Timed Reading ESL Activity


Timed reading activities are a great way to help students recall information from a text. You can do it with articles in text books, magazines, newspapers or anything else of interest that can be downloaded from the web.

Student Level: Intermediate, Advanced

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Age Group: Adults

Timed Reading ESL Reading Activity

Timed Reading Activity Preparation:

Prepare an article of interest that your class would be interested in. It should be long enough and separated in different sections or paragraphs so that students have clear stop and start points in the article.

Timed Reading Activity Guidelines:

Before reading, have the class discuss opinions related to the topic of the article. You can do some pre-discussion questions to get them more engaged in the subject beforehand.

Present the text that the class will read. Have students briefly scan the whole article and elicit what the subject matter and main idea. Ask them how many sections there are in the text and tell them the aims of the timed reading activity. The goal is to have them read sections of the text and practice recalling information without looking back at the text after they have read it.

Demonstrate the timed reading task to the class and read the first section aloud. Close your book and recall information from the section. Briefly summarize what you read and pick out a few specific details or important facts to tell the class.

Next, assign the next section of the article for the class to read and have the students read quietly by themselves. Set a time limit depending on the length of the section. Two minutes should be sufficient for most situations and levels.

After the time is up, have everyone close their books and practice recalling information from the section that they just read in pairs or groups. They should practice summarizing, picking out details and help each other remember without looking at the text.

Lead feedback and ask a few students what they can remember in front of the whole class. Help out or elicit any significant information that they may have missed.

Have the class do the same thing with the remaining sections of the article and continue the process until the article is completed.

To sum up everything that you have covered, you could have the students form discussion groups and do some critical thinking questions relating to the whole article. They could discuss the main ideas of the text, make inferences, suggestions and predictions about the topic.

Remember to lead feedback on the discussions and make any corrections that interfere with meaning or general ideas about the article’s content. You could also review vocabulary from the text as well if there is time.

Follow-Up ESL Activities:

Finally, once the students have completed the timed reading activity, you could have a post-discussion about the article’s topic, help with questions, vocabulary and review any difficulties that the class had with the article. You could also try the Pass the Marker Game to get students out of their seats to review the vocabulary from the text.

View more reading activities.

View more ESL activities.


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