Here is a highly productive and engaging way of getting the most out of a reading passage. The idea is for the students to first read and understand the passage as whole individually and in silence. This can take place in the classroom or you may decide to assign a reading passage as out of class work.
Clarify meaning, highlight focal vocabulary and interesting bits of language and then ask your students to get into pairs. They are going to turn the reading passage into an interview.
The students get into pairs. One student will be an expert on a given field of expertise which is contained in the information from the reading passage. The other student will be an interviewer. They have to picture themselves at a TV or radio studio. They will be given about 10-15 minutes to prepare an interview. They will have to work together and come up with a speaking version of the text in the shape of an interview. They can take notes and, of course, the interviewee will know beforehand the questions he/she will be asked. Discourage them from writing too much as this will be time consuming and then it will lead them to resorting to read in excess resulting in a lack of spontaneity in the interview. They can annotate some key vocabulary for some questions and facts or figures.
You can facilitate some useful expressions for the interview: it’s my pleasure to have … here with us today/shed some light on/that’s all we have time for/etc.
Here is a example and how a possible interview for the language level may unfold.
Face2Face 2nd Edition, Upper-Intermediate Student’s Book, free sample from the publisher available here
- So who do I have the pleasure of talking to?
- Hi, good morning. My name is… (student makes up a name).
- Mr/Ms…, welcome to our programme. Today you are going to shed some light on…
- …the world’s most expensive and collectable fish.
- How interesting!
- So tell me about koi fish. I believe some people find it addictive.
- Far more than you might think, actually.They are as beautiful as butterflies and very calming to watch. Freddie Mercury, the lead singer of Queen was owner of 89 koi in his garden. Guess how much each of them cost up to?
- I don’t know… A thousand pounds each?
- A bit more.
- More? Three thousand?
- Ten thousand. Each.
- This is hard to believe. I could have never imagined that. It seems outrageous to me. Breeding them must be a very lucrative business.
- Of course it is. The bigger they are the more they cost.
- What is the cheapest one you can find then?
- Prices start at about 75 pounds. They would be about twice as big as goldfish.
- You must be very fond of koi yourself.
- Yes, I think of them as living jewels.
- And what’s the survival rate?
- With the new equipment available the survival rate is getting better and better. Looking after koi is no more time-consuming than taking care of any other pet really.
- I think I will stick with my goldfish! They are a great deal cheaper. Well, that’s all we have time for. Thank you for your time, Mr/Ms…
- My pleasure.
If your students are allowed to use their mobile phones, ask them to do some research on the side by accessing a Wikipedia article on koi fish, for instance, so they can include one more piece of information that adds up the information gathered from the text. I just googled “koi fish” and “facts about koi fish” and there are many resources for your students to explore. That way every interview will be different. You will only have time for three or four pairs of students to act out their interviews but you may encourage the rest to record them on their mobile phones and, at least, have a look at “how they sound” and perhaps share the recordings via Facebook group/whatsapp group/blog/wiki/online noticeboard/email/etc.
When you are half-way through your textbook, assign different passages that the students have seen with you in class to the pairs. That way you can have different interviews on different topics. This will also give your students a chance to revisit and review language they have explored in class (both the interviewer and the interviewee but also the whole class as an audience).
You may also decide to find different takes or articles on a given topic and hand out copies (or links if the students are connected to the Internet) and have different interviews on the same topic.