Pic sourced online
Pic sourced online

by Sheetal Makhan / AYC

As a self-confessed bookworm myself, I almost felt my heart burst recently when a student told me, “Teacher, I don’t see the benefit of reading.”

Gasp! Shock! Horror!

I immediately knew that damage control was in order. Also, judging from recent tests that our students have written, lack of reading was quite evident. I started doing some research around this topic and came to the conclusion that students may actually NOT know how to read. In other words, they don’t have sufficient skills to read through an entire text or book comfortably and confidently.

I decided to start a free class (that would replace our “Listen Up”) which would focus solely on reading. What would I call it? O

Thanks to my regular and loyal students, they came up with the name “Read EZ” – playing on the name of my conversation class which falls on a Monday, “Speak EZ” 🙂

Our first class was held last Tuesday.

I have a list of reading techniques and skills to help students with reading, but would I dive straight into it? I thought of taking a different route, and this is a general outline of the class – which exceeded my expectations!

  • Do you read in your own language?

Vivian from Colombia said she does – it’s like an escape for her.

  • Do your parents read?

Raid from Saudi Arabia said his father used to have him read every night before going to bed.

Marta from Angola said that her brother is her hero, because he encourages her to read.

  • What are you reading at the moment?

Wow…I was so impressed with this one because suddenly, some students started taking not one, but two books out of their bags!

Sancha from Angola had The Ironing Man, which I used as an example.

I wrote the title on the board and showed the cover to the students.

(I also introduced vocab like author, summary/synopsis, genre) Based on just the title and picture, what questions did they have about the book? I then read (aloud) the synopsis at the back of the book. What were the keywords? Who are the main characters? What do we know about them?

Tom & Marina (husband and wife) who live in a small village. Tom works in London while Marina is a bored & lonely housewife. What further questions do the students have based on this information?

So, drawing from some of the questions the ss formulated themselves (before even opening the book) The purpose of this is to pique their curiosity and to give them a purpose when they begin reading. What exactly are they looking for? Are they looking for personality descriptions of the characters? For reasons for their circumstances etc?

To end the class, I then asked if they agreed with the student who said they see no benefits in reading. To my absolute delight, they were horrified by what he said.
So we compiled this list:

The Benefits of Reading:

Self-development
Helps to learn English
New vocabulary
Improves writing
Improves speaking
New information
Improves memory
Understand grammatical structures
See the world through another person’s eyes
Open your mind
Develop emotional understanding
Escape from your daily problems/challenges

Join Sheetal in Room 5.2 every Tuesday for Read EZ!

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EC Cape Town offers various English Language Courses, including ESOL Courses in South Africa.

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