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A reading for specific information activity

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Instructions for teachers

The moon

As any TEFL theory book will tell you. We need to help the students develop the many different reading skills and strategies such as gist reading, reading to confirm expectations, reading for communicative tasks etc. This is an example of scan reading or reading to extract specific information. In the real world you would do this to find a number in a telephone book or find out how deep the swimming pool is in a holiday brochure, what is on at the cinema etc. This text will hopefully give some practice in this type of reading. Go to student text

Suggested Procedure:

1. Spend 5 minutes pre-teaching some of the difficult vocabulary. eg muscles, knees, brain, teeth, pulse, lock their legs, blind spots, stride, pump, heart, twins etc.

2. Hand out a photocopy of the text to all the students. Let them read it for 3 or 4 minutes or if you really want to develop scan reading don't let them read it at all.

3. It is best to use the cheap trick of having a competition to add some motivation. Divide the class into two teams. You ask questions on the text and the team who answer your questions correctly first get a point. Ask the questions from various parts of the text don't start at the top and go down.

Here are some ready made questions:

In which season are foals usually born? (in the spring) (8)
What is a filly? (a young female horse) (6)
How much does a normal horse drink? (38 litres to 45 litres per day) (1)
How many watts is one metric horsepower? (736 watts) (5)
What time of day are foals normally born? (at night) (4)
How many bones do horses have? (205 bones) (3)
How old are horses when they lose their milk teeth? (3-5 years) (4)
How long do horses sleep each day? (two and a half to three hours) (3)
What can't horses do? (vomit) (1)
What is a mare? (a female horse) (6)
What is the pulse rate of a horse? (between 36 and 40 beats per minute) (3)
How long do modern horses live on average? (25 to 30 years) (1)
What is the unit of measurement for horses? (hands) (2)
How old was Old Billy when he died? (62) (1)
How many inches are there in one hand? (four) (2)
How many muscles does a horse have in each ear? (16) (2)
How old are foals when they stop drinking their mother's milk (four and six months) (8)

That should be enough.

More suggestions:

If this activity was a success there are other ways you can practice reading for specific information.
It is a good idea to find texts that the students might really have to read.

e.g.. Photocopy the accommodation flats for rent section from a newspaper and ask questions like how much is the bedsit in Acacia Avenue. Other sources could be :- Job adverts, brochures, TV and entertainment etc.


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