Adapting Reading Materials – #eltchinwag Summary 12/05/2014

A #eltchinwag summary by Christine Mullaney of Kaplan International English, Dublin.

Christine Mullaney

Christine Mullaney is an IELTS and Business English teacher currently working in Kaplan International English in Dublin. She is currently a communications officer on the committee for the newly established ELT Ireland, building a PLN and learning about blogging, Twitter and anything else that can help her enhance.

She is @ChristineMulla on Twitter

Who doesn’t love a jolly good read? Well, in all honesty, our poor English language students sometimes. Daunting reams of what sometimes look like letters which have simply been jumbled together for fun and which have no apparent meaning, let alone context, face them on a seemingly never-ending language trudging basis.

Something akin to that previous sentence, don’t you think?

It is therefore more than necessary for their wonderful instructors to hype things up; ignite a flame, so to speak, under the piles of words and make them come to life. Engage and invigorate; the ELTers’ aim.

It was with this thought in mind that our first May #eltchinwag kicked off. @ELTIreland got the ball rolling by asking what types of texts tweeters enjoyed using. A unanimous ‘short texts,’ was the response. Allowing students to choose their own exercises or sources was suggested by @LahiffP in order to ‘get Ss engaged and give reason to communicate without too much effort.’ @JaneSeely seconded this using ‘anything which incites conversation.’

What followed was a stimulating variety of text types and exercises used by our chinwaggers:

  • ‘Creative writing across various topics – I’ve used them for extreme adjectives.’ @MaeBVee
  • ‘Adapted small texts into “txt” speak for younger students; they loved the decoding element.’ @GarethSears
  • ‘Follow this up with an auto tune my voice app for performance with groups.’ @GarethSears (looking forward to hearing more about that one in our speaking chat this summer)
  • ‘Business English tend to be email and technical specs – lighter stuff for listening.’ @eilymurphy
  • ‘Song lyrics as texts without listening to the song at all. Ss really enjoyed it.’ @JaneSeely
  • ‘Short stories (flash fiction).’ @Johnbyrne_ELT
  • ‘Ss get a kick out of correcting celebs’ tweets.’ @LahiffP
  • ‘Amateur psychology. Ss give each other Rorschach tests to interpret and detailed notes from a book/site.’ @JaneSeely
  • ‘Metro is great, and online newspapers. Modification sometimes necessary!’ @ainzyoshea
  • ‘Quirkies: Animal and strange crime are the best!’ @LahiffP (link below)
  • ‘Trip Advisor for scanning.’ @McLaughlinLou
  • ‘Catalogue e.g. Argos.’ @ChristineMulla

This one got a few of us nattering about giving students budgets, say of €100; they then have to come up with a shopping list for a friend, or furnish an apartment etc. @LahiffP suggested some sort of a vote on seeing who gets the best buy; in a sense like that show Bargain Hunting on TV, I’m now thinking. @HadaLitim threw in that she uses online catalogues often for ‘clothing, size, colour etc.’ So simple, yet engaging and effective; the name of the game.

Now, to adapting texts in the course book…

In a way that I’m quickly learning he has, @GarethSears opened this one up with a doozey:

 Is it adapting texts, or the manner of presentation/lead in that makes them interesting?

Ah, yes indeed; nail on proverbial head, the lead in must not be neglected. ‘I often find a related You Tube short video and show some of it to warm them. Helps loads. Watch video. Predict, read, bingo!’ @HadaLitim.

Following this, a deluge of adaptation alternatives, awarded no particular order of importance was unleashed upon #eltchinwag:

  • ‘Cut out questions on strips, students in groups come up and get 1 question; run back to find answer. 1st group finished wins.’ @HadaLitim
  • ‘Use more up to date CES texts for example. People love gadgets. (Consumer Electronics Show).’ @GarethSears
  • ‘Drawing charts/timelines from the text. Can do as jigsaw too.’ @JaneSeely
  • ‘Make jigsaw readings from course book texts, especially long ones.’ @LouiseGuyett
  • ‘Break long texts into manageable chunks. Create paragraph based questions to be answered  in staged blocks.’ @ChristineMulla
  • ‘Huge fan of running dictation / repeat after me for making semi-boring reading more engaging.’ @MaeBVee
  • ‘…charts from the back of the Economist and do presentations on them.’ @LahiffP
  • ‘Classic long text: GA reads Part1, GB reads P2 and then info exchange.’ @eilymurphy
  • ‘Give Ss text and ask them to prepare activities for other groups using the same text.’ @McLaughlinLou
  • ‘Prediction as they go, paragraph by paragraph.’ @JaneSeely
  • ‘Turning shorter texts into dictogloss for lower levels also works. Follow up conversation on characters, plot etc.’ @MihaelaOlariu
  • ‘Ss are the editorial meeting of a newspaper and have to suggest how to make text more interesting.’ @LahiffP
  • ‘…quick modify to revise tenses. Change e.g. present text to past etc.’ @GarethSears
  • ‘…cutting up paragraphs, sticking up around class, Ss walk around to look for answers, moving jigsaw reading.’ @LouiseGuyett
  • ‘Use interview transcripts, break into pieces, match question-answer, indirect speech, rephrase to follow-up.’ @MihaelaOlariu
  • ‘concordance lines to isolate features. Works well with collocations. @GarethSears

Here, students work in groups. They are researchers on a collocation to present to others. The aim is to look for how common the chunk is in speech, education, news etc. Students are also prompted to look at where it’s used in a sentence, punctuation, common contexts etc. The link for a concordance site is listed below.

Our aim during this #eltchinwag was to hash out ways to make reading more engaging for our students. Hopefully, teachers old and new will have found something here which will inspire a new approach or task. Please tell us about it in the comments section below if it has. We’d be happy to read. For now, dear readers, I shall leave you with this, applicable to more than just children, no doubt you’ll agree:

 “Reading should not be presented to children as a chore or duty. It should be offered to them as a precious gift.” – Kate DiCamillo


Links: Quirkies:


Adapting Reading:

IELTS Reading Activities:




One response to “Adapting Reading Materials – #eltchinwag Summary 12/05/2014

  1. Reblogged this on Anna's ELT reflection space and commented:
    Excellent smart from the last #eltchinwag chat by Christine Mullaney. Loads of great tips, well worth reading.

    I have to admit that I find these twitter chats overwhelming but enjoy reading summaries.

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