For the Entry 2 ESOL group I have chosen the text on religious festivals around the world as it is an international topic which I can personalise easily. The text is presented as three separate paragraphs on Ramadan, Easter and Diwali and looks like it comes from a text book. The text is authentic so it is a good opportunity to develop students’ reading skills. Some of the text might be challenging for the students but that’s fine as long as I appropriately grade the exercises Grellet
Harmer states that teachers need to ensure that students are engaged with the topic and “it is especially important that they should be allowed to show their feelings about the topic” Harmer, J. (2007: 101). The class is very diverse so this text will draw out lots of opportunities for students to share their own experience of festivals and traditions in their country as well as learn about traditions in other countries. Many of the students are religious so it is an important topic for them. They will have existing knowledge of the topic which they can activate to aid their understanding. It may also provide a good opportunity for discussing the need to respect and value each other’s beliefs. The text is nicely illustrated and laid out so there are lots of devices which can be utilised to aid the students’ understanding of the text and also develop their skills of skimming, scanning and deducing meaning.
Exercise 1: Lead in - How I will engage interest in the subject of the text
I will start by looking at the pictures and asking students what they see in the pictures, for example: What can you see in the pictures? What do you think is happening? What do they have in common? These questions will be used to engage the students in the topic and also activate their existing knowledge. I would hope that it would generate discussion about festivals and celebrations in different countries. Grellet F. (1981), is very clear that reading skills should “start with global understanding….[and] the overall meaning of the text” ( 1981 : 5). I will personalise the topic further by asking the students to firstly work on their own and answer the following two questions:
1. Where are you from?
2. Can you think of an important religious festival or celebration in your country?
Once they have thought of their answers I would ask them in pairs to share their answers. I would aim to mix pairs up so that there aren’t two students from the same country sitting together. I would then elicit feedback and write the examples on the board. By doing this activity students will be thinking about the global aspects of the text and be able to apply this to their understanding when they come to read it in more details. By approaching it this way, I will be enabling the students to build their confidence in tackling authentic text Grellet.F,(1981).
Exercise 2: gist reading
I will give the students the pictures, headings and text cut up. I will ask them to quickly read the text to match the pictures and headings to the text. I will give them a short amount of time to complete the task as I am not expecting them to read in detail at this point. By making this a quick activity I hope to re-train the students to apply their own language reading skills to reading text in a second language (ibid.). The students do not need to understand every single word or read the text in detail at this point, they need to skim it to “get a general idea of what it is about” (Harmer, 2007: 101) to be able to match it to the appropriate heading and picture. This is an important sub-skill which students need to develop; often when approaching a piece of text competent readers will skim over it first to get an overall understanding and to see if it’s relevant before reading it in further detail. This exercise will help them to interpret the text by going “outside it” (Grellet, 1981 : 5) as they will be looking