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A reading for specific information activity

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Instructions for teachers

Picture of a bat

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.

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Suggested Procedure:

1. Spend 5 minutes pre-teaching some of the difficult vocabulary. eg eyesight, suck blood, anti-clotting agents, hibernate, nectar, warm weather, high-pitched sounds, stroke, heart, smell, lap the blood up, sharp teeth, wingspan, pollinator, insatiable, echolocation, to flap 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:

  1. How long could a bat hibernate for? (up to 7 months)

  2. How many insects can a bat eat within an hour? (about a 1000)

  3. What treatments did research into bat saliva lead to? (medication for heart of stroke patients)

  4. How many bat species exist in the world? (1240)

  5. What would a bumblebee bat equal to on a balancing scale? (a dime or a penny)

  6. What do flying foxes eat? ( nectar, blossom, pollen and fruit)

  7. How big are the wings of the biggest bat on Earth in metres? (1.8 m)

  8. For how long can a bat stop breathing? (for about an hour)

  9. What is it called when animals communicate with bouncing sounds, that we can't hear? (echolocation)

  10. How many percent of their own body weight can bats eat during one night? (50%)

  11. To how many beats per minute can little brown bats slow their heart rate? (20 BPM)

  12. Can little brown bats die if someone wakes them up too many times during their hibernation? (yes)

  13. How many bats live in the Bracken Cave? (20 million)

  14. Vampire bats don't “drink blood” how do they comsume it? (lapping it up)

  15. How many percent of mammals do bats represent? (20%)

  16. What is the size of a bumblebee bat in centimetres? (3cm)

  17. How long can bats live for? (20 years)

  18. Why are Mexican long-tongued bats important for humans: What product do they help the production of ? (Tequila)

  19. What kind of teeth do vampire bats have? (tiny, extremely sharp)

  20. By Beata Czifrik :)

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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