Number one for English language teachers

Skills: graded readers

Level: Starter/beginner, Elementary, Pre-intermediate, Intermediate, Upper intermediate, Advanced Type: Teaching notes

Reading a novel is essentially a private, personal activity – but it can still provide useful classroom work . Here are some ideas for working with graded readers in class.

Reading a novel is essentially a private, personal activity – but it can still provide useful classroom work if you have (a) some quiet reading time (b) follow-up activities that encourage students to think about what they’ve read or allow them to discuss their ideas and opinions with others. Here are some ideas for working with graded readers in class:

A talk show

  • Check that students know what a “talk show” is.

  • Organize a ‘TV talk show’ in class – but the guests will be characters from the book students have been reading.

  • Choose students to play these ‘guests’ and let them prepare together by discussing and reminding each other about events in the story and their characters.

  • Divide the other students into groups. Each group prepares questions to ask each character.

  • When everyone is ready the guests go to a group, who ask their questions - which the guests try to answer. Guests move round to a new group after a few minutes - and the chat continues.

Selling the book to your students

When starting work on a new book you may want to motivate or enthuse students a little. Rather than starting reading at page 1, you could “market” the book a little - for example:

  • Find an illustration (e.g. from a filmed version) on the internet and show this to the class. Get them predicting who the people are and what is happening.

  • Chat a little about why you like the book (without giving the plot away)

  • Select a few short excerpts from interesting or key moments in the story and put these together on a handout. Let students read these, discuss them and guess about the story.

Making it come alive
  • Make groups with one (or two) ‘film directors’ and one student for each of the key characters in a scene they’ve read. Each group’s task is to adapt the story to make a short five minute ‘film’.

  • Depending on how long you wish the activity to last, you can ask groups to write a full short script (or a draft or just notes), plan the movements and rehearse the acting.

  • If you have access to a video camera you could actually film it – but just performing it in front of others should also be fun.

The latest news
  • Ask groups to prepare a newspaper front page reporting the latest events from the story students have been reading.

  • Encourage students to add not only articles but also draw ‘photos’, relevant advertisements, headlines, weather reports etc.

The next chapter
  • Offer students two or three options for what will happen in the next part of the story. Make groups and distribute one plot outline to each group. They then discuss if they think their outline is really what will happen next or not.

  • When ready, groups should meet up, summarize the plot you gave them and state their opinion. Together, they should agree which outline is the right one … and then, of course, go away and read to find out …

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