10 Pre-Reading Activities

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There was a great article published recently on 10 pre-listening activities by Hall Houston. This inspired me to contribute this article that has 10 fun and engaging pre-reading activities.


What is pre-reading?

What the learner brings to the reading will affect how she or he understands what they read. Many people argue that it can be very important in helping the learner understanding what they read. In other words, pre-reading activities can help learners prepare for the reading activity.


What are the benefits of pre-reading?

There are several benefits to doing pre-reading activities. Pre-reading activities can help the learner to be more prepared for what they are about to read. It can help them anticipate the topic of the reading. In doing this, they can also prepare themselves for the kind of language, vocabulary, and even grammar that might be used in the text. In addition, if done in the right way, it can encourage the learners to want to read and maybe even increase their motivation to read.


Here are 10 pre-reading activities to use in class.


  1. Speed chatting
    Prepare one or two simple questions related to the topic of the reading. Ask the class to make two rows facing each other. Then, encourage your learners to ask each other the questions, but warn them that they only have 60 seconds to do so. Once the 60 seconds are up, one of the rows rotates so each learner has a new partner. Repeat the process several times.
  2. Discussion
    Encourage the learners to have a discussion about the topic of the reading. Prepare four or five sentences with various opinions relating to the reading. Read them out to the class and then place them around the room. Encourage the learners to go and stand near the opinion that they agree with the most. Then encourage that group to prepare reasons for agreeing with that particular sentence. Once they have done this, the learners can then interact with people from other groups to share their opinions and reasons.
  3. Brainstorming
    Give the class five minutes to brainstorm ideas relating to the topic of the reading. Then give them a further five minutes to organize their ideas and to form sentences. Once they have completed this, encourage them to get up and move around the room and share their ideas with other learners.
  4. Pictures
    Select three or four pictures that relate to the topic of the reading. Ask the students to make small groups and give each group a copy of the pictures. The learners should work together to connect the pictures and to try to guess what the reading will be about. Each group takes it in turns presenting their ideas.
  5. The title
    Ask the students to make small groups and tell the groups the title of the reading. The learners should work together to pool their knowledge of this topic. Again, once the group has finished, each group can share their ideas with the other groups.
  6. Story telling
    Prepare a short personalized narrative about something related to the topic of the reading. Be creative with the story. It doesn’t have to be 100% accurate to something that actually happened to you, but it should be personal, and be told enthusiastically. It will help if there is a little suspense and humour in the story too.
  7. Short conversations
    This time give the students a sentence from the reading. The students then have a conversation with a partner about the sentence. However, tell them there is one rule. They cannot use more than three words each time it is their turn to speak.
  8. Pictionary
    Select some of the key words from the text. Put the class into two or three groups. In turn, a learner from each group (at the same time) comes to the whiteboard. They are told the word and they have to draw that word. They are not allowed to use letters or numbers in their drawing. The other students try to guess the word and earn points for their team. This can get very lively indeed!
  9. Purpose
    Give the students a purpose for completing the reading. This can be in the form of some discussion questions about the content prepared by the teacher. Give the questions to the students before they read the text. Ask them to read them and then while they are reading the text, they should prepare answers to these discussion questions. When they have read the text, they then discuss the questions with a partner.
  10. Videos
    There is so much good free content available these days. First, find a short video relating to the topic of the reading. I would suggest something around three minutes long. After watching the video yourself, prepare some simple discussion questions. Play the video and then ask the students to talk with a partner about what they saw.


What are your thoughts? Do you use any other pre-reading activities? Also, if you are looking for free graded reading materials for your students, please check out my website – http://dreamreader.net/.

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