According to what J. Scrivener says , the usefulness and effectiveness of a text is related to how close to real-life the topic is. So I decided to pick an article that I spotted on a webpage a few days ago, it is a real news which reports the fact that young Chinese girls are literally queuing up to have their legs broken in order to be better able to find a rewarding job or a handsome husband once the 18 - month treatment is over.
I thought this kind of news may be quite challenging and engaging for an intermediate level which can possibly have students coming from China therefore, commenting and discussing the topic from different points of view and cultural backgrounds would be more interesting.
After reading through a couple of different methodologies I reckon that a top – down reading which is mentioned in “Learning Teaching” is ideal to help students develop reading skills and sub-skills in this case.
I think that a lead-in before the text is fundamental, it helps contextualise the article. Making a discussion of the key themes or making a link between the topic of the text and students' experiences is important to raise their interest and to make predictions before reading.
The issue of the article is predominantly about heights and stretched limbs so it would be great to show on the whiteboard a picture depicting two men of different heights ( see pic A) and elicit ideas from students. Do you think a man's height is very important? Do you think that it is easier to find a job if you are tall ? Etc.
It is also very important to set the task before the activity so learners know what the purpose of each stage is.
I chose the following exercises so the students can practise their receptive language skills - reading for gist ( skimming ) by accomplishing tasks which focus on meaning and general information of the text.
Ex. 1 – Choose the most appropriate title.
Students will be given a list of 3/4 similar titles and then, they will have to tick the one they think is the most appropriate.
Ex. 2 – Draw a Swee Jing's X-ray scan after the surgery operation. For the second activity I thought about something creative where the students have to draw an x-ray scan picture ( see picture B ). They have a sample of a normal x-ray scan on a handout and according to the information they have read in the text, students have to add and draw bits to the picture as realistic as they think it is like. In order to accomplish this task learners need to scan through the text and find the paragraph which describes the process of the surgery operation. “ Each leg now has eight steel rods sticking out of it below the knee and these are connected to a steel cage surrounding each leg...” I chose this sort of activity as I think visual learners would find it fun, innovative and more effective as it would give them the opportunity to express their creativity and practically see what they have understood. By the end of this task students will have practised reading for detail sub-skills (scanning).
Following the top-down scheme, students will be asked to read the text again. This time the task is focused on finer points therefore a more intensive comprehensive understanding.
The third exercise consists in eight multiple-choice questions. This task deals with details, figures and words from the text. By the end of this stage students will have practised reading for detail.
Ex. 3 – Tick the correct answer.
In my opinion this exercise is rather usual but a very effective assessment technique. It allows you to design the questions in a way that you can lead the students to the points that you want them to analyse. They have three options for each stem and to find out the correct response learners need to scan through the details they want. There are figures, dates and specific words in the answers...