Reading is an essential skill if your students
are to make real
progress. This is especially the case if the students are
studying in their home country. Here are a couple of ideas
help your students become more effective readers, the first
campaigning for real reading!
1. Try as much as possible to match text & sub-skills. Think of
the sub-skills that a native speaker would use to read that
particular text & then reflect that in the classroom by
your students to do the same thing. The students will know
most efficient way to tackle a text when presented with the
type next time or outside the classroom.
2. Explain these sub-skills to the students.
Use the terms skim,
scan, gist & intensive reading.
3. After you have incorporated the above
you can then present the
students with a text & ask them how they will go about
4. Speed their reading up with strict time
limits & competitions
- at the same time as explaining the sub-skill they are to
out. This will get them away from reading every word.
5. Choose interesting & relevant texts!
Obvious really but
sometimes overlooked in our race through the coursebook. Ask
students for a 'response' to the text - e.g. what did they
- personalise it.
to the contents
friends are words that look the same but have different meanings
in different languages. The classic example in Spanish
is with the word 'constipated'. Pablo says: 'I'm very constipated
today'. If you didn't really know Spanish you would be pretty
speechless, thinking he was being particularly frank with
you on the state of his bowels! The fact that he would be
sniffing & coughing & looking under the weather might
be a clue to the real meaning of 'constipado'. In Spanish
he would say 'Estoy muy constipado' meaning 'I've got a bad
So false friends can interfere with communication & need a certain amount of attention. They don't need
much time so we usually deal with them as they crop up &
in warmers & coolers. Here's a warmer type activity for
the Spanish student:
Below are some sentences with mistakes in them. Identify
the problem & correct it.
1. He's always spitting - he doesn't
have a good education.
2.They buy all their books from the library on the High
3.He was feeling very insane so he joined a gym.
4. English is an easy idiom to learn.
5. She doesn't go to a language school as she has a
6. She's embarrassed & the doctor says she's going
to have twins.
This kind of error analysis activity guides
students & asks them to identify & work out the problem
themselves. Ask them if it sounds right - help them develop
their intuitive ability.
There is a list
of English/Spanish false friends, along with more
sentences like this, on the site
If you have a list of false friends for other
languages please send it to me & I'll put it up on the
site for all to refer to. Thanks.
to the contents
Get it taped!
We are always looking for ways
to cater to our students needs &
then to show the students that we are actually catering for
That they know why they are doing what we ask them to do is
positive thing. The alternative is to follow along without
awareness of the process.
Have you tried taping your students in a
freer speaking activity?
The data that you collect can be very useful. You probably
lots of notes as they speak & give feedback on good & not so good things they said. Along the way you miss a lot.
The tape catches most of it. At first the students will be
being taped but the more you do it the less they will notice.
The tape can be used to show a before & after progress record
e.g. this is you at the beginning of the course & this
is you now
- assuming that there is actually a discernible difference!
In the shorter term, you can use a section
of the tapescript to
work on in class. You are showing the students what they said&asking them to analyse it &, if they can, improve
on it. Your
job is to show them that they are capable of making it better
if this is difficult, teaching them the bits that they need.
might want to look at specific language or concentrate on
strategies for developing the sub-skills of speaking & listening.
The tapescript of them speaking is evidence
for the students in
front of them & your reaction to their needs is plain
for all to
see. Everybody wins.
The tapes are obviously useful to provide
a record for you to
refer to. You might well be surprised at what you discover.
Take notes from the tapes you collect on a group & feed
your observations on their needs back into the lessons.
the Past Teaching Tips