Creative Ways To Practice Reading Comprehension In A Languages Classroom


No matter what level of World Language class you teach, reading comprehension can be a challenging task for at least some students any one of your classes.

A block of solid text in any language can give some students anxiety. And for students who have had less than stellar preparation to get to the level of language that you are teaching, reading may be even more anxiety producing.

In order for students to get better at reading comprehension, they need to practice and they need to get rid of any associated anxiety. This means that as a teacher, you need to create a safe environment for students to take risks without negative consequences. This article will address a few creative strategies to set up a no-risk reading environment for a World Languages classroom.

Choose Your Own Adventure

Reading can be so much more interesting if students have some voice and choice in what happens in the story. This is why a “Choose Your Own Adventure” story can be so exciting. I like to use Google Forms to set up this activity. To set up the Form, you’ll need to branch it. This mean that what choice a student answers for one multiple choice question will determine what next set of text or question they will get. To see how to do this, Sylvia Duckworth has shared this document.

When text is put into a Choose Your Own Adventure activity, students will be reading in a low-risk environment, because nothing will be right or wrong. They will be reading the text to see what kind of ending they will get.

To get students to debrief this activity, you can put them into groups where all students who arrived at the same conclusion are in the same group. Then they illustrate on a large paper what happened in their story. If you link the Google Form to a Google Sheet, you will be able to see in the output which student made which choice. This way you can make sure students are appropriately grouped. Then to get students practicing speaking to each other, have them do the gallery walk activity that I described in this post in kinesthetic activities in a world languages classroom.

No-Stress Paired Readings

With this activity, two students will be given the same text to read aloud. But on student A’s paper, some words will be taken out. On student B’s paper, those same words are bolded, and there is a column to circle Yes or No off to the side. (You can see an example of what this looks like here.)

As student A reads the text and fills in the blanks, student B listens and circle “Yes” or “No” if student A gets the answers right or wrong. Then in the next part of the text, student B will have some words taken out, and student A will have the answers to mark “Yes” or “No”.

After the pair of students completes reading the text one time, they switch papers. This time each student will read aloud sections that they had previously corrected, and this will give them the opportunity to fill in each blank in the activity. Another added benefit of completing the activity after switching papers is that each student will see what they got right and wrong as they mark “Yes” or “No” as their partner completes the activity.

After students complete this activity, they should have a good understanding of what the reading says. At this point, if you have associated comprehension questions, you can debrief the activity by having students complete the questions. In my experience, this type of paired reading makes a text much easier for students to understand. Since they are not penalized for their answers when reading with a partner, they can comfortably take risks in building their reading comprehension. This way answering questions at the end of the article will be much easier.

Organizing A Reading With Google Drawings

Similar to the first creative idea presented in this article, using Google drawings to organize a reading is another activity that allows students some choice in how their activity goes. To prepare this activity, start with a blank Google Drawing canvas, and write the title of the article and directions for this activity at the top. Then take sections of whatever article students need to read, and write those sections in text boxes that are in no particular order on the sides of the blank canvas.

The students will have to put the parts of the article in the correct order, or at least in the order that makes sense. To see an example of what this set up looks like, see this similar set up for a matching activity. Once you set up this activity, you can share a link for your students to access the Google drawing document. But you will want them to make a copy so they can work on their own assignment, or so that they can work in small groups. To do this, you’ll have to force the Google link to make a copy of the document. To know how to do this, check out this article from Shake Up Learning.

To conclude this activity, you can have students draw out what they read about on a piece of paper, then take a photo of their drawing, finally have all students post their photos on the same Padlet. As a follow up, each student will be required to write one comment in the target language on a drawing on the Padlet.

Keeping Reading Comprehension Creative

Reading comprehension activities can be anxiety producing for some students, but they don’t have to be. This article addressed three ways that will breath creativity into your reading comprehension lessons. By using Google Forms for a Choose Your Own Adventure, analog paper for a guided paired reading, or Google Drawings and Padlet, for organizing and drawing out a reading, you can get students reading with lower levels of anxiety and comfortably taking risks to learn the target language.

language, ed techBryn Hafemeister2, c