Thursday, June 12, 2008

What to Do When Your EFL Learners Don’t Like to Read

They Don’t Like to Read?
“But teacher, I don’t like to read!” Many of my EFL learners here in Colombia chant this so many times it’s almost a mantra. Despite efforts to the contrary, elaborate bookstore displays and campaigns, “fun” reading programs, free books and materials from ELT book publishers, and all manner of promotions for reading, the fact remains. Many EFL learners just don’t like to read.

Fight Back
Almost anything you can learn, you can learn from books. That includes physical skills as well. Of course, there are many skills and areas of knowledge that you should preferably learn “by doing”, training and experience, not just from reading books. Nonetheless, a huge proportion of learning and education comes from reading books.

“Ah”, you say. “What about the internet?” I say, bring it on. Even with videos, charts, graphs, images and other pictorial and visual forms, you still need to read eventually. If you’re not reading books, then you read articles which are segments of books. Or you read short snippets and posts, which are segments of articles. Don’t get “cheeky” with me, even on the internet, no matter how “digitally enhanced” you are, you must learn and practice focused reading skills.

What You Can Do
Here are a few suggestions for reading promotion and improvement for your EFL classes and learners.

• Start learners with reading at an early age
• Set an example – Read Yourself
• Provide or allow different types of reading materials
• Allow learners some autonomy in selecting personal reading
• Teach or help learners to acquire essential vocabulary and grammar elements
• Schedule a “reading time” during class sessions
• Make reading a low-pressure, low-stress activity

In addition, you can “tie in” reading with other activity types. Use a pre-viewing reading activity before a video. Have a short reading segment before or after a TPR activity or game. Use short reading texts to reinforce grammar elements taught in your English classes. Teach and practice key lexis in context using relevant, interesting reading passages. Keep reading activities short at first. You can lengthen readings and reading time as the school term progresses.

Many EFL Learners Don’t Like Reading
Many EFL learners just don’t like to read. You can help to “soften” the impact of reading for them by incorporating short, focused readings as an integral, dynamic part of other activity types in the classroom. Slowly, but surely, you can aid in adjusting their attitude towards reading with time, patience and some solid EFL didactics practices in the English language learning class room.

Prof. Larry M. Lynch is an EFL Teacher Trainer, Intellectual Development Specialist, prolific writer, expert author and public speaker. He has written ESP, foreign language learning, English language teaching texts and hundreds of articles used in more than 100 countries. Get your FREE E-book, "If you Want to Teach English Abroad, Here's What You Need to Know" by requesting the title at: Need a blogger or copywriter to promote your school, institution, service or business or an experienced writer and vibrant SEO content for your website, blog or newsletter? Then E-mail me for further information.

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