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ESL Reading Activities - Interactive Games


Every ESL textbook will have reading comprehension lessons. Take any reading lesson and here are 4 reading activities and how to make reading more interactive, fun, and interesting for your international students. Even a reading lesson can become an interactive game.

Let's get them moving and out of their seats. As ESL teachers you can put them in your bag of tricks the next time you want to 'spice up' your reading lessons.

1. Read, Run, Write

Students get into groups of three.  Students choose one role:  reader, runner, or writer.

Writer is given a list of reading comprehension questions at the desk.  Reader is outside of the classroom (or at a wall farthest away from writer in the classroom).  

Writer asks the runner the first question.  Runner runs to reader and repeat the question.  Reader reads passage and gives runner the answer.  Runner runs back to writer and repeats the answer.  Writer writes down the answer. 

Students continue to do this until all questions are answered.  They stop and check their answers.  Reader can take passage back to group and they all work together to see if they have the right answers. 

As a class, go over answers or any questions about the reading. 

2. Read and Retell

Separate students in half.  One half of the class is given the reading.  Their job is to read and understand so they will be able to retell using their own words.  These students can work together to help each other understand the vocabulary and the reading. 

Other half of the students are given questions and they can work together to predict what the reading will be about and what they think the answers will be.

Pair students who read with the students who have the questions. (Take the reading away from the readers).  Readers retell using their own words first and then the listener can write down the answer to their questions.  They can collaborate and work together to see how many answers they can get. 

This reading activity is for high-intermediate to advanced students.   Students need to be able to retell and summarize information.

Reading Race

This takes some classroom set up and movement of seats but it's fun and students like to compete with each other in this reading race.  It works for all levels. 

Groups students in groups of usually 5-6 depending on the size of your ESL classroom.  Students in the same group sit in a row facing front.  (You will have 4 rows if you have 4 groups) Student in the back of the row has the reading.  Student in the front has the question.  Other students in the middle are the telephone line.  Student in the front tells the question to the student behind him, and they pass it back until it gets to the last person who has the reading.  That student will read the reading to find the answer and then tell the answer back forward to the first person so that person can write it down. 

This is like a game of telephone where students are whispering questions and answers back and forth.  It's interactive and fun for the students. 

Reading Scavenger Hunt

This reading activity is more of a mingler that gets everyone walking around the classroom.  Pair students so they can work together.

Post paragraphs of a reading around the classroom. 

Give the pairs the list of comprehension questions.  Assign each pair to start with a different answer so they are not all crowded around the same paragraph.  Students have to walk around the room to read the passages and find the answers to the questions.

After have students share as a class and you can answer any questions they have.  Works for any level.

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whaturmissing (author) from Canada on May 19, 2015:

Yay! So happy to hear your students had fun with reading!

Liana on April 21, 2015:

I tried the Reading Race today with a class of 10/11-year-olds. It worked great. It was the first time we did such an all-inclusive activity. They were quite familiar with the reading text so, the whole thing was just... wow! I was impressed by their participation and I loved the fact that everyone played a role in getting the activity right. Thank you!!!

Rich from Gold Coast on May 13, 2013:

Great ideas for getting kids more enthusiastic about learning English. They must come up with some really funny answers during the Read, Run, Write game. Thanks for sharing

whaturmissing (author) from Canada on May 02, 2012:

Writing is a fun way to share my years of experience teaching ESL to those new teachers.

SellyCells on April 21, 2012:

How long have you been writing educational activities articles?

gramarye from Adelaide - Australia on June 09, 2011:

These are great ideas, thanks for sharing