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Read aloud activities for English classes

March 03, 2014 by Nora Nagy

World Read Aloud Day gives you a great opportunity to share stories with your classes. Dedicate a day to reading and learn about ways to use reading aloud techniques in your teaching.

Here are 5 suggestions for reading aloud activities.

1 Focus on authenticity.

Where possible, keep the purpose of reading aloud authentic by using texts such as speeches, announcements, answerphone messages, children’s stories that the students might need to read aloud.

2 Keep it simple.

Keep the texts simple – at a lower level than the students’ silent reading competence – in order to avoid processing problems. Keep the texts short, focusing on quality rather than quantity.

3 Give enough preparation time.

Give the students the chance to analyse the text and decide how it should be read before asking them to read it aloud. Build a systematic focus on phonological features into the reading aloud sessions, focusing in turn on word grouping, weak forms and linking.

4 Do activities.

For each feature start with a recognition activity and move gradually towards production. For example, for word grouping:

  1. Ask the students to read the text silently and check comprehension.
  2. The students listen to the teacher reading the first half of the text (or to a taped version of the text) and mark the points in the text where there's a pause. They then analyse why the pauses came at those points and whether other points would be possible.
  3. The teacher reads the text, a phrase at a time, and the students repeat, chorally and individually. They then “shadow read” the text. This means reading the text at the same time as the teacher or recording, keeping the same rhythm, intonation and speed.
  4. The students now look at the second part of the text and predict the pauses. They then listen to the teacher (or recording) and check if they were right.
  5. In the next lesson, the students work on a new text and, after stage 1, individually mark the pauses they would make. In groups of three they then read the text aloud and compare the results – did they pause at the same points? Were the alternatives equally valid? They try to arrive at a definitive version, while the teacher circulates, monitoring and helping. Once all the groups have an acceptable version and each member has had a chance to read it aloud, the text is then used to focus on another phonological feature, and stages 2-4 are repeated.

You can read more about the benefits of reading aloud in various contexts.

Here is a collection of classroom solutions that make use of reading aloud.

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