Thursday, 14 December 2017

How to slow down reading and get the most out of it

Reading can serve many different purposes: spotting some information we are looking for, catching up on the latest news, pleasure, summarising a long text for someone, translating for someone and so on. I am a firm believer in reading extensively as it is the best way of reinforcing words and grammatical or syntactical patterns.

But where would we be if we didn’t focus from time to time? Our students need to be slowed down while reading and be challenged about how much they retain which they would be able to produce in the course of time.

There are, of course, various ways of slowing the students down, and here is one I would like to elaborate on this time.
I sometimes give my students extracts from fiction and if this means a few pages, it is not practically possible or even desirable to parse every single sentence in the extract. However, if or when this applies we could pick out some descriptive pieces and draw or find some images corresponding to them.
I am not artistic myself, which means I have to rely on what is available on the internet or toil on PowerPoint! But for the lucky ones who are gifted, this could be done on the board or on a flip chart as the reading takes place and would feel more authentic than providing a ready image on the computer screen.

 One could even begin to draw part of it and gradually add to it as the need arises, making the task even more demanding.
I suggest that the teacher assigns the reading of a couple of pages and asks the students at the end of their reading to underline the line(s) or phrase which is depicted in the image.

For the sake of illustration, I will provide some examples from sundry sources.

The first extract is from Wilkie Collins The Woman in White:

… two or three passengers who were late were clustering round the small opening through which the tickets were issued. …

The second extract is from Christopher Paolini’s The Eldest:

Inside the workshop was lit by a single candle which cast a trembling glow over the ring of faces that hovered about it in the surrounding darkness.

And the third one comes from Eduardo Mendoza’s An Englishman in Madrid:

… The signature was a florid scrawl

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