Reading passages in the language classroom are primarily used to have students understand the texts as a whole, to have them look for specific pieces of information or to introduce new language in context.
I also like to take advantage of reading passages to let students discover facts and reasons and share them with peers by means of splitting the text into two halves and having each student quickly absorb the information and having to retell it without looking at it. This also contributes towards vocabulary consolidation and the grammar inherent to the key words being used. It also brings some time pressure and gets the students concentrated on the reading task.
Give the students a short reading passage. Split your group into As and Bs. I would give my students about 5 minutes to read either the first, second and third paragraphs (Student A) or the first, fourth and fifth paragraphs (Student B) from the reading passage below. Tell them that you want them to remember as much content as they can in those five minutes so that they can tell their peers about it. Tell them to try to predict (or overlook) any vocabulary they may not know or understand. You will help them out with that at a later stage.
Personal Best Pre-Intermediate B1, Richmond Publishing. Free sample available from publisher here
A possible variation would be to write or display on the board key words from the text, as the students are reading it to provide some help but mostly to direct attention to those key words and the grammar structures they may need as they try to reconstruct the text heads up looking at the board.
born in – didn’t earn – couldn’t afford – credit – one day – decided to – 14 – first job – bike – moved – learned – expensive – customers didn’t use to – realized – cheaply
27 – he’d saved – started – sold – borrowing – began – grew – first Zara – soon – Spain – today – other – countries – still lives – grew up
A third possible variation with a digital version of the text and interactive whiteboard software could be conducted by placing blotches of ink over strings of words in the text. Then have students look at the board and try to read what they see and provide what is missing.
And this is all for now. I will be sharing some more ideas on exploiting reading passages in alternative ways in about a week from now.