,
if allowed. He passed CAE in June. He is still at school and
often finds it difficult to manage the work from the academic
and his school. His strength is his speaking and his natural
ability to manipulate his knowledge of the language. His weakness
is his lack of awareness of register and style in writing,
which I believe is probably symptomatic of his learning history
rather than lack of exposure. He is interested in taking the
Proficiency exam in December and will be preparing with extra
work during the summer. He reads in English when he has the
Javier- one of the younger members of the class. He also passed
CAE in June and is in his first year at university. He has
visited both the United States and England on study tours
and appears to have developed a sense of both cultures. He
finds it difficult to concentrate in class, with his mind
full of studies. He is often unconfident about assessing activities
citing lack of time to study as his excuse and his own inaccuracies.
He cites his weaknesses as writing and grammar, though I feel
his inaccuracy when speaking often hinders him more. He regularly
borrows videos from the self-access centre to develop his
listening skills and understanding. I don't believe he reads
in English regularly outside class.
Maite - a very quiet student, who is working as a pharmacist.
She has studied in Scotland as part of her degree. When she
comes to class, she is very tired and often misses class due
to her work. She admits she needs to study more at home. She
has borrowed self-study books from self-access to develop
her understanding. She reads regularly in English as part
of her work and scientific journals though her comprehension
is not as strong as others in the group. She works hard and
should be pleased with her development.
Pilar - a talkative student, who has been learning at the
school for some years. She willingly gives feedback in class
about activities. She has no time to study outside class but
admits the need to improve her listening. She reads regularly
in English - novels and magazines when possible. Having recently
finished her degree, she has just started a Masters in business,
which includes a module in Business English. She has a good
overall ability in English and has developed the ability to
work with the knowledge that she has rather than panic.
my class has only 4 students registered I have borrowed students
from another class for this observation. The group are of
CAE level but currently are not interested in doing the exam.
As a group this year they wan to devote time to their skills
work and improving their all round ability. I have chosen
to include this group with my class for this reason - the
lesson is focused on developing understanding of texts. I
am aware that their teacher uses a lot of authentic material
with them and this lesson will be useful for them and perhaps
serve to encourage them to read more outside class. I was
unable to combine with another Proficiency group due to timetable
We had a lesson together on Monday 23rd, the class were enthusiastic
and showed their pleasure in learning English. A summary of
the students follows:
- He has good writing skills and is creative. His overall
comprehension is good also his reading. He uses different
strategies effectively - guessing from context and associating
- She is a good all rounder but is a little quieter than the
others. Her speaking is accurate. She is an English primary
- She is a strong student who has a good level of comprehension.
In speaking she needs to focus on her pronunciation. I believe
she doesn't read in English much outside class.
- He is a good all rounder, who tries hard in his writing
though sometimes he is too ambitious. I understand he writes
in English outside class.
- I believe is quite new to the class. He has wide vocabulary
knowledge and has studied abroad. He works in the university
and his analytical mind transfers to his English - he is good
at extracting the main ideas from a text.
- She uses English a lot in her work but doesn't read for
pleasure. Her global comprehension is good but is often impatient
and reluctant to work out the meaning of words.
the lesson rationale
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