This blog post is the seventh in a special series I am dedicating to my coursebook series Boost! during the month of June. Boost! is a six-strand, four-level skills and integrated skills series made for learners aged 10-15.
As a teacher, I've often thought that reading texts in English language learning classes aren't always explored or absorbed as much as they could be. Language input is precious, and if all we do is quickly browse over reading material, chat about it, apply some skills and explain some vocabulary, then we may not be making the most of this input (in my honest opinion).
Of course, the main challenge here is coming up with activities that really dig deep into the language and flow of a text without boring the students (and teacher) to absolute tears.
To do something about this, I came up with something I call the Flip-fill - a sort of reading gap-fill that is more full on and designed to encourage much more noticing and internalization of the language (and language patterns) in a reading text, and yet be motivating and challenging enough to students to keep them engaged and willing to collaborate with classmates.
The Flip-fill is something you could consider applying after you have gone through your more standard approach to a reading passage, with the specific goal of focussing more on language. I've demonstrated Flip-fill in action in the screencast below, featuring a unit from Boost! Reading Level 4:
The great thing about Flip-fill is how genuinely interested and busy it keeps learners. Every time I have used it, students have gone through an interesting pattern of (a) thinking this task is impossible (then realising it is actually feasible), (b) realising the chances of completing the task are greatly enhanced through strategic collaboration in groups (for example, making suggestions to each other or even allocating different parts of the text to different group members and then sharing the results), and (c) demonstrating much better awareness after the activity of things like collocations, spelling and language constructions (including things like grammatical endings).
This activity makes language and language "chunks" really stick in students' minds, greatly enhancing (in my opinion) their chances of remembering language and developing a more natural/instinctive feel for how it works.
You may not want to go with a text this long if you are just trying it out for the first time or have limited extra class time to try this (even just one shorter paragraph can be used).
So I hope you'll consider giving Flip-fill a try, and feel free to ask questions here or post the results of your experiments with it!