Tuesday, June 12, 2007

How to get students interested in reading

Weak students often drown under the weight of college reading assignments due to lack of vocabulary, poor grammar and poor reading skills. Lack of interest in the subject matter too plays a part. The teacher is unable to give such students easier reading tasks because they have a syllabus to complete.

To overcome such problems, I often get my students to read the night before and to find out the meanings of difficult words. During class, I would have a quiz on synonyms or antonyms related to the assignment at hand. Very often, I would go over the meaning of words with them, illustrating their meaning by making sentences or by giving examples. Sometimes, I use cloze passages to test their new vocabulary.

I remember one particular reading assignment that was related to baby snatchers. It coincided with front page news about a senior government official who had just married a woman, more than twenty years his junior. We turned that topic into a debate and it was one of those rare moments for a teacher to see disinterested students suddenly becoming enthusiastic about their reading. Their ability to relate the reading text to what was happening around them was the reason for the change of mindset.

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