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Saturday, June 12, 2010

Reading Comprehension Strategies

Reading comprehension involves complex processes and it is a fact
that teenagers do not like reading very much, specially if what they
should read is a long article. As teachers of foreign languages, we should
assist our students in the process of developing reading strategies such

Some time ago, I came across Joe Bower's blog and I read his insightful post about the way he makes his students practise reading comprehension. I decided to put his strategy into practice with a group of students who are learning the necessary strategies to sit for Cambridge First Certificate Exam. In this exam candidates are supposed to show understanding of specific information, text organization features, tone and text structure. In Part 3 of the Reading Paper, candidates are supposed to read a text or several short texts preceded by 15 multiple-matching questions. To do this, they need to understand detail, attitude and detail, attitude and opinion in the question and locate a section of text where that idea is expressed. Some of the options may be correct for more than one question and there may be one correct answer to some questions.
To develop reading strategies, students should read a wide range of texts in the classroom and at home. Certain times it is difficult to help students work their way through the text and interpret the meaning of more complex passages. It is useful to encourage students to be aware of alternative ways of dealing with texts so they can decide which ones suit them best.

After making comments on the picture that accompanied the text my students were supposed to read and reading its heading so as to speculate what the text was about, I explained to my students that they were going to read the text with pencil in hand. I told them that they were supposed to write what came to their mind while reading. It could be a question, an idea, a comment, a connection with something they knew, etc.
The strategy was successful to help them concentrate more and interact with the text. They managed to remember more information after finishing. Their notes included questions about the meaning of words, comments, views and memories.

In this way, my students found out that reading a one-page text is not such a tedious task
I would like to thank Joe Bower for sharing such a useful strategy.

Is there a reading strategy you have used which proved successful?


  1. Hey, this is great to see. Thank you for sharing this with others. I'm glad to hear that your students found this reading strategy purposeful.


  2. Sounds like a great strategy. When students make connections to their experiences and prior knowledge it is easier for them to build up new knowledge. In this way, it fits like a big cognitive puzzle in the brain!

  3. Thanks, Joe, for your comment and for sharing this insightful strategy. It's been inspiring for me.

  4. Thanks, Shell, for your comment! I totally agree with you.

  5. Hi Marisa,

    I really like this. I've done something similar for listening, to show students that their mind drifts and they make personal associations as they listen. I think I'll do your exercise and then have students compare notes - making sure that they understand that different associations are perfectly ok.

    To concentrate on scanning for facts I like to have students make quizzes for each other. They'll scan and then hone in many times that way.


  6. Hi Anne,

    Thanks for your comment! I'll try your suggestion for listening tasks. It's really insightful. My teenage students get distracted very easily and their minds wander away.
    Making quizzes is also an interesting task for students to do. Thanks for your suggestions!