Reading skills for the future Back to list
Get your students to find, analyse and synthesise information and evaluate arguments
With the possibility of accessing information via so many different formats and devices, it’s hardly surprising that our students don’t seem to be motivated by the surface level reading we sometimes ask them to do to complete comprehension questions. Our job as a teacher is to provide them with tasks that motivate them to reach out for graded readers, digitised texts or clips.
Reading is fast becoming the most important skill for the future, but not simply decoding a text, rather being able to find, analyse and synthesise information and evaluate arguments. These higher level skills are needed now for changes in the job market and will be essential for the future.
Learners do need to understand text at a basic level and comprehension tasks still have their role to play but we also need to take our students further by relating this basic level reading task to wider real-life questions.
Before students can move on to higher level skills, they need to be able to decode the text, understand the words and ideas used in context. Students who have a wide vocabulary are far more likely to be able to move from this surface level comprehension to higher order skills. Students who have access to a rich environment of different types of resources, be they graded readers, texts via the Internet, carefully selected clips via YouTube, etc. will deepen their knowledge of the world and the vocabulary they will need to understand it. Our job as a teacher is to provide them with the tasks to make them want to reach out for graded readers, digitised texts or clips.
Get your students to do the general comprehension tasks: focus on vocabulary, ask them to identify points in a text that are relevant to understanding the whole. Discuss the graded reader, for example, as a class. Discuss the motives of the characters in the story. Discuss the plot. How does the story relate to the wider world? What actions, motives could you link to other areas of their life or other resources available on the Web? Are there any possibilities to develop the reader into a class project so that students are encouraged to analyse and synthesise the information they find? Can they be asked to present and discuss their ideas with others in the class or other classes in the school?
Don’t just stop at the comprehension task. Take the opportunity to ask your students to really think.
Check out the graded readers here.